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 51)
on Nov 08, 2006
This is the worst mistake my husband and I made was to install this product in our basement. Let's put aside the HIGH PRESSURE sales tactics and high cost. I have a 4 page document detailing all of the issues we had with their subcontractors. Everything from, crooked sofits to bad installation of the walls because of the baseboard heating (which I was ASSURED) would not be an issue, to having to fire the first contractor because he did such a horrific job, to not showing up to do work when scheduled etc. Oh yes and the timeframe it took for the basement to be completed...well let me tell you. They quoted us approximately 10 days for the work to be completed. The work began on 11/16/04 and we had OC in our home until end of Jan. 05. Hmmm, by my calculations, taking away all the holidays, this is still much longer than 10 days. The only change we made was to have an additional door hung that we had purched, that tacked on 1 more day.

Another issue with having this system installed is that you can not easily move things around or hang a heavy object. We wanted to move some cabinets to another location in the basement, but hadn't preplanned for it so we were out of luck. That is unless I want to pay them more $$ to come in and make changes....UH NO! The color of the walls can not be changed and they do dent easily. After almost 2 years, I now have this horrible odor in the basement that I have not been able to identify and am begining to wonder if it has anything to do with the OC system. I have yet to take down the panels because I would like to think this is not the culprit after all we went through. I can say this, if and when the wall panels get removed, and if this is the cause of any odor, OC will have one hell of a lawsuit on their hands.

To everyone, STAY AWAY FROM OWENS CORNING BASEMENTS!!!!!!!!
on Nov 08, 2006
Sue, my husband and I made the same mistake. We're in NY. And although the company who installed ours is very reputable, I very dissatisfied with the product. It does dent easily and nothing is lined up nicely. I hate it. But what's done is done. Hopefully others will heed our warning. The system is garbage and unless you have money to burn, don't do it. I hope we don't get that odor. So far we don't have it but we've only had the system a couple of months. Please keep us posted on the odor issue and its cause. Good luck.
on Nov 08, 2006
We probably had the same installer since we're both in NY. Like me you probably paid a small forture for your basement. The salesman we dealt with was a liar and a low life. His name is Mike. We fell for their BS discounts and what not. You can't compare OC with a pricey luxury vehicle. We didn't realize how cheap it would look when it was completed. It looks like a big cubicle. Even the expensive leather couches we put in our basement can't dress it up. The walls dent easily despite the salesman's lie that they wouldn't. When we tell people what we spent they can't believe it since it looks so cheap. And believe me, we don't own anything cheap.
on Nov 10, 2006
Here is my experience with OC in Columbus, Ohio - (NOVEMBER 2006).
The company is called "OC Basement Finishing System" and is located at 2050 Integrity Dr. S., Columbus, OH 43209.

The sales rep (Brad) came over and was very polite and not pushy at all. He spent well over 4 hours measuring the basement and offering suggestions and/or answering questions.

The basement was straightforward. Only long walls, without many corners.

After negotiations, the price for a 835 sqft basement was brought 'down' to $30,200. This was after he called his 'manager' at 7:30 PM, etc. This final cost also included the various Flex Pay discount, 2% Showcase discount, etc, etc. I was also willing to pay CASH. (he offered me a 'loan' for around 20%, which I dont need)

That comes to around $36.16 per sqft.

OF course, he wanted me to sign the contract the SAME NIGHT, since all discounts only hold good for that NIGHT.

I wanted to do some more research and I made sure that I can cancel the whole thing within 3 days, without the 25% penalty...

When I did research, I found that some of my neighbors had finished basement thro the same company at a rate of $28.75 a sqft. This included various extras, like glass doors, baseboard heaters, etc, etc.

When I asked OC to do mine for the same sqft cost (28.75), I just got a one liner email back --> They cannot do it. The rep also told me that "square footage cannot directly be related to the cost as materials used, namely lineal feet drives cost."

So, I cancelled the contract within 3 days. I honestly think that even though this is a good technology, it DOES NOT warrant a cost of $30 per sqft.

I will get my basement finished the traditional way and use the rest of the money to build a kick ass home theater! (house is just one year old - new construction, and has a perfectly dry basement)
on Nov 18, 2006
Hi SJC-1,

How did it go? Did you use the distributor based on Canton? How much $/sf? Thanks.

- MC
on Nov 18, 2006
Hi, Has anyone had this done in southern NH? We had the OC rep in for for an extimate and after a little singing and dancing he came to $30,400 for 640sf for everything but the flooring. One provision was that we wait to start the project in January and sign them up "soon". We requested a very basic configuration -- just wrap the walls on 4 sides, jog around 2 low-hanging pipes, wrap an HVAC vent that runs the lenth of the ceiling, create the 4th wall one, 14 cans, 2 radiant electrical heaters, 3 doors, enclosed under the stairway, drop ceiling, etc. We then got estimates from 2 traditional basement contractors. One came back with a $27,000 price with a traditional ceiling and no flooring. The other came back with a $35,000 price with a drop ceiling and included $25/sf for flooring.

That puts the OC estimate in the middle of the two traditional drywall estimates. I was a little surprised given the statements made here. I expected the drywal estimates to come in much lower. Also, I'm a little surprisd at the sf price range -- $42/sf to $54/sf. My wife thought the first price was a joke. Any other experiences with OC and drywall basement estimates in southern NH (near Nashua)? Thanks.

