Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Question: What is 'The Elephant' in the Builder's Portacabin at the Moment?

Answer: The 'Construction (Design & Management) 2015 Regulations' (of course).


Throughout the UK over the last few months, there have been countless seminars attempting to enlighten those of us in the building trade of the new Construction (Design & Management) 2015 Regulations.

Someone casually strolling past one of these seminars would have easily recognised whether it was about the new CDM Regulations by peeking through the windows and checking to see if the architects and builders in attendance were huddled into a corner, clutching their knees and rocking back and forth.


I was at one of these seminars recently (superbly organised by Aedis Group). Whilst I managed to avoid retreating into the corner and looking bewildered, I did succumb to letting small wisps of smoke, lazily drift out of each ear. This wasn't because of the way the seminar was presented (as said, it was superb) it was from the sharp realisation that my small architectural design business - previously outside the scope of the old 2007 CDM Regulations - was now well and truly inside the new 2015 CDM Regulations.


Like it or not (and it appears that most of my colleagues in my particular field of expertise  - loft conversions -  are in the 'not' camp) the Construction Design & Management 2015 Regulations are, indeed, well and truly here - and is the 'elephant in the room' at the moment. There's going to be many of us who would rather impale ourselves on a splintery, circa 1955, spirit-level rather than have to read through all the bumf on these regulations and go through the laborious task of complying with them on each and every building project. Are they bureaucratic claptrap? Maybe. Onerous? Quite likely. But before jumping to conclusions, we should at least wait and see how these regulations work in practice.


In the meantime, maybe the new CDM Regulations will be an opportunity for those of us in the loft conversion sector who are up against the jokers who are bashing out ridiculously cheap building quotations and alarmingly under-priced design drawings.

Complying with these new responsibilities will undoubtedly add man-hours - so costs - onto each loft conversion project, but the fact is that designers and builders will now, more than ever before perhaps, need to be bold in asserting to potential customers that they - as homeowners - also have responsibilities.



The homeowner is the 'client'' under the CDM Regulations. It may take a while, but they will, at the very least, become savvy to the existence of the Regulations -  in much the same way they have with, say, the Party Wall etc Act. And once homeowners comb through the detail, they will not only have to acknowledge the additional costs incurred by reputable builders in order to meaningfully comply with the new CDM Regulations but also realise that compliance by the builder is for everyone's sake. 

Like everyone else, I'll watch and learn as to how the new CDM Regulations 'bed' themselves in.  But in the meantime, I'll embrace the new responsibilities, and I'm going to make sure my homeowner clients are aware of theirs.


My straightforward advice to loft conversion builders is to get themselves on a course, get the recognised accreditation, and then to mark on quotes that their business is "Construction (Design & Management) 2015 compliant". That, and also to try and not worry about how their higher-priced quotes impact on winning new customers. Their competitors who aren't compliant have much more to worry about...