Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
My review and experience with it
Published on May 1, 2005 By Draginol In Home Improvement

If you decide you want to finish your basement there are lots of options to consider.  Do you do it yourself? Do you contract it out? Maybe do a little in between? For me and my wife, we just aren't handy enough to try to finish a basement on our own.  So we decided we'd contract the whole thing out.

Once you decide you're going to contract it out, then it's a matter of deciding what direction to take with it. Do you go with drywall? The problem with drywall is that it takes months to put in (how long do you want contractors going in and out of your house?).  It makes a lot of mess (expects months if not years of drywall dust to be floating around your house), it's susceptible to damage from a wide range of sources (water, normal wear and tear due to it being in a basement).  So we wanted our basement finished but drywall had a lot of negatives to it.

That's when we heard about the Owens Corning Basement System.  After intense negotiations, we had it done.  And below you can read about our experiences during the sales process, installation, and after effects.  I hope you find it useful.

The Owens Corning Basement System has been in place now for our basement for about a month now so I've had time to get used to it.

The project went pretty smoothly except for a few hiccups that I'll talk about here. So what's the verdict? Here are the things I really liked about it:

  1. It's fast. In 2 weeks it's all done.
  2. It's clean. No dry wall dust all over.
  3. It's durable. It's virtually impossible to damage. Basements, unlike the rest of the house, are more prone to dings since that's where most people store things too.
  4. It's virtually sound proof. This was an unexpected benefit. But the kids can go and play down there without having to hear music, TV, yelling throughout the house.
  5. It looks pretty nice still (but not as nice as dry wall in my opinion).
  6. It is nice to know that in 20 years it'll look the same as today. Dry wall in basements tend to not look so good. At best you'll have to repaint larger areas. With this, you don't have to.

The big thing for us though was the speed of it. My first basement was done with dry wall and I have no regrets about that. It was nicely done. But it took months to do and over a year for the house to stop having more dust in it than before. The dry wall dust simply gets everywhere.

If you're as unhandy as me, then you likely want contractors to do pretty much all the building. It can be uncomfortable having strangers in your house for months. In contrast, the Owens Corning Basement System was installed in our roughly 1100 to 1200 square foot area in about 2 weeks (closer to 10 days).

In short, I was willing to pay a premium to not have to deal with a summer of construction. The fact that it looks nice and can't be damaged easily was a real bonus. My 3 year old already put that to the test by taking a permanent marker to one of the walls. In a few minutes we were able to wipe it off with some bleach and you can't even tell where it was. Contrast that to having to repaint that area with a dry wall basement. Not to mention all the nicks and gouges that would be there due to moving stuff down there.

That said, here are things that I ran into that I didn't like that you should be aware of:

I really didn't like the sales strategy of their sales people. High pressure combined with little specifics created a lot of headaches during the project.

First off, people who can afford to pay a premium for their basement being done aren't fools. Even so, they used the same tactic on us as they would on some gullible yokel. No offense, but the reason we can afford this stuff is because we have some financial savvy. So don't march into our houses with magazines showing that the "Average" basement costs over $50 per square foot to finish. Because that's nonsense and does more to harm your sale than anything else. Sure, if you're going to have bathrooms and kitchens and tiled areas and wet bars and such it will cost more, but the Owens Corning System doesn't take care of any of that. They just do the "walls", drop down ceiling, electrical, and a few other things. They're not going to build you a bar or tile your floor for you (unless you make a special deal with them). Just for reference, a typical basement done with dry wall with nothing too fancy done shouldn't cost much more than $20 per square foot. Our last dry wall basement cost around $17 per square foot.

The price you should try to get with the Owens Corning Basement System is somewhere between $25 and $35 per square foot. They may balk at $25 but $35 they should certainly take. I paid about $28 per square foot. $30 per square foot would be good. Anything much higher and you're paying too much. Which is why they do the high pressure tactic to get you to sign right there.  To the sales guy's horror, I made him sit there while I had my laptop doing net searches on how much other people have paid. By the way, be aware that most states do have a law that allow you to back out of contracts within 72 hours. So if they did manage to get you to commit for $55 per square foot or something you aren't up the creek.

