A new regulatory regime for the Building Safety Act (BSA) comes into force on the 1st October 2023, and is going to impact more building practices than was originally suspected. New duty-holder roles for clients, designers, and contractors will apply to domestic projects – which can include simple conversations as well as additional best practices for project management. There is an increased focus on compliance with the codes of best practice, and failure to meet these requirements could result in legal action.
Some of the Principal Designer requirements are covered by the CDM regulations; ie, if you’re only working with one contractor, you won’t need a Principal Designer as the contractor will take on the roles required. However, because the definition of a contractor is so broad, if the work requires a subcontractor or more than one trade is involved in the project, a Principal Designer will be required to meet these new regulations, same as the CDM regulations.
The duties as defined by the BSA of a Principal Designer include:
- Coordinating design work
- Ensuring reasonable steps are taken for the design to be carried out (including compliance)
- Managing the health, safety, and welfare of construction projects
- Liaising with the client on the impact of the BSA on their project and services required
- Ensure insurers confirm the PD role is within their PI cover.
- Justify the compliance to building control.
Unless a domestic client appoints a separate Principal Designer in writing, the designer in control of the design phase will be automatically assigned these roles. This means if you’re not paying your architectural designer to complete these roles, you will still require a Designer or Principal Designer to meet these prescriptive duties.
Construction lawyers and experts in the field are continuing to work through the new legislative documents to give the best advice and support to designers and their clients, but this will take time. In the meantime, it is advised that fee proposals and terms of appointment should make these requirements as transparent as possible; so that it is understood on all sides the impact of the act of the project, the client’s key duties, the designers’ extended duties and how any other CDM or BSA regulations are met.
Architectural designers do not need to be RIBA Members to take on these roles, they simply need to be competent and have the experience to accept the responsibility. As we said above, competency and compliance are the centre of the new safety regime, and new compliance-checking systems are being developed to streamline this process for everyone involved. This proactive approach is designed to protect those involved, and avoid designs moving forward that undermine compliance without proper critical appraisal.
If you’d like to know whether these changes will impact your project, especially as the process will be heavily monitored until April 2024, contact us here.