The practice of a Certified Interior Designer
Must I hire a Certified Interior Designer?
Frequently asked questions
Making your decision
Design fees and project funds
How to find a Certified Interior Designer
Evaluate your project
Your design services contract
Construction & installation
Problems with your project?
How to file a complaint
Complaint form
Code of Ethics
The Law

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CCIDC - California Council for Interior Design Certification

1605 Grand Avenue, Suite 4
San Marcos, CA 92078
Phone: 760-761-4734 / Fax:760-761-4736
CCIDC Home page

California Council for Interior Design Certification
The standard for interior designers in the State of California
“Public Protection Through Examination and Certification”


Your Design Services Contract

As part of the CCIDC Code of Ethics, and CID Law Section 5807, a Certified Interior Designer is required to use a written contract prior to commencing interior design services to a client in order to inform the client of the scope and nature of the project involved, the interior design services to be performed, and the method of remuneration for those services. A Certified Interior Designer shall not materially change the scope of a project without the client's consent.

By law, a written contract shall be executed by the Certified Interior Designer as follows:

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5807. (a) A certified interior designer shall use a written contract when contracting to provide interior design services to a client pursuant to this chapter. The written contract shall be executed by the certified interior designer and the client, or his or her representative, prior to the certified interior designer commencing work. The written contract shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:

(1) A description of the services to be provided to the client by the certified interior designer.

(2) A description of any basis of compensation applicable to the contract and the method of payment agreed upon by the parties.

(3) The name, address, and certification number of the certified interior designer and the name and address of the client.

(4) A description of the procedure that the certified interior designer and  the client will use to accommodate additional services.

(5) A description of the procedure to be used by any party to terminate the contract.

(6) A three-day rescission clause in accordance with Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 1688) of Title 5 of Part 2 of Division 3 of the Civil Code.

(7) A written disclosure stating whether the certified interior designer carries errors and omissions insurance.

(b) Subdivision (a) shall not apply to any of the following:

(1) Interior design services rendered by a certified interior designer for which the client will not pay compensation.

(2) Interior design services rendered by a certified interior designer to any of the following:

(A) An architect licensed under Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500).

(B) A landscape architect licensed under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 5615).

(C) An engineer licensed under Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 6700).

(c) As used in this section, “written contract” includes a contract in electronic form.

(Added by Stats. 2013, Ch. 333, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2014. Repealed as of January 1, 2018, pursuant to Section 5810.)

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Many Certified Interior Designers prepare their own contracts or have them prepared by an attorney. Whatever contract is used for professional services, it is a legal document that binds you and the Certified Interior Designer to certain obligations for the life of the project and, in some cases, beyond project completion. It should include the specific services that you and your Certified Interior Designer have agreed upon and the conditions under which these services are to be rendered. Otherwise, issues could arise that may be both expensive and time-consuming to resolve.

Review the contract carefully. It is yours and the Certified Interior Designer's responsibility to understand and follow the contract. You have the right to question and change the terms of the contract before signing it. Because it is a binding legal document, you may wish to have your legal counsel review it before you sign it. You, as owner, should retain an original copy of the signed contract. In addition, you should not contract with other parties regarding your project without first notifying the Certified Interior Designer with whom you have the primary contract.

Additional recommended items in the written contract
Beyond those items as shown above in CID law, the CCIDC recommends that a contract for design services also include

  • The title and address of the project;
  • At what phases of the Certified Interior Designer's services the client's approval must be given before he or she proceeds to the next phase;
  • The time frame in which the design services must be completed;
  • The construction budget and what items it includes;
  • An itemized listing of the Certified Interior Designer's basic services;
  • The maximum fee for these basic services;
  • A listing of the disciplines of consultants that may be needed (i.e., engineering, landscape, etc.), and a clarification of who hires the consultants and who approves and pays their fees;
  • A list of the reimbursable costs that are not included in the basic fee;
  • A list of what services constitute additional services and at what cost;
  • A clarification of whose approval is required before these additional service costs are incurred;
  • Whether assistance with establishing a contract between a contractor and owner will be provided;
  • The date of anticipated start of construction;
  • A provision for cost escalation or contingencies for delay of construction;
  • A provision for cost escalation or contingencies for changes in the project scope during construction;
  • A schedule of when and in what amounts payments are due;.
  • Whether construction observation services are included;
  • The amount of the retainer fee and how/when/ where it will be applied;
  • How final payment is computed if the contract is terminated;
  • A procedure for handling disputes between the parties should the need arise (for example, arbitration or mediation);
  • A clarification of who owns the project documents; and
  • A clarification of who is responsible for keeping project account records and when they may be reviewed.

Keeping Records
The written contract is not the only document you should keep. You should also keep a written record of all verbal communication with your Certified Interior Designer that relates to the project. Do not assume your Certified Interior Designer will interpret everything you discuss with him or her the same way you do.

When you have a meeting or discussion with the Certified Interior Designer about your project, write the Certified Interior Designer a memo confirming your understanding of that meeting or discussion. These memos can help to prevent misunderstandings from occurring and may prove invaluable should a problem or dispute occur. Include the date and time of your conversation in the memo, as well as the date you write it.

You may also want to write memos or notes to yourself about the progress of the project. Photographs or videotapes taken at regular intervals (with notes as to the dates that the photos are taken) can be very useful in establishing a historical record of the project.

Keep detailed financial records by ensuring the Certified Interior Designer provides detailed invoices. Also keep records of the date and amount of each payment you make. Require the Certified Interior Designer to obtain your written approval before additional costs are incurred. Carefully evaluate each phase of the project. Make sure your Certified Interior Designer knows your written approval is necessary before proceeding to the next project phase.

Make sure that you receive a copy of all documents you sign, and keep a copy of all documents you give to your Certified Interior Designer.

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