The second thing I didn't care for was the amount of vagueness to the agreement. Because of the high pressure sales tactics, the sales guy didn't write down a lot of our specific needs on his "agreement" (which was literally just a 1 page form he hand wrote notes on which I was pretty unhappy about). For instance, we said we wanted padded carpet so he suggested Home Depot. Which we did. But they didn't cut the doors so that they would fit on padded carpet so when we put in the carpeting, we had to take off the doors. It took us 3 weeks to get them to make good on this. They argued it wasn't their responsibility to fix the doors. Nonsense. We told them up front that we were going to get padded carpet. For us to fix would have meant bringing in another contractor. They agreed to fix it only after I made it clear that I would ensure that my experiences with the Owens Corning Basement System would show up high on google. It took the guy 30 minutes to fix it once he dropped by. So they made good but it did mar an otherwise fairly seamless experience.

So make sure that you are clear (and document) exactly what they do and what they expect you to do. The Owens Corning contractors don't tend to do as much as regular full service basement contractors. They weren't planning on putting in our phone and cable lines for example but luckily that was written into that agreement.

Thirdly, the only negative I've run into since putting it in is that it is, contrary to what they said, not that easy to hang things up on the walls. Since they're not drywall, you can't just put in a nail and put stuff up. You have to use special clipper thingies. These work nice on light things. But they didn't give us any samples or directions or order forms to get things for putting up heavier items (like a big white board for example). This has been a source of some ire since it's turning out not easy to find these "mending plates" in low quantities. Office Max and Staples don't seem to have them. None of the hardware stores we've looked at have them. I've looked on the net and I can buy them in quantity (like 1000 at a time) but I only need like 5. My suggestion is to insist that they provide you with 100 of the t-pins (small stuff) and 100 mending plates (big stuff) as part of the agreement.

Fourthly, this gets back to the "customers are suckers" sales pitch. The sales guy and his materials really went hard on the mold scare tactic. Mold is definitely something not to blow off. But it should not be your motivating factor to spend a third again as much on a basement. Would you pay $15000 more on your house for a "lightning strike resistant" design? The kinds of houses most people who would put this stuff in are usually newer and on the premium side. The basements, in short, don't get wet very easily. That isn't to say they shouldn't mention mold, but it should be more of a "bonus" feature rather than as the principle selling point.

Now that it's all done, I'm pretty happy with it. I like knowing that I won't have to mess around with painting or touching up the basement in a few years. I do wish it was easier to modify with other things. For instance, I can't just build out a bar from it. But that is no biggie really. The basement does what it was supposed to do. And even better, since I want to have a theatre down there eventually, it's got incredible acoustics. If you have the money and are more interested in having your basement be finished quickly and cleanly rather than having some incredible basement palace created, this is something you should seriously consider.

Completion date: September 2003.

Update: September 2005: I have created a second article for people who want to share their experiences (good and bad) with the Owens Corning Basement System. GO HERE to discuss.

update: 10/2003 - still pretty happy with the basement. thanks for all your emails. if you have any questions, ask them in the comments area or you can email me at bwardell@stardock.com.

update: 5/1/2005 - still happy with how it's turned out. I get a  lot of email on this stuff from people, I don't usually get to answer it. But I will say that we are happy with it still. It absorbs sound. But I maintain that the main reason to get it is that you want to save time. If you don't mind having people working on your basement for 6 to 10 weeks and the drywall dust and other dirt that is inevitable with dry-wall then get the dry-wall.  But for me, having it all over in a week or so was the key and no mess afterwards.


Comments (Page 10)
on Jul 10, 2004
Reply to Mike:
I would check your warranty. Drywall is not cool in the basement. Owens Corning might even void your warranty. The franchise is NOT supposed to use drywall at all. That is the whole point of the system. I would call Owens corning not the franchise to make sure.
on Jul 13, 2004
Wow! This is the first time I have seen this site....lots of great info here. I wish my wife and I would've seen this before we had the salesman out to our house. It would've saved us (Installer in SE Michigan and my wife and I) a lot of time and effort.

Basically, we did the research on the product, had a couple of drywall estimates and decided that if the OC product was in the ballpark with the drywall guys we would purchase it and then had the salesperson out to our house for an estimate/pitch. After discounting to 30% off the first price we told him that we still would like to think it over and that we were happy with the price. After some "discussion" he left without incident.

Over the next 3 days, we received 4 calls asking if we still would be interested in the product. Each time we said yes, each time someone different called and offered us a further "discount" if we would allow another person out to our house to remeasure or something like that.

