Penguin Basements

Basement Renovation
906 Magnetic Drive Toronto ON M3J 2C4
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Reviews for Penguin Basements

Average customer rating:
8.9 10 (219 reviews)

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Iffat in Toronto
Iffat in Toronto
1 review Toronto, ON
9/10

Kitchen Renovation and Floor Tiles

For the most part, I'm really happy with the work that was done, and the project manager made sure all of the work was done accurately and correctly. The reason I didn't give 5 stars for overall satisfaction is because there were delays in getting my kitchen cabinets.

My kitchen looks great, I love it.

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Jose
Jose
1 review Vaughan, ON
7/10

Great, fast basement reno that had a couple of bad situations

I know it's been over 8 months since the basement was finished but life and work have been so busy that it's challenging to find time to just sit down and do things like a full review. Overall we were satisfied with the completion of the job and I'd likely recommend Penguin Basements to other people but there were some interesting learnings just like many big home renos often have.

To start, definitely take your time when choosing a company to do your reno and don't fall for any kind of "sign today or else I can't guarantee the price later" kind of things. Also, make sure you are completely happy with the design of your basement. We have the tiniest regret with the placement for a couple of things and wish we had had a bit more time to think our layout through but we're still enjoying the finished product.

I think the biggest let down from the whole reno was actually the sales portion. Sales rep started off great but things sort of turned sour between us and him mid way through the project. One of the things that we didn't like about the sales portion was the initial consult. It was supposed to be three hours and you would go through a few design iterations using their tool on an iPad but our rep was in our home for about 5 hours! And we really only got one design where we moved an island back and forth and not two or three different ones like their website seems to imply. When the pricing was worked out, we did think it was a bit above our initial budget but then we always seem to budget lower than what reality is. The rep mentioned that they have a program where after the project is completed, you allow them to showcase your basement for a Saturday and you save $10K of the project cost. They also furnish it or whatever for the day in case you don't have any furniture yet. Our area was apparently very targeted for doing renos so they really wanted to have a showcase for the area. Seems like a no brainer or a sales pitch. Thinking back now it was likely more of a sales tactic because we asked to think about it until Monday and he said he could only do it today. He even gave us 15 min to think on it for signing there and then. We signed even though they weren't the cheapest quote. We did like hearing afterwards that a couple of others we know used the company and seemed happy with them.

A day or so later we were contemplating the design because we didn't think we had come up with the best solution for the whole space. We tried contacting the rep about making changes and the price difference but he never returned our calls. Tried contacting the head office and after many tries they eventually got him to return our call. The issue was that we were still within our 10 day grace period to cancel everything and we had hoped that it wasn't being done on purpose so that we would be stuck with either proceeding with the project or losing our deposit. The rep said that we could do our changes when we do the initial walk through with the demo crew the following week so we were stuck waiting.

When we met with the demo crew and PM, we did our walk through and discussed making some changes including moving a bathroom from the original design. It worked out in the end and we agreed on the new design and that we would get to approve the cost differential shortly that week. Well, it took over two weeks of not knowing how much it would cost. Meanwhile, the demo would start and things would be underway. We didn't like not knowing how much more we were on the hook for other than "it shouldn't be more than about $6K" that the rep said that day. Eventually we did get the new additional pricing and of course it was way more than what we were told, a little more than double. We brought this up with the rep and he was able to reduce it to be closer to what he told us but we were still over by about $1K-$2K. Not good and we still had options and upgrades to pick out. I also had to confront our sales rep on the type of wall insulation being used as we were told that the product was of a particular name brand but what was being installed was certainly not it. The fact that the team installing it also claimed that it was that name brand also didn't help and was a flat out deception to the customer which I also pointed out.

