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Building Safety Act: how RIBA’s new work templates for the Principal Designer role can help architects

Learn more about what’s available in our new Principal Designer work templates, including Lead Designer Agreements, Notifications of Competence and Client Care letters.

16 May 2024

This week (Thursday 16 May 2024) RIBA has launched a suite of Principal Designer template documents that members can freely download. These templates will help support many of the tasks that are required to be carried out by the Principal Designer role under the new Building Regulations in England.

All of the templates can be regarded as complementary to the RIBA Principal Designer’s Guide but are presented as editable digital documents that practices can customise according to their duties and projects.

The RIBA Principal Designer Guide - already onto its second print run - describes the duties and responsibilities of the Principal Designer role under the CDM Regulations 2015 and the new Principal Designer role under amended Building Regulations (Part 2a) following the passing of the Building Safety Act.

The templates can be freely downloaded by RIBA Members (Photo: iStock Photo)

Why have the templates been made for architects?

Guide and templates author - and Director at EPR Architects Ltd - Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, says it’s clear that there are a lot of standard routines and documents required from Principal Designers under the new regime. The templates provide examples of how various requirements can be met.

However, he stresses that practices should not regard the templates as a set of standard documents that RIBA Principal Designers are expected to adopt as a standard checklist of tasks to be worked through and ticked off.

“We have presented these templates as models that can be used as starting points for a practice’s own work,” Dieter explains. “We’re also suggesting that if you use this style of template then you should be able to meet the statutory requirement in that respect. So, for a completion statement, for instance, we are suggesting that information on these templates is something we think should be included.”

Purchase a copy of the RIBA Principal Designer Guide.

What are the templates and what topics do they cover?

The Principal Designer templates (note that reference numbers align with chapter references in the guide) currently available for download are:

2.1: Client Care Letter (Commercial)

This template provides initial guidance for domestic clients regarding their statutory duties under the regulations, which both designers and clients need to understand and comply with on all their projects.

2.1: Client Care Letter (Domestic)

This template provides initial guidance for domestic clients regarding their statutory duties under the regulations, which both designers and clients need to understand and comply with on all their projects.

2.1: Lead Designer Agreement

This client letter can be used to advise your client of your agreement with the other designers, confirming which designer shall act as the lead designer and principal designer for your project.

2.4: Notice of Designated Individual

This notice can be used to record the details of any individuals you designate to fulfil the principal designer duties on behalf of your organisation.

3.2: Non-HRB Completion Statement

This declaration can be used to provide your client with a signed Compliance Statement as required under the Building Regulations for non-HRB projects.

4.3: Personal Competence Statement

This statement can used to advise your client of your skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours that demonstrate you are competent to fulfil your principal designer duties.

4.4: Notification of Competence

This letter can used to advise your client of instances where you are no longer competent to continue as the principal designer.

A tranche of seven templates are available to architects (Photo: iStock Photo)

What is the Relevant Requirements Tracker?

In addition to these model forms and client letters, there is a Building Regulations compliance tracker, 1.1 Relevant Requirements Tracker.

This is a model management tool for designers and principal designers to monitor that elements of design work comply with relevant Building Regulations. Such a tracker could be used to evidence compliance to a building control body, and can include the project’s change control processes.

The tracker supports the decisions made to ensure compliance with the requirements of regulations 4, 6, 7, 8, 22, 23, 25B, 26, 26A, 28, 36, 41(2)(a), 42(2)(a), 44A, 44ZA, 44ZC and 44D to 44I and Schedule 1 of the Building Regulations.

“If architects choose to go beyond the templates, or their contractual commitments require them to do so, that is fine,” Dieter adds. “We are saying that these templates should serve as baselines, as the minimum that should satisfy statutory requirements.”

He continues: “We are still a long way off from architects fully going through the new principal designer process, so there is a lot of uncertainty about what good practice will eventually look like.”

There are further templates in development that will be announced in due course, including a design responsibility matrix that is being developed in collaboration with other professional industry bodies. It’s also worth noting that these templates might change over time as processes evolve, so the intention is to keep the templates adaptable and flexible.

View the downloadable RIBA Principal Designer templates.

Want to read more about the Building Safety Act?

These professional features from the RIBA Practice team should help build a little more confidence in your part of the new regulatory regime in England:

Thanks to Dieter Bentley-Gockmann, Director, EPR Architects Ltd.

Text by Neal Morris and 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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