KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Another couple has filed a complaint against a Knoxville contractor who required big deposits but has not started the work.
Two families have shared the same story. They hired Sunrooms Express to enclose their screened-in porches with glass windows. Now, the contractor claims negotiations are underway with the couples, however, there is no specific timetable for payments.
In December, WATE first reported issues with Sunrooms Express. A couple paid $13,000 last April to get their job started, but no one has shown up since.
Another couple called Don Dare saying they have the same problem with the same contractor. 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.
The screens remain. No glass enclosure has ever been installed, nor is there any sliding glass door.
“We thought we’d have it by Christmas for sure. Didn’t happen,” said Linda.
The owner of Knoxville’s Sunrooms Express Barry Smith visited the Peek’s home in April of last year
“He came to the house, did some measurements, told us what it cost and we signed the contract and gave him $10,000 as a deposit,” said Linda.
$29,700 was the cost of the project and a deposit was required.
“We liked what he had to offer. Not knowing who we were dealing with,” said Phil.
The couple knew the job would not start immediately, that’s what Barry Smith explained to them.
“He told us then he had a bunch of orders and a bunch of sunrooms to do and it would probably be August,” said Linda.
But when no crew showed up at their home in September. Then again in October, Linda called the company.
“They said, yeah we’re still far behind, I don’t have enough workers. It was just excuse after excuse He said give me another month, I’ll get back with you,” said Linda.
“I called him and I said, we want our money back. He said I’ll have to talk with my financial person and talk with my lawyer and see what we can work out. Since that time, we have heard nothing,” said Phil.
In December, we reported the screened-in porch at Joe and Ruth Andrick’s home was under contract with Sunrooms Express as well.
“All of the old screen and old wood was to be taken down. Then it was all supposed to be glass windows and glass walls all the way around, three sides,” said Ruth.
“24-inch kick panel on the bottom, a sliding glass door and HVAC. And, ah, it just never happened,” said Joe.
The Andricks signed their contract in April, the same month as the Peeks signed theirs. $42,900 was their total price. The owner of Sunrooms Express asked for a third down, nearly $13,000.
“No one ever stepped foot on this property after he left with our money,” said Ruth.
To hear from the owner of Sunrooms Express, Dare went to his Knoxville office. Saying he’s been stressed out recently, Barry Smith was found lying on a sofa, but he agreed to talk. Regarding Linda and Phil Peek, he hopes to return their deposit.
“We just got some jobs in and we are going to pay them back,” said Smith. “As soon as possible.”
Two months ago, the Andricks were anticipating they might get their money back. At least that’s what Smith told us at the time.
“We already have arbitration through a lawyer and we’re going to send them back a settlement,” said Smith in December. “I can’t give the exact date, but soon.”
Regarding the Andricks, the story changed somewhat in a follow-up interview yesterday.
“You had mentioned in December there would be a settlement soon,” said Dare.
“Yes. It’s been raining a lot. We have just not got nothing collected,” said Smith.
Since talking with Ruth and Joe Andrick, they said there’s been no recent discussion at all with Barry Smith. In their first legal step, the Peeks sent a demand letter to Smith.
“I did tell him that I didn’t trust him because of what we had been through and we just wanted the money back,” said Phil.
According to Tennessee consumer law, if a contractor does not start a job within 90 days, your first legal step is to send a demand letter. If the contractor either does not begin the work or does not refund your money, a charge of theft may be filed by local authorities. Both the Andricks and the Peeks are going down that avenue.