AIA Document C403™-2021 is a standard form agreement where a client can hire a consultant to perform design assist services for a project. The terms “client” and “consultant” are intentionally flexible, as numerous parties in a project could hire someone, or be hired, to perform design assist services. However, in most instances, the design assist “consultant” will be a subcontractor or material supplier and the “client” would be a construction manager, contractor, or owner.
Design assist describes a form of collaboration where a construction professional provides information to assist a design professional’s design, typically before pricing for the work has been agreed upon or before the work has been awarded. C403-2021 defines design assist services as “all services performed by the Consultant under this Agreement for the purpose of assisting the design professional of record in its obligation to develop the design for the Project.” The scope of a consultant’s design assist services can vary greatly, depending on the expertise of the consultant and needs of the project. Thus, Article 3 of C403-2021 allows the parties to insert a description of the design assist services or identify an exhibit that contains such a description.
AIA Document C403-2021 is suitable for use as a stand-alone agreement. However, C403-2021 can be used as a complimentary document to many owner/contractor or owner/construction manager agreements offered by AIA Contract Documents. For example, AIA Document A133™-2019 is an agreement between an owner and construction manager as constructor that includes numerous preconstruction phase services that are design assist in nature. C403-2021 can be used as a companion document to A133-2019 to flow down these design assist services from the construction manager to subcontractors and material suppliers. In a similar manner, C403-2021 can be used as a companion document to many other AIA Contract Document agreements between an owner and construction manager or contractor.