In the end, we had the General Manager out to our house and received almost a 50% discount off the salesman's orig price. While we got a great deal, I was more than a bit put off by his badmouthing of the salesperson who came out the first time. My wife finally had to ask him if the guy was so bad, why did they let him work for the company? No real answer for that.

The install took 3 days (712 sq ft) and we couldn't be happier with it. We did have a problem with one panel being stained by our son and the installer came back to replace it the next week with no hassle. We've had the OC in our basement now for 8 months and couldn't be happier with it.

My advice would be if you like the system, get the estimate and wait it out for a couple of days. If the installer would come back and finish our basemet for 50% off the orig price, I would guess they could do that for everyone.
on Jul 18, 2004
We had a sales person from a local franchise come and give us an estimate. The price seemed reasonable less than $20/sft of floor area , after couple of discounts and pressure to sign the contract right away. The job we talked with the sales person included OC panels for the exterior walls and standard drywall for the interior walls, drop ceilings, doors, boxing the beams and columns - just about everything except flooring. However, the document we were offered to sign did not scope out the work. We were told that a detailed plan would be attached later once a technician comes over.

I wonder if this is standard and has anyone experienced this. After reading some of the comments above about the sales tactics, I wonder if they start to nickle and dime later or simply say that certain things are out of scope, particularly he discounted to get the job.

Yes, we too went through the same mold and fireproof drill.
on Jul 18, 2004
Under no circumstance should an Owens Corning Basement system be combined with drywall in any way. You should contact Owens Corning and ask them how they feel, not the franchise. Owens Corning will not honor your warranty. Drywall and would should not go down into the basement. It defeats the whole story.
on Jul 19, 2004
My husband and I were very uncertain about having a rep from J & E come to our house. The last thing we wanted were high pressure sales tactics. The guy who came out was totally awesome!! NO BS and NO high pressure. I liked the fact that he was willing to let us come and see his basement first(which he had finished with Owens Corning). We had actually gotten his name from another friend who said that you have to call this guy!! It was a very comfortable experience all the way around and the price was around $28.00 per sq ft. He even gave our friends a gift for referring us, which I thought was a class act. If you live in Michigan I would deal with this guy all the way "Tim" or tell J&E you want him as your rep. If anyone wants his number I'm sure he won't mind. It's 248-891-9700. We were also told we would get a kick back on anyone who bought if we do open houses in our neighborhood. Thought you might like to hear some good news!!!!!
on Jul 19, 2004
My husband and I were very uncertain about having a rep from J & E come to our house. The last thing we wanted were high pressure sales tactics. The guy who came out was totally awesome!! NO BS and NO high pressure. I liked the fact that he was willing to let us come and see his basement first(which he had finished with Owens Corning). We had actually gotten his name from another friend who said that you have to call this guy!! It was a very comfortable experience all the way around and the price was around $28.00 per sq ft. He even gave our friends a gift for referring us, which I thought was a class act. If you live in Michigan I would deal with this guy all the way "Tim" or tell J&E you want him as your rep. If anyone wants his number I'm sure he won't mind. It's 248-891-9700. We were also told we would get a kick back on anyone who bought if we do open houses in our neighborhood. Thought you might like to hear some good news!!!!!
on Jul 19, 2004
Once again old fag boy JQ is having people plant bullshit all over this page! Heres the bottom line if you do buisness with this company your getting screwed right in the ass! If you really want to know names and phone numbers of real cuctomers that will say nothing but crap about -@- home improvements then I will post them on this website then you all can talk to them yourselves and really here for yourselves I will personally ask them for you I know where most of them still live! Hey Fag boy Timbo next time when you really want to sound like a happy customer of yours dont give out your phone number you DUMBASS!!!! Give me a call sometime Tim and I will personally teach you how to sell myself. You wouldnt even have to worry about trying to get better leads if 4 eyes wouldnt send out bullshit all the time Oh I forgot his dad learned at Erie. Once again people dont sign the first night and everthing will be O.K.






P.S. So how are Ya Daddys Puppet!






