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Are you a Small Builder? Get to know the Skills and Knowledge that you need

According to the Health and Safety Executive UK, a small builder is a contractor, subcontractor, or self-employed worker who generally focuses on the following types of construction work:

  • Domestic projects that involve repairs, refurbishments and extensions on local buildings. Small builders are typically responsible for health and safety standards on these job sites.
  • Small commercial projects involving short-term repair and refurbishment work for business clients. Site health and safety responsibilities are shared between the builder and the commercial client.

It is important for small builders to make sure that construction work is done in a way that limits the risk of harm. This is because they are the ones at the most risk of illness or injury on a build site and suffer the highest number of fatal accidents each year. (Most fatalities result from falling at height.) Because they have hands-on experience in doing the actual work, small builders are in the best position to ensure that the work is completed in a manner that protects the health and safety of everyone involved.

A small builder’s duties start as soon as the client engages them to do the construction work. The client should hire the builder early on so that the builder has enough time to plan the necessary work and identify any health and safety risks. All planning details must be recorded as a construction phase plan, with the amount of planning being proportionate to the project’s complexity and risks.

Structural Defects Insurance

In addition, small builders must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills, training and, in many cases, the organisational ability to do the work safely and without risking health. The same principles apply when a small builder engages or appoints an individual construction worker- they must confirm that the person has the necessary qualifications for carrying out the work in a manner that secures health and safety, or at the very least is in the process of acquiring them.

The required level of experience, skills and knowledge (and training where necessary) should be proportionate to the difficulty of the work and both the nature and range of the risks involved. Examples might include:

  • Records of training and continuing professional development
  • Membership in applicable professional bodies
  • References from previous construction jobs

To demonstrate organisational capability a small builder might:

  • Make use of pre-qualification assessment services offered by accredited third parties, such as those who belong to the Safety Schemes in Procurement Forum

Self-assess using the standard health and safety pre-qualification criteria in important guides like the Publicly Available Specification PAS 91.

Specialists in Construction Insurance


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