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Who are the Principal Designer (PD) and Principal Contractor?

Who is a Principal Designer (PD)?

A Principal designer is the designer with control over the pre-construction phrase of the project. This is the very earliest stage of a project from concept design through to planning the delivery of the construction work. The principal designer shall be appointed in writing by the client to carry out their duties at the right time of the construction phase.

The principal designer is an organisation (or on a smaller project they can be an individual) that has:

  1. The technical knowledge of the construction industry relevant to the project;
  2. The understanding and skills to manage and coordinate the preconstruction phase, including any design work carried out after construction begins.

Where the principal designer is an organisation they should have the organisational capability to carry out the role as well as the necessary skills, knowledge and experience that individual designers must have.

NOTE: The PD should be appointed as early as possible in the design process (if practicable at the concept stage) and at least before the start of the construction phase, so they have enough time to carry out their duties to plan and manage the pre-construction and construction phases. If a client fails to appoint a PD, the client must carry out their duties.

Who is a Principal Contractor?

The Principal Contractor is the contractor in overall control of the construction phase on projects with more than one contractor. They are appointed by the client and there should only be one Principal Contractor for a project at any one time.

The term project in this guide is used to describe any construction, building, infrastructure repair or maintenance work, whether on a fixed or transient site. The Principal Contractor must be capable of carrying out the role and have the right skills, knowledge and experience, dependent upon the nature of the work and the range and nature of safety and health risks involved.

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