P.S.S. As a customer if you do buisness with the Toledo OC basement Franchise I personally feelsorry for you you have better things to do with that kind of money like ( Kids in College or by yourself a cottage and finish with drywall what eber you do just remember$$$$$)





Well Folks Once again until next time have a good day and remember Dont do buisness with toledo!!!
on Jul 20, 2004
To # 1:

All right idiot boy post the names so we can call. How many are there 1 , 3, 5?? Let's see them so we can call. Or are you just a bitter ex-employee with an ax to grind? Your comment sounds very high school, like some one stole your lunch seat. Put up or shut up, no one believes you with vulgarity and teenage comments like the last.
on Jul 20, 2004
Hey #1 business is spelled this way not buisness. Very nice! Great reply Bob C
on Jul 21, 2004
our salesman told us the panels would be about $50.00 to replace
on Jul 21, 2004
To VJ:
Better check with the office on how much the panels are to replace. The salesman might have misquoted you. The MLP of the panels are between 170.00 and 175.00 a LF. But that also includes electric.
on Jul 25, 2004
A sales rep from Canton Mass offered me a total cost for a 240sq ft basement walls,ceiling,6 lights, 4 basement windows, double door to unfinished basement and single door to finished laundry with 8 foot electric heat, all the permits, wired for electric with addition panel in basement, cable and phone for 18,000. He stated the work would be done in November and it would only take a week. I wish I had seen this site before signing. Thanks
on Jul 26, 2004
To SM:
You should have paid about 45.00 a sq. ft. The room is smaller so it actually costs a little more. 75.00 a sq. ft is not fair. Call the people and tell them you will not let the room go in untill they renogotiate the price and see if that works.
on Jul 30, 2004
I'm involved with a franchise and I appreciate your honest comments. The system is everything that it is portrayed to be. The cost will vary from market to market. The cost that you are not able to easily see is the very high marketing cost. This is normal for a new product that has little or no competition. We have to spend way more money to let the marketplace know that the product even exists. You have failed to recognize that Owens Corning has also spent millions of dollars developing this unique product. The material cost is high because the development costs were high. The installers are all certified. They have all been through the OC installation program. This is way different from the "Bubba" that will be selling you a drywall or panel system. The sales tactics...well...they should be honest. But quite frankly, so should the customer. We do offer incentives to buy on the first visit. We also offer a very good price that is quaranteed for 30 days if you do not buy on the first visit. Many of my customers purchase the first time we visit. They have done their homework, they know what the product offers and as long as the price is within their acceptance range, they buy. If you like the salesman, the company, the product and the price, why not buy. More at a later date.
on Aug 02, 2004
I had OC come out to give me an estimate on my basement, the salesman was decent with me, no high pressure crap. Didn't pull the call the manager to do the "look I want to get the lowest price for these people" tactic. He gave us a price at around $25 per sq./ft. He goes on to say, I wont pressure you into trying to sign tonight like other people do, if you want this, the price isn't going to change in a day.

When i called back to see where we were at on the project I found out that he had quit. They sent out another salesman, who tried all the crappy sales techniques in the book, goes on to have some small talk conversations with me about all the drugs he did when he was younger, you know the usual professional topics. He goes on to give us a quote at $40 a sq./ft. He haggles that price after the call to the manager down to a little over $30 per square. He left saying, I'm sorry I'll talk to my manager and give you a call back after our weekly meeting on Friday when I find out what we can do for you.

In the mean time we called the general manager on Monday, he tells us the retail price, which was somehow $2000 higher, than the price we could get it at which was around $21,000. Did not hear anything until Saturday, 6 days longer than the salesman told us he'd call, he tells me he has been "battling with his boss" all this time, yeah right, and lost the battle, the price stood at $22,750. Funny, the general manager gave me a price lower than that, isnt that who you were "battling" with all this time, he didn't even know we talked to him.

I've been in contact with the original salesman, who quit because he couldn't stand the b.s. and lying that went along with this company. He goes on to tell me the ridiculous markup on these panels. Retail is around $186 a panel, but if they sell it at $85 a panel they're still making money.

I also don't believe the price per square should be that significantly different through different areas. Remembering that it only takes a week to install, labor should be nowhere near the cost of any other contractor using materials like drywall and wood for the framework which takes much longer to install.

This product could easily sell itself without the pushy unprofessional sales tactics that are being used. I think this site is very helpful, hopefully OC checks this out to see they're losing sales on this system, I would have signed if not for the horrible run around from these rip off artists. The only thing wrong with this site is the ignorant comments from what appears to be the people selling this product. Way to prove a point, act like pushy tough guy know it all immature morons some more, I haven't seen enough of that.