As of April 2015, Construction, Design and Management (CDM) regulations apply to all construction projects all of the time, regardless of their size or duration. This means that all domestic and non-domestic clients, i.e. someone who does not or will not live in the premises where the work is being carried out (such as buy-to-let landlords), are legally required to comply with CDM.

This is even the case with small projects such as porch extensions, garage conversions or complete property refurbishments. Even property maintenance falls under the umbrella of CDM.

So, why do we have these regulations?

Around 40 years ago, one person was being killed every working day on a construction site and CDM was introduced in 1994 to improve the overall management, safety and welfare of a construction project from its inception throughout the construction process and during the lifetime of its use. It aims to reduce the number of accidents and cases of ill health as a result of project works.

Today, around one person a week is still being killed on a construction site and, perhaps surprisingly, between 66% and 75% of major injuries and fatalities occur on sites with fewer than 10 workers on them.

Until such statistics are dramatically reduced to zero fatalities and minimal major injuries, CDM will be continually reviewed and updated.

The latest targets for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) with regards to CDM are asbestos, small projects (less than 10 people) and homebuilding. While many people think that small jobs like the ones undertaken by homeowners or landlords are lower risk, the HSE is in fact allocating up to 70% of its resources to this very type of project.

For this reason, the recent changes have strengthened the responsibility of the client - that's Joe Public, or you as the landlord or homeowner. As set out in the new regulations, clients have a duty to:

- Make suitable arrangements for managing a project - This includes the allocation of sufficient time and other resources such as the assembly of your team.

- Ensure the team has the demonstrable skills, knowledge, training and experience in the relevant area - Previously, you had to appoint 'competent' people, but this has been rephrased and is arguably easier to understand.

- Appoint a principal designer (e.g. architect or structural engineer) - The principal designer has now taken on the responsibility of co-ordinating the design risks, whereas prior to the changes, a CDM coordinator would have done so. They must also prepare the Health and Safety File (HSF) which records the risks that may remain at the end of the project so that the client can inform workmen of the risks when undertaking maintenance for example.

- Prepare the Pre Construction Information pack with support from the principal designer - This document brings together all of the information that is relevant to your project and its design that you can reasonably gather to inform the designers and contractors about the project. It will contain historic records (if available), asbestos reports, locations of utilities, hazards associated with the site and its surrounding environment, the client brief and the initial design and construction risks.

- Appoint a principal contractor - This person is in charge of health and safety on site during construction. They manage the sub-contractors, electricians, plumbers and whoever else is on site, including any workmen appointed directly by the client. The client must also ensure that a Construction Phase Plan is drawn up by the principal contractor before the construction phase begins. This document lays out the management of the health and safety arrangements, the site rules and all the potential significant risks and how they are to be managed.

- Ensure the principal contractor carries out their duties.

- Appoint all parties in writing - This will ensure the right people are doing the right job and that the client only takes on those responsibilities for which they are competent.

Overwhelmed? A lot of people are, which is why there are consultants available to help you comply with the regulations. Unless you have relevant background in the construction industry you should appoint professional advisors and contractors at all times. Failure to comply with CDM regulations can result in hefty fines.

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