Are you a small builder?

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) - What you need to know

Who is a small builder?

A small builder is a contractor and includes sub-contractors or any individual self-employed worker. Small builders will usually carry out construction work on:

  • Domestic projects – involving extensions, repairs and refurbishment work on the homes of domestic clients. A small builder will usually have the sole responsibility for site health and safety on these projects
  • Small commercial projects – involving short duration repairs and refurbishment work (with 15 or fewer people on site) for business commercial clients where site health and safety responsibilities are shared between the small builder and the commercial client.

Why is it important for a small builder to ensure construction work is carried out in a way that avoids harm?

Small builders are those at most risk of injury and ill health on construction sites and suffer the majority of construction fatal accidents each year. Most deaths involve falls from height including: ladders, scaffolds, working platforms, roof edges, and falls through fragile roofs or rooflights. Because they have first-hand experience in doing the actual work, they are in a good position to ensure the work is carried out in a way which secures their own health and safety and that of others.

When do a small builder's duties start?

The duties for a small builder start as soon as they are appointed by the client to carry out the construction work. The client should appoint the builder early in the project so that the builder has sufficient time to plan the work and identify any risks to health and safety. Details of any planning must be recorded as a construction phase plan.  The effort devoted to planning should be proportionate to the complexity of the project and the risks involved.

What skills, knowledge and experience does a small builder need to carry out their work in a way that ensures health and safety? 

A small builder must be able to show that they have the skills, knowledge, experience and, where an organisation, the organisational capability to carry out the work safely and without risk to health. 

Similarly, when a small builder employs or appoints an individual to carry out construction work, they must make sure the individual has the skills, knowledge, experience and training to carry out the work in a way that secures health and safety, or is in the process of obtaining them. 

The required level of skills, knowledge and experience (and training where required) should be proportionate to the complexity of the work and the range and nature of the risks involved. 

Examples of demonstrating skills, knowledge and experience (and training where required) might include:

  • records of continuing professional development (CPD) including training records
  • membership of professional bodies
  • references from previous construction work.

Examples of demonstrating organisational capability might involve:

  • using pre-qualification assessment services from third party assessors, such as those who are members of Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum (SSIP)
  • self-assessing using the standard health and safety pre-qualification questions in Publicly Available Specification PAS 91

What you need to do

Guidance on what a small builder needs to do to carry out their duties on both commercial and domestic projects under the CDM 2015 is available on the roles and responsibilities of a contractor page.

Busy builder leaflets

Busy builder presentations

Is this page useful?