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 39)
on Apr 24, 2005
Guys -
just remeber that OC requires its franchised sales offices to have been in the
home improvement business for X number of years. Owners of home improvement
businesses are some of the least ethical business owners around. Don't be surprised
when the product is sold just like siding - it's the only way they know how. These are the
infamous "tin men" of no respect. finding it in the OC name.
on Apr 24, 2005
Guys -
just remeber that OC requires its franchised sales offices to have been in the
home improvement business for X number of years. Owners of home improvement
businesses are some of the least ethical business owners around. Don't be surprised
when the product is sold just like siding - it's the only way they know how. These are the
infamous "tin men" of no respect. finding it in the OC name.
on Apr 24, 2005
Guys -
just remeber that OC requires its franchised sales offices to have been in the
home improvement business for X number of years. Owners of home improvement
businesses are some of the least ethical business owners around. Don't be surprised
when the product is sold just like siding - it's the only way they know how. These are the
infamous "tin men" of no respect. finding it in the OC name.
on Apr 25, 2005
I would like to thank everyone for posting there comments. You have saved me about 50K and a very long contract. I had not heard of the product before and did not have any chance to do any research. After reading everyone's comments, I am much the wiser. I will now talk to my rep. He will either drop the price or we will drop the product.

Our rep did request that my wife be present and did stress the mold. He was very likeable and I trusted his opinion. I also signed a contract the same day. I thank God that a friend called me and told me about this site. Now I am very well armed with knowledge and will not be bullied.

Once again thank you all
on Apr 26, 2005
For those of you that have the option of Champion, I suggest going with them, at least checking them out. We had a similar experience with OC a couple of years ago, before we were aware of Champion. We then saw Champion at a local home show, and decided to have both companies come out (OC for the second time) - see where things were at. The OC guy came out first. It was actually a pleasant experience (the 2nd time around), as he knew upfront a rep had been there before. Got right down to the measurements - and the best deal he gave us was 24K for just under 1000 sq ft (one large room), excluding flooring - actually more $$ than what they quoted 2 years earlier, citing an increase in cost of the materials. Then the Champion guy came out and really impressed. He measured just over a thousand square feet and quoted us slightly more than OC did. When we told him OC beat his bid, he called his boss (apparently a life-long friend) and got the price lowered. To be honest, the guy was a poor salesman. Though the final price was about $850 more, we got slightly more square footage, upgraded ceiling tiles, more lights, more outlets, 1 extra door, an extra cable jack, and installation that was extremely professional and took 8 working days to complete. We were also put in touch with a carpet dealer that gave us a great deal on Stainmaster carpet. In the end, we paid under $25 a sq ft, carpeting included, for a great looking, feeling and sounding basement. To top it all off, 3 weeks after installation was complete, our basement flooded (first time we ever had ANY water in the basement). We were out a $500 deductible and a week's use of our basement, but that's all. If the baseboards were wood and the walls were drywall, we'd have been out much more than that.
on Apr 27, 2005
trust me if you buy the system you are being ripped off huge, they make so much profit it is almost funny. you think you got a great deal you would die if you knew how much that crap really cost. the sales people make so much money and the owners are driving new mercedes and Porsches its criminal how bad they steel from you ignorant people, i have to laugh when
i think that you can get three basements built for the price you pay,and the mold scam is such a joke all made up by the owners. Owens Corning is ashamed of basement Experts or jande or what ever their name is this week or whatever their name in toledo . they are crooks and they have stole millions of dollars from all you stupid homeowenrs who ar two stupid to investigate. how can you people be so dumb. the sales tactic should have been the first give away. the one call close. the reason for he one call close it that if you do have a chance to investigate them you would cancel in a heartbeat. thousands have because they did their homework first and didn't fall for the sales gimmics. The reason Owens Corning looks the other way is because they are also broke and owe the government millions of dollars in taxes and cant afford to do anything to the basement co that sells their product even when they know how bad you people are being ripped off. profit is one thing but out and out theft is another.they get many complaints about the way customers are treated but again it can't be dealt with. lets look at the system, first it is just a piece of insulation with a cloth glued to it. and some celing tile and plastic pieces for trim. whats wrong with you people are you blind. its the same as you paying 60,000 for a chevy sedan, the trouble is you have nothing to compare it to but really,use common sence, if you had paid half the price you still paid 40% to much. there are people that have had the system installed that paid 50% less that you did and the company still made 25% profit on the job. what a bunch of idots you consumers are.cant you just wake up and look fora change you wouldn't let a car dealer do that to you so why did you let a construction company do it to you. they are laughing at every one of you people so hard it is the subject of conversation at each meeting everyday. hey dude guess how bad i stuck it to those dummys last night and everybody laughes. I truly feel sorry for you people that financed it cuz you will e paying for it for a long time now that you know how bad you got riped off.
on Apr 27, 2005
trust me if you buy the system you are being ripped off huge, they make so much profit it is almost funny. you think you got a great deal you would die if you knew how much that crap really cost. the sales people make so much money and the owners are driving new mercedes and Porsches its criminal how bad they steel from you ignorant people, i have to laugh when
i think that you can get three basements built for the price you pay,and the mold scam is such a joke all made up by the owners. Owens Corning is ashamed of basement Experts or jande or what ever their name is this week or whatever their name in toledo . they are crooks and they have stole millions of dollars from all you stupid homeowenrs who ar two stupid to investigate. how can you people be so dumb. the sales tactic should have been the first give away. the one call close. the reason for he one call close it that if you do have a chance to investigate them you would cancel in a heartbeat. thousands have because they did their homework first and didn't fall for the sales gimmics. The reason Owens Corning looks the other way is because they are also broke and owe the government millions of dollars in taxes and cant afford to do anything to the basement co that sells their product even when they know how bad you people are being ripped off. profit is one thing but out and out theft is another.they get many complaints about the way customers are treated but again it can't be dealt with. lets look at the system, first it is just a piece of insulation with a cloth glued to it. and some celing tile and plastic pieces for trim. whats wrong with you people are you blind. its the same as you paying 60,000 for a chevy sedan, the trouble is you have nothing to compare it to but really,use common sence, if you had paid half the price you still paid 40% to much. there are people that have had the system installed that paid 50% less that you did and the company still made 25% profit on the job. what a bunch of idots you consumers are.cant you just wake up and look fora change you wouldn't let a car dealer do that to you so why did you let a construction company do it to you. they are laughing at every one of you people so hard it is the subject of conversation at each meeting everyday. hey dude guess how bad i stuck it to those dummys last night and everybody laughes. I truly feel sorry for you people that financed it cuz you will e paying for it for a long time now that you know how bad you got riped off.
on Apr 28, 2005
WOW, who peed on your cheerios? Talk about a hard on against OC. OC is far from broke and they do not "owe the Government". Perhaps you are an x employee?? Perhaps a prospect who could not afford the product? Well, there is more to the product that your simplistic and vendictive post reads. I do not think people are idiots for buying a great product from a company that has been aound since 1938!!! A fortune 500 no less!! To the prior post yes home improvement people are some of the highest paid people in country because they work six days a week and drive all over Gods creation and put up with ignorant assholes like yourself. They make commission!! (BUY THE WAY A LOT OF OC REPS ARE SALARY AND ARE NOT COMMISSION SALES!!!) So if they do not sell the family does not eat. Tough job and rewarding sometimes, sometimes not. So put a sock in it pal, you sound pretty jealous. Hey, just go out out and work 12 hours a day, six days a week and you'll drive a BMW too!
on Apr 28, 2005
Hey, inthe Know (sic) I'm an OC rep for a Reputable company thats been around for a long time. The product is top of the line and does cost alot but you get what you pay for and your analogy would accuse everyone that has a luxury car of being stupid, The only ones who knock luxury cars are the ones that are jealous and cant afford them and maybe someone with alterior motives. I've sold many basements and I give my clients a fair price for what they get,I dont gouge anyone! I don't have a luxury car. I work hard 6 sometimes 7 days a week and am about to travel almost 2 hours to an appointment if I can convince the client to purchase today that saves a lot of time and money for everyone so we pass it on to the client. So please think before you accuse people of being crooks. The guy putting sheetrock in a basement is usually the one making a lot of money since his cost of goods is such a small percentage of the job cost as opposed to the OC products price which is mostly the the product. Get a life and God Bless.


