5 On Your Side

Backyard Landscaping Woes Lead Johnston Man To Five On Your Side

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Tim Orr
WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — When you are looking for a relatively small job to get done, many people get a quick reference and go from there. However, one person tried that, but he did not get the result he hoped for.

Tim Orr wanted his back yard fixed after he had weeds, rocks, bare spots and drainage problems.

"It's so bumpy. There's tons of rocks in it and it's just not a nice-looking yard," he said.

In March 2004, Orr hired Rick Swinarksi, owner of Carolina Landscape and Turf.

"He was going to kill everything off. Spray it all off. Then, he was going to bring in a couple of dump truck loads of topsoil and he was going to spread it out and make it nice and even," he said.

The contract said Swinarski would also install drainage and sod. The total cost was $1,635. Orr paid $820 upfront. Swinarski was supposed to get the job done that spring.

"I tried getting in touch with him. He was busy with other work and all. It got into the summer. He said he didn't want to lay it in the summer because the sod would all die off, which I agreed with," Orr said.

When Orr called in the fall, he said Swinarski promised to be out the next week. Again, he did not show. By December, Orr said Swinarski agreed to refund his money, but that did not happen.

"I called him, I would say, at least 15 times and got no response back anymore," he said.

After waiting more than a year, Orr called Five on Your Side.

"I was getting nowhere with him," Orr said.

Five On Your Side called Swinarski. He said he had not heard from Orr in a year and was "floored" by the call. He said he thought the refund was already done and it just "slipped through the cracks." He immediately called Orr and promised to put the check in the mail in a week.

Orr is skeptical, saying he has heard that before.

"I'm not holding my breath," he said.

If Swinarski mailed the check by the end of last week as promised, Orr should have it anytime now. Five On Your Side will keep you posted.

Five On Your Side suggests that if you hire a contract, never pay more than 10 percent up front. Then, pay more as work is completed.

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