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 40)
on May 06, 2005
Who would give a care about a non-customer??? The response, you did not buy, you did not like it or could not afford it or both! Stop your crying. You want a piece of flesh.. for what!! We do not put too much concern in people who have not bought the product after a demonstration...with a complaint we follow up with the local franchise and depending on the response from the local francsie and manager and representitve pushes us in a direction. If you are a customer we take it very serious and move to resolve ASAP. Quite frankly, no revenue means very little concern about your complaint on our part! With your posts here I am sure I know why no one took you very seriously!! You are not OUR average customer...you are not even a customer!!! Our customer demo is this..income over $150,000.00...Value of home...250,000.00Plus....age35 to 54. Out of the 250 million in basements last year, well over 71% fit into that criteria. This year we will double that and I am sure you will still be still be crying and trying to bait people.. Other people do buy our product..from all walks of life and income, educated or not, but for the most part the above holds true. I can promise you this...someone in the above criteria does not act the way you do!! Quite frankly you are non-entity who is enjoying his 5 minute of fame thru his posts..Good luck. I am sure my nephew will see you at the next Star Trek convention
on May 06, 2005
Stanley,

My income is not over 150,000 but it is not far off. my home is valued at 170,000. so I guess I don't fit in to your client profile. But I have NO outstanding debt, I own my home and all 4 of my vehicles. No debt (other than 3,000 in credit card debt due to the wife). So I guess I am an idiot that does not meet the HIGH standards of your normal clientel.

Kiss my ass, I am better off than 85% of the american population. You on the other hand are an IDIOT. I will give you credit though, your last post to me was the most coherent, non hostile post I have read from you. Do I scare you into submission?

Your nephew didn 't fall far from the family tree
on May 06, 2005
Tomorrow, salesman from OC will be coming to give the estimate. Will post the sale gimmicks & the whole experience
on May 06, 2005
Tomorrow, salesman from OC will be coming to give the estimate. Will post the sale gimmicks & the whole experience, Live in SE Michigan.
on May 06, 2005
By the way, you idiot , if my home was in the south, West or east coast it would be worth well over 500,000. So go take your nebulous stats and cram them up your ass, you moron.

Only an idiot would quote general statistics and try to make the apply across the country. Where the hell did you go to school,, Watts?

I can see that you must be in sales in some form, you take small amounts of isolated data and try to make it fit to the entire population.

I complement you though, sell to all the uninformed people you want, good for you, it's a free country. Most people don't know a thing about what they are buying.

I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE.

ANd I will not go away, As long as I see your sorry ass posting here, I will be around to put you in your place. You are not the AUTHORITY on basements, you have a vested interest in this product. (although no one would be able to tell by your level headed responses)

ONCE AGAIN I WILL STATE MY POSITION FOR THE SLOW LEARNERS. The product is very good. But you are being ripped off if you purchase it. It is obvious that it is a scam by the sales tactics that are used and approved of.

Certain truths are always truths. One call closes, let me "call my boss" closes, your spouse must be there requirements, reps that quote the job before they even get in the house, reps that won't show you the warranty until you buy......that smells like shit to me.
on May 06, 2005
Stanley,

By the way, a few posts ago you stated " work six days a week and you will be driving a mercedes too". I hate to inform your dumb ass, but lying and ripping people off is not work. The people that are paying for the product actually worked for their money. But your salesmen are one step (or maybe 1/2 step above) carnival workers.

They try to make a need exist where there is not one, they lie, they look for "marks" and they have no remorse when they "score". The more you post the more I am sure you are a low paid grunt in a big company that is trying to justify their existence. Don't come to battle of wits unarmed!! Sorry, I guess you have no other choice.
on May 07, 2005
Crusty - are you a customer or not? If not than why all the complaining about a product/company you have NO interaction with?
on May 09, 2005
Crusty,Crusty,Crusty..Glad to see your level headed!! We have no problem giving people a reduced price if they can make a decision on the first night...the call is to make sure a discount is available in that area. Reps are not allowed to discount more than a couple of points depending on the promotion!!...The spouse must be there because no one can make this type of decision without a partner there. We want them both to get the info first hand. The warranty is available anytime..all reps carry one to show..as a matter of fact when people purchase, one is handed to them that night in a sales folder!.....No one can quote a job until they see the basement..although our statistics read that $40.00 to $45.00 a square foot for everything but carpet seems to be where most jobs are sold and should be sold. 250,000 million last year..double that this year for the Owens Corning Basement System..that is an awfull lot of uniformed people..actually it is just the opposite, our buyers are very intelligent and most are highly educated...probably the big reason you did not buy is that you obviously know everything..we cried at the Cristmas party because of your lost sale. You are correct you are not an OC type of customer..that's ok, not everyone can have nor afford this product, the only people who will suffer is you or your family if wood or drywall or whatever is used in your basement...good luck.
PS. Everyone here is looking forward to your next ignorant, uneducated rant.
on May 11, 2005
The rep. came and explained about the company blah, blah blah..... gave us the video to watch about the Cleveland story about a family that had mold problems with their finished basement (Ofcourse finished with drywall what else) yada, yada,......after an hour of that went to the basement to measure and suggested some design ideas to finish the basement, out basement is about 1600 sq. ft. he said it will be too expensive to finish all, we also didn't want to finish the entire basement. We decided to finish half the basement with five 6 panel doors, recessed light every 5 feet, electrical, two pole wraps, phone & cable included. He also said that interior walls will have only 1" panel & the exterior wall will have the thick panels. They quoted 45K to finish the 836 sq. ft. After discounts .................... 34k, if we sign today it is 30k. We took the quote & said we are looking for Erie Contruction to give us the estimate for the basement. This quote doesn't include carpet & the 1/2 bath we want to finish there.
on May 17, 2005
I came here for some real consumer input -- Thanks for all of you good people who have taken the time to just post your experience w/OC straightforward! It is frustrating to do a web search -- only to turn up a zillion sites that SELL the product! Glad I was able to dig up JoeUser!

