3 On Your Side
3 On Your Side

Homeowners say backyard project left unfinished

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3 On Your Side's Gary Harper meets with Jake Henige, hired to do some backyard landscaping. (Source: KTVK) 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper meets with Jake Henige, hired to do some backyard landscaping. (Source: KTVK)
Gary Harper with Rita Roe nd her daughter, Kathy. (Source: KTVK) Gary Harper with Rita Roe nd her daughter, Kathy. (Source: KTVK)
(Source: KTVK) (Source: KTVK)
(Source: KTVK) (Source: KTVK)

Rita Roe, 88, is stuck watering a backyard that she and her daughter, Kathy, say is a complete mess. 

For example, their shrubbery is dying because their irrigation isn't working. And the patio they wanted to extend with pavers isn't finished.

It's a far cry from what this daughter and mother team had in mind when nearly two months ago, they hired a guy by the name of Jake Henige to remodel their backyard.   

"He seemed very friendly.  He seemed very honest,” Kathy told 3 On Your Side. “He said he was military and we are a military family. We try to help our vets,” she said.

Kathy said initially red flags went up when Henige came out to give her and her mom a bid on their backyard. 

"Well, I thought it was kind of funny because he didn't make any drawings. He just went around the yard and shuffled his foot and made sketches in the dirt," she said.

Still, Kathy and her mom agreed to hire the unlicensed contractor and his company, called Strategic Marketing. The price tag was around $9,100, an amount the two women now believe is way overpriced. 

However, it did include artificial grass, pavers and shrubbery, they thought to themselves. But before any work could be started, they claim Henige needed money. 

"I said, ‘How much?’ and he said, ‘$5,400.’  He said he needed half."

After planting a few shrubs, Kathy says Henige asked for more money. She gave him an additional $2,200. 

And then a third time, she gave him another check for $500 because Henige said he needed to buy more materials. 

However, the $500 check was made payable to Sami Palmer, who Henige reportedly claimed was his girlfriend. The two women say they certainly didn’t like what was going on.     

Regardless, Henige did do some work, like putting in some artificial grass, along with some shrubs and he started on those pavers. But according to Kathy and her mom, that's when Henige stopped showing up. And remember, they had already paid more than $8,000 and this has been going on for nearly two months.

So, 3 On Your Side got involved. 

“Hi Jake. This is Gary Harper from Channel 3 and 3 On Your Side,” Harper said as he called Henige and left a voice mail from the two women’s home.

Henige called back a little later and agreed to meet with 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper at Kathy and Rita's Peoria home. It's here, he claims he always intended on finishing their job and did not abandon it. 

"I've never had a job go this way,” he said. “I was clear and concise up front and I've never had anything happen like this."

Henige later says he had no idea he had to be licensed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and that the work he was doing was considered illegal under state law. 

After that issue was brought to his attention, he agreed to return a portion of the  $8,200 he took. 

“Well, you did do some work,” Harper told Henige. 

“So, what do you have in mind when it comes to returning money? You have to have a dollar amount in mind, right?” Harper asked. 

"I don't know, what is the number they want?" Henige asked. 

“Their number is $5,000,” Harper responded.

It was a dollar amount the two women told 3 On Your Side earlier that they thought was appropriate. 

"I was thinking $4,000 but if you want $5,000 that's fine,” Henige said.  “I made my bed and I'll lay in it. That's fine.”

Since that conversation, Henige called 3 On Your Side and said he changed his mind slightly and thought $4,000 was fair for the labor invested. He also claims he will have all $4,000 returned to Kathy and her mom by the end of the month. 

3 On Your Side caught up with Henige about giving some cash back.

UPDATE: After seeing 3 On Your Side's story, a Valley business owner stepped up to do something amazing for the Roes.

Copyright 2016 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. 

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