on Apr 28, 2005
This is a pretty nice site! I do like all the input. The truth of the matter is I am a salesman for the Basement Experts, known as OC on this site. I have been selling basement systems for them since day 1. I work for a great company and a great friend; he is not all about the money, he likes to help people also. An example, about 2 years ago my car broke down and I had to ask my boss for the money for a new truck, he went and got the money out of his own personal account - FACT. I help people with their basement purchase more than anybody, hands down. I don’t sell anybody anything that they haven’t asked to be shown or have an interest in. People ask all the time how I get so many orders – it’s the product I represent, it sells itself. If you think I’m your typical “tin man” salesman, WRONG, if you were to see me you would not even know I’m a salesman. I wear blue jeans, pullover shirt, tennis shoes and my favorite baseball cap. I know the facts of the products and do not beat people up on price. When I look you in the eyes you can see that I’m sincere. That is not something you can teach – it is a quality that is in you or not in you. We just got a memo at the office. “Dress slacks, dress shirt and dress shoes” – sorry folks that’s not me. I will still be wearing my blue jean, tennis shoes and ball cap. When you invite me out to your home I show you the product, do a drawing and give you the price. If you like what you see and it fits in your budget, then tell me and I will get it started for you. If not we part as friends, no harm done. I’m seeing a lot of talk about pricing per square foot. Please keep in mind that every basement system is designed exclusively for YOU! It’s not a cookie cutter mold. Many variables go into pricing: electrical, egress windows, lighting, outlets, trim, doors, stairways, ceilings, plumbing, etc, etc, etc. I could go on for days on the different variables in each job but that’s the basic gist. There’s some talk of “high pressure sales tactics” on the board and I’d like to explain that from the other side. You’re right there is some pressure involved. It is not me applying the pressure; it is the people who really want their basement done, that is where the pressure is coming from. Think about it please. If you, the customer, do not like the product there is no pressure for you to buy, is there? I’d like to mention a few things that the consumer should know about the OC salespeople. We pay for our own car, gas, insurance, tolls and all meals while on the road. On the average I spend 12-16 hours a day at work, driving an average of 400 miles a day. If a customer is not ready to finalize their system while the OC salesperson is there, we just do not have time to drive back. If I went back to every customer repeatedly, I would never see my wife and kids!

