Washington Enacts Law to Exempt Restoration and Custom Shops From Written Estimate Requirement

SEMA News—May 2012

Legislative & Technical Affairs
By Steve McDonald

Washington Enacts Law to Exempt Restoration and Custom Shops From Written Estimate Requirement

SEMA Member Takes Active Role in Legislative Process

  State Senator Mike Carrell (left) and Senate Staff Counsel Jackson Maynard (right).
Kevin Jack (center) of SEMA member Thunder Road Street Rods & Customs celebrates the bill signing with Washington State Senator Mike Carrell (left) and Senate Staff Counsel Jackson Maynard (right). 
   

A SEMA-supported bill to exempt restoration and custom shops from the requirement that they provide written estimates for the repair of any vehicle that qualifies for a “horseless carriage” or “collector vehicle” license plate or is a “parts car,” “street rod” or “custom vehicle” was signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire. Effective January 1, 2013, the new law will allow restoration and custom shops to bill at least every two weeks on a time-and-materials basis.

Under Washington law, a “horseless carriage” is a vehicle that is more than 40 years old and is owned and operated as a collector vehicle; a “collector vehicle” is any motor vehicle that is more than 30 years old; a “custom vehicle” is any motor vehicle that is at least 30 years old and of a model year after 1948 or was manufactured to resemble a vehicle at least 30 years old and of a model year after 1948 and has alterations to one or more of the major component parts; a “parts car” is a motor vehicle that is owned by a collector to furnish parts for restoration or maintenance; and a “street rod” is a motor vehicle that is a 1948 or older vehicle or a vehicle manufactured after 1948 to resemble a vehicle manufactured before 1949 and has alterations to one or more of the major component parts.

“Customers of restoration and customization shops have the right to be notified of costs in a timely fashion,” said SEMA Vice President for Government Affairs Steve McDonald.

“Under a SEMA-drafted provision to the new law, restoration and custom shops will be allowed to bill at least every two weeks on a time-and-materials basis. Shops would be able to accurately inform customers of actual costs and materials, removing the vagueness associated with shops attempting to guess probable time for unique tasks and probable costs for unique and in some cases yet-to-be-fabricated, parts.”

  Governor Chris Gregoire signs into law a bill to exempt restoration and custom shops from the written estimate requirement.
Surrounded by members of the Washington state custom and restoration business community, Governor Chris Gregoire signs into law a bill to exempt restoration and custom shops from the written estimate requirement.
   

The new law is the product of months of consultation with state legislators, regulators and the local business community and was the brainchild of Kevin Jack of SEMA member Thunder Road Street Rods & Customs in Benton City, Washington.

“It was an honor testifying in committee in favor of the bill and being involved in the political process to create positive change,” Jack said.

“This new law, as sponsored by Senators Mike Carrell and Jerome Delvin, recognizes that restoration and custom shops constitute a small portion of shops that work on vehicles and fulfill a unique niche that does not conform to that of standard repair shops. The law will allow us to bill our customers fairly and on a timely basis for the actual work done on these unique vehicles without the unreasonable expectation created by adherence to a written estimate requirement.”

Similar legislation is currently pending in New York and New Jersey and will continue to be pursued by SEMA in states that regulate restoration and custom shops under the same rules that govern straight repair businesses. 

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