Instructions: C403™–2021, Standard Form of Agreement Between Client and Consultant for Design Assist Services


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 by someone, 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.

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Completing C403–2021.

Cover Page

Date. The date represents the date the Agreement becomes effective. It may be the date an original oral agreement was reached, the date the Agreement was originally submitted to the Client, the date authorizing action was taken, or the date of actual execution. Professional services should not be performed prior to the effective date of the Agreement.

Parties. Parties to this Agreement should be identified using the full address and legal name under which the Agreement is to be executed, including a designation of the legal status of both parties (sole proprietorship, partnership, joint venture, unincorporated association, limited partnership or corporation [general, limited liability, closed or professional], etc.). Where appropriate, a copy of the resolution authorizing the individual to act on behalf of the firm or entity should be attached. The Consultant’s trade or discipline should be described in the appropriate prompt and identifying information about the Consultant’s Designated Representative should be provided.

Prime Contract. If there is a Prime Contract, to which the C403-2021 is a subcontract, provide the applicable information about that Prime Contract in the prompt on the cover page. For example, if the C403-2021 is being used by a construction manager as constructor (as the client) to hire a subcontractor (as the consultant) to provide design assist services, the Prime Contract would be the contract between the owner and the construction manager as constructor.

Project Participant. The Project Participant prompt should only be completed if there is a Prime Contract for the Project.

Project. The proposed Project should be described in sufficient detail to identify (1) the official name or title of the facility; (2) the location of the site; (3) the proposed building usage; and (4) the size, capacity or scope of the Project.

Article 1   General Provisions

§ 1.6 Client’s Representative. Insert the name and address of the Client’s authorized representative. 

§ 1.7 Consultant’s Representative. Insert the name and address of the Consultant’s authorized representative. 

Article 2   Consultant’s Responsibilities

§ 2.17 Consultant’s Insurance Requirements. Insert the types and limits of insurance the Consultant is required to carry for performance of the design assist services. Specifically, C403-2021 lists General Liability, Automobile Liability, and Workers’ Compensation.

Article 3   Scope of Consultants Services

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.

Article 7   Claims and Disputes

§ 7.1 Select from three choices of binding dispute resolution: (1) arbitration, (2) litigation or (3) another method that the parties must identify. Other types of dispute resolution include a dispute resolution board or a mini-trial. For additional information about other methods of dispute resolution, refer to The Construction Industry’s Guide to Dispute Avoidance and Resolution free online at

Article 10   Compensation

A detailed discussion of compensation methods can be found in the Instructions to AIA Document B101®–2017, Standard Form of Agreement Between Owner and Architect. 

§ 10.1 See methods of compensation referenced above.

§ 10.2 See methods of compensation referenced above.

§ 10.3 See methods of compensation shown above for Section 10.1, if other than a percentage of the invoiced amount.


Modifications. Particularly with respect to professional or contractor licensing laws, building codes, taxes, monetary and interest charges, arbitration, indemnification, format and font size, AIA Contract Documents may require modification to comply with state or local laws. Users are encouraged to consult an attorney before completing or modifying a document.

Reproductions. This document is a copyrighted work and may not be reproduced or excerpted from without the express written permission of the AIA. There is no implied permission to reproduce this document, nor does membership in The American Institute of Architects confer any further rights to reproduce this document. For more information, see the document footer and the AIA Contract Documents® Terms of Service.

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