It is ALSO frustrating to sift through the mud-slinging posts between apparent employees. Don't ya'll have your own company site to carry on??

Have 3 bid appts. set up for finishing our lower level. The first one was OC which carried on for over 3 hours last night! WAY too long! AND I was appalled that the salesperson actually thought that we may have actually signed a contract on the spot! --So, may I suggest to anyone interested making an appt. for a presentation -- to take charge and cut to the chase! Let them know that you are well informed and have done your homework! All you need ... all you WANT, is a hands on look and feel of the product, an estimate of how much materials would be needed for your specific project, and the absolute rock bottom, no dicker price for installation! THEN, you just want to go have dinner!

In all fairness to the salesperson, we actually liked him -- and he did seem to spare us the "hard sell" -- tho I was aware of the tactics creeping into the conversation now and then!

Our final estimate was actually in line with what we expected to pay.....for the ENTIRE job. Not sure if it will pan out as well once we have estimates on bathroom drywall, fixtures and plumbing. Also HVAC venting, phone, cable wiring, and a tiny little detail of floor covering! -- none of these were addressed in our estimate. We are willing to pay more for the convenience. At this point, we are considering perhaps using the OC wall panels only. Not sure -- still have more estimating to do!

Thanks all for your valuable input!
on May 25, 2005
Glad to have found this site. I ended up paying 30.76 / sqft in NJ.

My basement required a bunch of walls be built running the length of the basement because of piping (could not put panel up to foundation for 1/2 of the basement)

Also have some double doors and long interior walls requiring panelling on both sides. All in all about 2000 sq ft.

I'm sure I could have gotten a basement finished cheaper but picked OC because it will last forever, requires no maintenance, access to foundation, and gets done now ...

Here's how the negotiation went:

$49 sq ft is list, but blah blah blah, it's yours today for only $41 sq ft.

I told him I was looking for 28. He said that was unrealistic but came down to $34 (getting in the ballpark).

I told him to quote me just walls and asked him to step outside so I could talk to my girlfriend.

He comes back at $31.36 to do the whole deal, and his price for just walls was way too high (which I wasn't interested in anyway).

I say I'll talk about it. He goes back to his car to sit so that we can talk.

I decide I'll do it at 30.76. He agrees and we shake hands.

Maybe he would have come down to 25, but I did not get that impression.

I agree he talks too much about mold, but all-in-all my salesman was not very high-pressure, but I could see how the wrong person with that pitch would be high-pressure because the pitch is a little silly to start so high and come down so much.

I'll post again once totally done.

Also, Champion's system does look pretty comparable but it is not in NJ yet. I called while he was in the car.
on May 25, 2005
hey stupid read how many people hate you crooks and youo know what a crook you are stupid your not dealing with a dope here, boy grow up and admit you love all the suckers who buy this junk from you that is 200 % over priced. just remember they may be all stupid but what goes around always comes around,
intheknow
on May 25, 2005
hey stupid read how many people hate you crooks and youo know what a crook you are stupid your not dealing with a dope here, boy grow up and admit you love all the suckers who buy this junk from you that is 200 % over priced. just remember they may be all stupid but what goes around always comes around,
intheknow
on May 25, 2005
so you say they do not own thew government back taxes, guess you don't read the toledo blade then and usa today and why is there stock at crap pices, just above bankruptsy. experts are still crooks read this site dummy people hate the basements experts, they are just above gutter snakes
on May 26, 2005
your the smart guy, do it yourself. why call out a salesperson knowing that they have to do a pitch? no different than buying a car, do you buy at sticker price? got to start high because of cheap asses like you EINSTEIN!
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