KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville businessman was arrested over the weekend and charged with theft and impersonating a licensed contractor.
Since December, WATE has reported the business dealings of Barry Smith, the owner-operator of Sunrooms Express. Most recently, Vicki Richards of Maryville shared that she expected Smith to complete her sunroom by last Thanksgiving after she had signed her contract in May of 2022. She is yet another dissatisfied customer who told us a similar story about Smith’s business.
“This is the slab of cement that was poured in the middle of September. I was hopeful that my sunroom would come right after this was poured,” said Richards.
However, her hope was dashed. There is no sunroom on Richards’ new back porch in Maryville.
“I wanted a Four Seasons sunroom because as you can see my little home is very little and I wanted to add onto it,” said Richards.
The Four Seasons glass-enclosed sunroom would provide the added space. She signed her contract with Barry Smith, the owner of Sunrooms Express. The cost was $41,500. She put down $10,000 to start the patio.
“This is my contract that we drew up on May 11th last year stating that he would do the work in August and build me my sunroom,” she said.
It was late September when the patio was finished, the first step of the process. After the cement slab was poured, Richards says Smith asked her for another $10,000 to order the sunroom kit. However, no kit ever arrived and Richards said Smith told her “everyone must wait their turn.”
“He stayed in touch with me, constantly staying in touch with me, making promise after promise it would be two more weeks, two more weeks,” said Richards.
Nine months after signing that contract with Sunrooms Express, and six months of waiting for additional progress, Richards called Barry Smith, hoping to get answers and for the work to start.
“I told him on March 1st that if I didn’t have my sunroom by April 1st that I wanted my money back. He said I’m getting ready to place your order again with a company in Florida called Structall,” said Richards.
Richards contacted the Florida company in late April and talked with the production department.
“She said we do have an order with your name on it. However, no one ever signed off on this order, it is just strictly a quote,” said Richards.
Linda and Phil Peek hired Barry Smith’s Sunrooms Express a year ago to enclose their screened-in back porch. They paid Smith $10,000 to get the job started. The Four Seasons glassed-in porch was never built.
WATE’s Don Dare visited Smith’s office in February and was told by Smith that he would return the deposit to Linda and Phil Peek.
“We just got some jobs in. We are going to pay them back,” said Smith in February.
The Peeks are still waiting for their deposit and Dare returned to Barry Smith’s office late last week. It was locked, and no one was inside. When he called his number, Dare got an answering service and asked that Smith return his call. He never did.
On May 14, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office charged Smith with theft between $10,000 and $60,000 and impersonating a licensed professional.
The arrest warrant for Smith said after entering into a contract and receiving down payments from two customers, the projects were never started. Under Tennessee state law, a contractor can be charged with theft, if after 90 days, no work begins. First, however, the customer must send a demand letter, requesting the job to get underway.