- Mike in So NH.
on Nov 18, 2006
Have had OC basement for 2 years now and it is wonderful. Looks perfect. I have 1000 sq ft, 2 closets, window seat, etc. I think the problems some of you guys have has to do with who installed the system. The carpenter we had, supplied by the dealer, was a true craftsman.
on Nov 18, 2006
If you are considering finishing your basement with this system...DON'T. The sales tactics are shady to say the least. 3 days after we signed our contract the construction supervisor came out and that is when we found out what was REALLY going to happen. The ceiling height is going to be lower than we were told....being very tall adults this was important to us. We were assured not to worry by the sales man...not true. Well the story of surprises just goes on and on. So we contacted our Sales Rep and told him we were not moving forward with the deal because of issues not shared with us prior to signing the contract. The sales rep said "no problem" and told us the matter was resolved and our credit card would not be charged. Well surprise again....they charged our credit card any way and now we have a legal battle on our hands because they said we were past the 72 hour mark when we ended the deal. We would have ended it sooner if we would have known up front the problems we were going to face. Well just be warned there will be surprises for you not shared at the time of the sale. In my opinion this company does not play fair or honest. Stay away from them you will be sorry. You are paying TOP Premium dollar for this work and you will not get Top Premium service or honesty in return. You may as well go to the fly by night person...atleast you won;t be paying $50 a sq foot for the work.
on Nov 25, 2006
I live in the Coumbus area and had a simular experience with Owens Corning. Very rude and high pressure tactics were not appreciated and asked them to leave. I had an appointment with Champion two days later and my experience was much better, and quite a bit less expensive. Also, there are some benefits to the Champion product and installation that Owens Corning does not offer (insulation value, color choices, more lighting). Plus Champion is not a francise and they have been around for about 50 years
on Nov 29, 2006
Well, we signed the "contract" and we're paying about $41,000 to finish our 1,000 square foot basement. That was over a month ago. We've delayed them coming out for now. The thing is - I want out! I feel cheated and lied to.

They said the tradional basement costs about $60 per square foot to finish and theirs is only $40-45. Wow. What a bargain! And what an outrageous lie!

* Isn't that alone grounds for a law suit?
* Can't we who feel lied to and cheated do a class action law suit against these dishonest sales tactics?

I do NOT want this system installed and I do not want to pay the 25% penalty for canceling this project since I was lied to in the first place.

Any suggestions??

Thanks!
on Nov 29, 2006
I've been researching the Net on how to get out of this contract that I was manipulated into signing and found a web site that may help. It's called the RipOffReport and people can post complaints they have with companies on there. If enough people do this against Owens Corning's sales tactics, we can get retribution.

The only question is: Do we do this against Owens Corning directly - or against the individual companies from which we bough the system from? Seems to me like it should be Owens Corning because they all seem to use the same sales tactics, the same contracts, etc, etc.

Maybe we should start a report up for both of them? I don't know, but I'm going to do something today and because these sales tactics have to stop.

Here's where you can get more info: ripoffreport.com

Posting here on this blog isn't helping anything, but posting there WILL help!

PLEASE check it out so we can all work together.

Good luck for those of you who feel ripped off or want to try to get out of your contract, etc.





on Nov 29, 2006
Sadly, Wiseguy, I think you're screwed. There is a 3 day 'cooling-off' period, under which, you can get out of any contract that you've signed in your home. Other than that, there's nothing you can use to get out of a contract.

As far as lawsuits go, any promise that was made outside of the written contract is ignored by the courts. And by selling this product through independant dealers, OC is (mostly) immune to any suit regarding the sales tactics of independant dealers.
on Nov 29, 2006
Well, thanks for your opinion.

But isn't it odd that all the sales reps have the same sales presentation, forceful tactics, etc? I'm sure it all comes from Owens Corning, whether they're independent reps or not. They all use the same techniques. It's kinda like Amway/Quixtar reps are all "independent", but Amway can get still get into trouble for the reps bad sales techniques and the reps lying, etc.

Anyway, I'm still going to post it.

The local office for me is RembrandtRemodeling.com - the sole distributor for Owens Corning in Georgia, from what their web site says.

Either way, I'm fighting this and I think others should, too. Shady sales tactics and outright lies should not be tolerated. Why should I be held accountable for signing a contract under false pretenses?!?! That's just rediculous.

Of course, if they lower their price drastically for me, I'd probably go with them rather than cancel it, but their sales tactics need to stop.

And lastly, why don't they offer a straight price for everyone across the board instead of trying to get the most $$ out of everybody they can. That's just wrong, especially when they're lying about things in their presentation, scaring folks into ordering, pressuring them to make decisions right then and there - and then reaming folks with outrageoius prices that are totally uncalled for.

Well, see you at RipOffReport!

Wish me luck!
on Nov 30, 2006
I sincerely wish you good luck.

I have no doubt that the sales techniques ultimately come from OC, but the trouble that one runs into is that you'd have to somehow prove that they're trained to lie. And without coming into specific training materials or a memo from someone directing trainers to train to lie-- that is, a smoking gun, there'd be no way to prove that they're trained to lie. And I also have little doubt that no such materials or memo exists.

It is possible to prove a case without a smoking gun, such as using overwhelming anecdotal evidence (think Amway again), but as soon as OC puts a few happy customers on the stand, anything anecdotal will go out the window.

Again, good luck.
on Dec 07, 2006
Have you been ripped off by Owens Corning and their franchisers?

For those of you who feel cheated and/or you want what you feel to be unethical and deceitful sales tactics to end, please feel free to read and post here about Owen Cornings / Rembrandt Remodeling's deceitful sales tactics: www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff222958.htm

Your comments on their sales tactics will do much more good there than here, but don't stop posting here either. It's just more "official" at the RipOffReport site, action can be taken against the company - even class action lawsuits, etc.

Please come visit and offer your support against these types of sales tactics:
www.ripoffreport.com/reports/ripoff222958.htm