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What do architects need to know about RIBA’s new Building Regulations Principal Designer Professional Services Contract 2024?

20 June 2024

RIBA’s highly-anticipated Building Regulations Principal Designer (BRPD) Professional Services Contract 2024, which sets out the services to be provided in accordance with the new Building Safety Act regime, is now available to purchase in paper form.

Under the new regime, the BRPD must plan, manage and monitor design work during the design phase (ie. where the design work is that of all designers on the project). Likewise, the BRPD must take ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure that a project built in accordance with the design will be compliant with all relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.

The RIBA BRPD Professional Services Contract 2024 is a standalone contract. It can be used to appoint any competent professional undertaking the BRPD role on commercial projects of all values sourced through different forms of procurement, including design and build pre-novation.

RIBA's new Professional Services Contract for the Building Regulations Principal Designer is now available to purchase in paper form. (Photo: iStock Photo)

What are the differences between the RIBA Building Regulations and the RIBA CDM Principal Designer Professional Services Contracts (PSCs)?

The new RIBA BRPD PSC follows a similar format to the RIBA CDM Regulations Principal Designer (CDMPD) PSC, but it should not be used for CDMPD appointments – there are now separate professional services contracts for both BRPD and CDMPD appointments.

The services in the RIBA BRPD PSC align with the BRPD’s regulatory duties. The Schedule of Services has two parts: the services under Part 2A of the Building Regulations 2010 and those under the Building (Higher-Risk Buildings Procedures) (England) Regulations 2023(HRB Procedures Regulations).

The person filling out the contract is asked at the beginning of the Schedule of Services to state the RIBA work stages for which the architect/consultant will be acting as BRPD, and to select the services to be included depending on whether the project includes a HRB. The client, BRPD and the other designers should continue to periodically review whether the project will include HRB work if built in accordance with the design.

Some of the BRPD’s statutory duties in the Building Regulations are not subject to ‘all reasonable steps’ (for example, the ‘principal designer must’).

Margaret Wright, member of the editorial group that led the drafting of the contract, says: “Including terms like ‘must’ or ‘ensure’ in a contract can present professional indemnity insurance coverage issues where they are unqualified and amount to the professional providing a guarantee that something will happen.”

In the RIBA BRPD PSC, the BRPD’s services are subject to reasonable skill, care and diligence (clauses 3.1).

When coordinating information from others the BRPD shall not be responsible for the content of the information received (clause 3.2.4).

Read more about RIBA’s guidance surrounding fire and building safety, as well as the Building Safety Act

How a Principal Designer can use the new Professional Services Contract

The Contract Conditions in the new RIBA BRPD PSC generally follow those previously adopted in the RIBA CDMPD PSC with new clauses added to address the new regulations.

The contract recognises that the client must carry out its duties under Part 2A of the Building Regulations and the HRB Procedures Regulations, where applicable to the project, to enable the BRPD to perform its services (2.1.4). The contract also acknowledges that the BRPDs working on HRBs will need continuing access to the Golden Thread Information (2.1.8).

Under the new regime, the BRPD is required to provide a written statement that it has fulfilled its duties under Part 2A of the Building Regulations. The contract includes a provision that the BRPD will not warrant to provide to any statement of compliance beyond those expressly required by law (2.3.3).

Competency underpins the new building safety regime introduced by the Building Safety Act. Designers should not take on any design work for which they are not competent.

Margaret says those intending to act as the BRPD should be aware of the competency requirements under Building Regulations, and that the competencies required may be project specific. They should not accept requests to act as BRPD (11E(6)) if they do not satisfy the competency requirements set out in regulations 11F and 11G. In the new contract (clause 3.2.6), the BRPD should assess at the outset whether it is competent to act and inform the client if it ceases to be competent over the course of the project (regulation 11I).

Read more about the differences between the CDM and Building Regulations Principal Designer roles

Read more about RIBA’s on-demand Principal Designer course

Find out how to join RIBA’s Principal Designer Register

Those intending to act as the BRPD should be aware of the competency requirements under Building Regulations. (Photo: RIBA)

What else do architects need to know?

Amendments to the other standard forms of professional services contracts will be issued later this summer and will include similar new provisions. The RIBA Standard PSC will also be updated to include services that now need to be undertaken to comply with ‘designer duties’ under the Building Regulations, and separately under the HRB Procedures Regulation.

Architects should note that the RIBA BRPD PSC is not suitable for the appointment of a BRPD by a ‘domestic client’ under the Building Regulations and/or a ‘consumer client’ acting outside of their business as defined by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The forthcoming amendments to RIBA Domestic PSC will include an option for the architect to act as BRPD as well as the CDMPD.

The existing RIBA CDMPD PSC is also being updated to remove confusion over its single ‘Principal Designer’ terminology now that there are now two distinct Principal Designer roles.

Paper editions of the RIBA BRPD PSC are now available to purchase from today (Thursday 20 June 2024). Digital copies of the contract will be available in RIBA Contracts Digital later in the year.

Purchase the paper version of the RIBA Professional Services Contract for the Building Regulations Principal Designer.

Thanks to Margaret Wright, Senior Associate, Hawkins & Associates Limited.

Text by Neal Morris and Margaret Wright. This is a professional feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas

RIBA Core Curriculum topic: Legal, regulatory and statutory compliance.

As part of the flexible RIBA CPD programme, professional features count as microlearning. See further information on the updated RIBA CPD core curriculum and on fulfilling your CPD requirements as a RIBA Chartered Member.

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