I work the Ohio, Michigan and Indiana areas. If you need help you can call me and I will try to lend a hand 419-574-3406 or email at bbhaul@yahoo.com. Please understand that I am on the road 6 days a week and sometimes don’t get to my computer for a few days
Thanks for your time!
Bobby

PS: For all the people that have the OC basement system – THANK YOU!! You have the nicest basement around. I hope you and your family enjoy it!!
Bobby, Toledo, Ohio Office - 419-574-3406 or bbhaul@yahoo.com
on Apr 28, 2005
This is a pretty nice site! I do like all the input. The truth of the matter is I am a salesman for the Basement Experts, known as OC on this site. I have been selling basement systems for them since day 1. I work for a great company and a great friend; he is not all about the money, he likes to help people also. An example, about 2 years ago my car broke down and I had to ask my boss for the money for a new truck, he went and got the money out of his own personal account - FACT. I help people with their basement purchase more than anybody, hands down. I don’t sell anybody anything that they haven’t asked to be shown or have an interest in. People ask all the time how I get so many orders – it’s the product I represent, it sells itself. If you think I’m your typical “tin man” salesman, WRONG, if you were to see me you would not even know I’m a salesman. I wear blue jeans, pullover shirt, tennis shoes and my favorite baseball cap. I know the facts of the products and do not beat people up on price. When I look you in the eyes you can see that I’m sincere. That is not something you can teach – it is a quality that is in you or not in you. We just got a memo at the office. “Dress slacks, dress shirt and dress shoes” – sorry folks that’s not me. I will still be wearing my blue jean, tennis shoes and ball cap. When you invite me out to your home I show you the product, do a drawing and give you the price. If you like what you see and it fits in your budget, then tell me and I will get it started for you. If not we part as friends, no harm done. I’m seeing a lot of talk about pricing per square foot. Please keep in mind that every basement system is designed exclusively for YOU! It’s not a cookie cutter mold. Many variables go into pricing: electrical, egress windows, lighting, outlets, trim, doors, stairways, ceilings, plumbing, etc, etc, etc. I could go on for days on the different variables in each job but that’s the basic gist. There’s some talk of “high pressure sales tactics” on the board and I’d like to explain that from the other side. You’re right there is some pressure involved. It is not me applying the pressure; it is the people who really want their basement done, that is where the pressure is coming from. Think about it please. If you, the customer, do not like the product there is no pressure for you to buy, is there? I’d like to mention a few things that the consumer should know about the OC salespeople. We pay for our own car, gas, insurance, tolls and all meals while on the road. On the average I spend 12-16 hours a day at work, driving an average of 400 miles a day. If a customer is not ready to finalize their system while the OC salesperson is there, we just do not have time to drive back. If I went back to every customer repeatedly, I would never see my wife and kids!

I work the Ohio, Michigan and Indiana areas. If you need help you can call me and I will try to lend a hand 419-574-3406 or email at bbhaul@yahoo.com. Please understand that I am on the road 6 days a week and sometimes don’t get to my computer for a few days
Thanks for your time!
Bobby

PS: For all the people that have the OC basement system – THANK YOU!! You have the nicest basement around. I hope you and your family enjoy it!!
Bobby, Toledo, Ohio Office - 419-574-3406 or bbhaul@yahoo.com
on May 01, 2005
Loved the idea. I was thinking the same thing and I'm glad to see it can be done.

-raul
on May 02, 2005
Stanley,
Every, I repeat Every post on this site by you is just idiotic. you bitch, insult and harass everyone that says anything bad about the basement system.
If you think that your helping OC with your posts,,,, Keep it up, you genius, I am sure that you are winning over many people.

I have been very impressed with your posts so far. You come across as an educated professional, NOT!

Gullible people can always justify their decision.

Why don't you post your position at OC. OR is being a janitor to demeaning for you to admit too.
on May 05, 2005
Stanley,

Kiss my ass
on May 05, 2005
For everyones info, I had a terrible experience with the basement system rep. I emailed OC at their web site and was very explicit with my concerns. That was about 2 months ago and to date I have not received any response at all. I think that this lets you know how much a 5 BILLION (to quote STANLEY) a year company cares about the average consumer.


Stanley KISS MY ASS