What is a principal designer and are they required?

The term principal designer (PD) refers to an organisation or individual, appointed by the client to take control of the pre-construction stage of any project involving multiple contractors. This term can vary depending on the industry however, a principal designer is usually in the dominion of direction, design, and execution.

Women looking over mans shoulder looking at principal designers and if they are effective.

Why is having a principal designer necessary?

Since the introduction of The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations Act of 2005,  it is now a statutory requirement to have a principal designer appointed by the client. In addition, it can also be advantageous to have a PD because they:

Plan, manage and monitor the pre-construction phase


Minimise/eliminate any health and safety risks


Take health and safety aspects into account when estimating the duration of the project Ensure that all workers are cooperating and functioning smoothly
Assist the client in the supply of necessary information


Liaise with the principal contractor

The planning stage of any project is crucial in determining the success of the project. If a plan is unsubstantial or lacking then the task is doomed to fail before it has begun. Every project, no matter how big or small, has health and safety risks and these should be taken into account. An experienced and knowledgeable PD will be able to identify these risks and highlight them to reduce the possibility of any injuries. This can also propel the project forward as all workers involved feel assured that they are safe.

Health and safety aspects should also be accounted for when approximating the time scale of each section of the project and the project as a whole. A well-chosen PD will be aware of how much time needs to be accounted for in order to guarantee the safety of all workers. Furthermore, conflicts between workers can arise for a variety of reasons: task-based disagreements, workstyle differences, personal complications, and many more. A PD will be able to resolve these issues before they progress and become conflicts.

Relevant and up-to-date information is vital in determining the success of a project, if this information is not provided or lacking then workers may be unsure about aspects of their role, which could in turn lead to the collapse of the project. Finally, the PD liaises with the principal contractor, this ensures that the project runs smoothly without any complications.

A certified principle designer.

competent PD should have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, as well as any skills required in order to effectively and proficiently manage all health and safety risks that may arise within the project. Health and Safety should be at the centre of all decisions made to ensure that the project runs as smoothly as possible. The PD should also be confident and comfortable when planning, managing, monitoring, and coordinating all aspects of the project.

If you are looking for a principal designer who is confident, competent, and knowledgeable or want general Health & Safety advice please email us at or call us at 01924 261789.