KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee couple is one step closer to coming to terms with a company that builds sunrooms.

Since mid-December, WATE has reported that several couples have paid big deposits to Sunroom Express in Knoxville. However, their projects never started. Now after a year of waiting, there’s some progress. For one couple, there’s been some legal movement.

Joe and Ruth Andrick sued the owner of Sunrooms Express demanding their refund be returned. A date to hear the case in court was postponed twice. Now, the couple says they have been told Sunrooms Express wants to negotiate first, out of court, to resolve the issue.

To their disappointment, Joe and Ruth Andrick’s back porch has not changed since last April. They were expecting their porch to be enclosed with glass by the fall of last year. Joe Andrick is disgusted with the time lost and money spent in trying to improve his home. The Andricks hired Sunrooms Express of Knoxville to do the work.

“He took a check for almost $13,000 back last April and he never came back,” said Ruth Andrick.

The contract was drawn up and signed on April 29, 2022. $42,900 was the total price and Sunrooms Express wanted a deposit of $12,900.

“I would have been pleased if it had started in October. It wasn’t started in October, or November, or December,” said Joe Andrick. “He was going to replace the whole bottom end with a glass enclosure 24-inch kick panel on the bottom, a sliding glass door and HVAC. And, ah, it just never happened.”

The owner-operator of Sunrooms Express is Barry Smith. The small print of his contract with the Andricks says the normal installation is 30-60 days. That would have meant last July at the latest. Then he added to the contract to make August or September the start date because they were busy.

On Oct. 3, the couple received this voicemail from Smith.

“Hey Joe, this is Barry with Sunrooms. Your materials have been ordered a while. all your metal is on the dock in Nashville. We’re building everything, everybody is happy. We just can’t build them fast enough,” said Smith in the voicemail.

However, the Andricks project never got built and remains unfinished.

Smith talked with WATE’s Don Dare last December. He said after the Andrick Family hired an attorney, he did too. Dare asked about the big deposit he has and why the job never got started.

“We deposited that to buy the materials,” said Smith. “We don’t get the materials delivered until we are ready to start the job. We were behind, we lost four crews due to health.”

More Don Dare Investigation

In February, Linda and Phil Peek explained how their back porch was to be remodeled.

“Well all this screen was going to be replaced with glass and then he was going to put in a sliding glass door right here. And that was it,” said Linda Peek.

But no one from Sunrooms Express ever returned to do the job no glass enclosure was ever installed. The cost of their project was nearly $30,000 and a $10,000 down payment was paid to Smith a year ago.

In February, Dare returned to Smith’s Sunrooms Express office. Saying he was stressed at the time, Smith nevertheless agreed to talk and told Dare he hoped to return Linda and Phil Peek’s deposit.

“We just got some jobs in and we are going to pay them back,” said Smith.

But two months later, the Peeks are still waiting for their $10,000 deposit. Fed up with waiting, the Andricks filed a civil suit against Smith and Sunrooms Express.

“I was expecting to have a one-on-one with Barry Smith because it was civil court. The day we showed up, it didn’t work out that way. That next day he hired an attorney, the judge told me he had a continuance,” said Joe Andrick.

The Andricks said they were told by Smith’s new attorney last week, he wants to reach an agreement out of court to resolve their differences.

“I want my money, that’s all want,” said Joe Andrick.

WATE reached out to Smith and to his new attorney for comment, but we have not heard back. A date has been set to hear Smith’s compromise with the Andricks. July 26 is when he is supposed to tell the judge his decision.