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Why do I need a Principal Designer?

1st October 2023 sees the main provisions of the Building Safety Act, the Governments long

anticipated response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, come in to force. You may think this only affects new tower blocks, but the changes to how building works are approved touch any building work that needs to comply with and get approval under the Building Regulations. That includes domestic loft and kitchen extensions and even some purely internal works.

Under the new regime everyone, including the client (the building owner) gets new duties

· To ensure the works comply with the building regulations.

· To cooperate, coordinate and communicate, sharing anything relevant to the works.

· To be competent at what they do.

Domestic* clients, who may never have built anything before, have a get out from the last one but must still appoint a Principal Designer, and later appoint your main builder as Principal Contractor. You won’t get Building Regulations approval without these, or the reassurance that your project is properly built, efficient and above all safe.

The Principal Designer role is and isn’t new. For some years there has been a requirement to have a Principal Designer under the CDM Regulations which were mainly about Health and Safety during construction. That appointment should be made at the initial design stage. The new Principal Designer (BSA) role can wait until detail design, but you risk costs for review and maybe redesign.

There’s no confusion of you remember that HSE or BSA, the Principal Designer’s job is to manage and co-ordinate the design of the project. That sounds exactly like what you expect of your Architect, which is why you should look to them first.

As with any role with legally defined duties, getting this right requires time spent and records kept.

Our fees for the early design stages include for being both versions of Principal Designer. If you use someone else, we’ll probably need the time that pays for to co-ordinate with them, as well as planners, structural engineers, energy specialists etc. etc.


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