COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands home construction contractor is facing criminal charges after a young Cayce couple accused him of taking nearly $25,000 for a botched home renovation project.
Cayce police arrested Joshua Barley, 37, late last month, charging him with unlawful practice of a regulated profession and obtaining money or property by false pretenses.
The homeowners, who asked not to be identified, say they hired Barley in July 2016 to do extensive work on the kitchen and bathroom of a house they had bought near Brookland-Cayce High School.
It was the couple's first home together and they had delayed telling friends and family while the house was being updated.
"We wanted the house to be finished, to be remodeled, we move in, have a housewarming party," one of the homeowners said. Instead, she says, "It's a huge disaster."
The couple says Barley promised to have the project completed in two weeks. He began by tearing out walls, plumbing, electrical lines, and fixtures. But after two weeks, they say, Barley repeatedly pushed back the date for the work to be finished.
"He kept canceling appointments that he arranged," the male homeowner said.
By September, the project was nowhere near complete and the couple demanded answers from Barley. They say he walked off the job.
The homeowners say the house had no running water until another contractor restored to service in April, 10 months after Barley shut down the plumbing system and removed sinks, the shower, and toilet.
In October, the couple's attorney notified Barley he had a contractual obligation to complete the job. In January, the City of Cayce sent an inspector to check on the status of the building permit.
After finding the work still unfinished, the case was brought to the attention of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation.
Barley's application for his state license says he would only do roofing, carpentry, and painting or wallpaper work but not plumbing or electrical wiring.
The couple says Barley claimed he was a general contractor, but actually obtained the building permit he needed to do the work through another contractor.
Arrest warrants say Barley made "numerous misrepresentations" to the homeowners, who still cannot live in the house and say they don't have the money to undo the damage. They are staying with family members.
"We're still paying a mortgage on the house. We're paying insurance, taxes, we're still paying the utility bills," the woman said. "I feel like he's stolen a year of my life."
Barley is free on $15,000 bond following his June 26 arrest.
The homeowners say his contractor license expired a few days later.
Barley has declined comment, but his attorney says there may be a "legitimate defense" to the accusations.
Tonight at 6 p.m., our Jack Kuenzie will have more on this story.