Staying on track: making sure the restoration of your car goes smoothly
An article by Guild Commercial Partner Nigel Adams from Goodman Derrick LLP
If you are about to have your classic car restored by a professional restorer read on to find out about suggested solutions to common problems.
Understand who you are contracting with
There is a flourishing support industry for owners of classic cars and a wide choice of restorers. Different restorers will offer different quality services and charge varying prices. Before you entrust custody of your precious car to anyone, make some checks to satisfy yourself that they are reputable and will look after it properly. Ask for references or testimonials and visit the premises of your chosen restorer to meet those who will do the work or be overseeing the project.
Get it in writing
You are likely to have outlined your requirements and budget to the restorer when seeking estimates for the work, but even if you are happy with the engineer’s response, do not be tempted to conclude matters on a handshake. Instead it vital that you have a written contract confirming what work is being done, by when and for how much.
If you are dealing with a reputable and well organised restoration company you may be presented with their standard form contract to sign. Such a document will make provision for a host of other matters besides the basic terms highlighted above – for example, restricting liability to you if things go wrong. It is obviously important to read and understand the small print carefully before you sign anything. You may have no choice but to accept the terms offered to you by your restorer, but you ought to try and negotiate over any terms which cause you concern.
You should ensure that the restorer will keep you routinely updated as to progress. If you want the restoration fully documented and recorded with photos you need to agree that at the outset (again, best done in writing). Regular monitoring will also help keep the work on track in terms of time and quality and also help reveal any issues as they crop up. Most reputable engineers will welcome their clients into their workshops to check on progress and be glad to provide regular updates.
How to deal with the unexpected
The unexpected can always happen, especially with a restoration job. It is important that your agreement with the restorer contains terms which dictate how unexpected contingencies should be dealt with. For example, if it becomes evident that extra work will need to be undertaken once a restoration project has begun, the contract should cater for this and perhaps provide that no “extra” work is to be carried out until you have agreed to a written scope for such work and the budget involved.
Problems may arise as work on your car progresses, but if you have a competently drafted contract and have been actively monitoring progress with the work, hopefully you will be in a good position to pick up on any dispute early and resolve it before it becomes larger and more difficult to resolve. Your contract ought to set out a process for the quick and effective resolution of disputes and keeping lines of communication open is crucial.
Problems with payment
The major concern of the restorer will be to get paid on time and in full. Be warned that if the restorer has your car then it has a right to keep hold of your car until you have paid and can even sell your car to pay their unpaid bills. The restorer’s power to sell a customer’s car is limited to those situations where the customer has not raised a dispute about charges, but nevertheless you ought to be aware of these rights.