That was really the last that we dealt with our sales rep until construction started. The demo, the drawing of the lines and initial construction started and went fairly well. Demo took a day and a half but was also because they worked to about 9:30PM the first night until I had to tell them to go home because it was very late and kids had school. The same guys that did the demo also did the insulation and luckily I caught a small mistake on their part when they covered up a stove receptacle! The site super had to get them to cut a hole around it but that's what happens when you rush through. The crews they had coming and going were really fast and mostly did a great job. If I recall correctly, framing was done within a day or two. The only thing I wasn't a fan of was that due to how much they framed away from the wall and insulation, we lost quite a bit of square footage. Not sure if this is the norm with basements but thought I'd point it out.

It was really great working with our site supervisor (Vince) who acted as someone who genuinely cares about the customer and wants to do the best for them. It's great seeing some of these other reviews and him being pointed out which goes to show how great he is. He was someone we could always call and bounce ideas or concerns off and always had our best intentions at heart. I will also point out that when our cabinetry for the kitchen area was delivered, it was scuffed up to the point where you could easily see it. Vince was on it and arranged for us to be compensated and even fixed it up by himself so that you couldn't even tell that it had any damaged before. Vince also was great when we discovered that the fridge would not fit correctly in the area we had chosen. He single handedly moved the whole counter and uppers and fixed up everything beautifully.

The crews were your general trades people with some who are contracted out by Penguin and others who might actually work for Penguin. The site supervisors certainly do work for them. This was another thing we were sort of misled on by our initial sales consult. The rep made it a point to say that they don't hire just any guy working out of the back of his truck and that all of the workers are Penguin employees. I would strongly disagree with this statement. I saw some crews that were definitely contracted out as some told me flat out they were. There were even a couple of guys that were so new and barely skilled enough working in the basement at some points. In fact, one person that was doing the door trims did such a horrible job that I had to have the site supervisor come in and see the bad workmanship and get the crew to redo it. Apparently the guy that was doing the work was someone new who the site supervisor had never dealt with before so he was not happy about finding that out. There were a few times I had to point out some mistakes in the workmanship and it seemed to always be with the one same crew. How do you mix up door handles between six doors in one basement? Others appeared to be employed by Penguin as they seemed to drive their vehicles and only did jobs that were from Penguin orders. Again, don't tell potential customers that everyone is a Penguin employee when they in fact are not. For the most part, the trades treated our home with respect and didn't leave too much of a mess. Vince even had them lay down a taped cardboard path from the basement door on the main floor to the powder room so that they wouldn't mess up the area.

I want to point out that this company works with itemising everything that they do. The initial quote had almost every little thing itemised and how much it costs and such. Extras or changes are communicated to your PM or site supervisor and then both you and the company have to sign off on them. This also includes the consultation to pick your options like bathroom vanity, tiles and shower. BTW, be prepared to spend a little more than the quote as the quote is only for the base items. A lot of times you will not like the base and will want to upgrade which means more money. We probably spent an extra $5K in upgrades alone. It's a great concept but at the same time it can also be a little like nickel and diming you for every little thing. You never know when something you want done is being done as part of the quote or if it's an extra and you have to pay for it. Again it's the first time experiencing a company that does this so I'm not completely knocking it down but just pointing it out. It technically should weed out all those tiny little extras that people always ask for during a reno. There are a few sign offs that need to be done throughout the project which is good as it keeps everyone on a level playing field. If you're not happy with something at that stage, then you don't sign off. There's also an interesting form/contract you have to sign just prior to the construction commencing. This is the one mentioned on here before about providing a bathroom, access to the home, etc. The bathroom one was funny because they told me that they added it in because on one project, the homeowner only provided a bucket for the trades to relieve themselves! Some people...

Eventually we got to a problem we had with our sales rep when it came time to do the cabling (tv, ethernet, etc). We don't know why but during the initial quote, only a single run was quoted and shown itemised for RG6 & CAT6 cabling. He said that once it came time to run the cables, just let the guys know how many you need and they'll do it. Seemed like it was just a single cost item regardless of the numbers. We were very wrong about that even through I'd brought it up a couple of times of many many drops I would need. They wanted to charge per run and I needed over a dozen runs when all was said and done. They expected over $1200 just for cabling which we had not agreed to and this was something that I was willing to do myself if they couldn't work it out. The sales rep didn't like that because it would delay the project and in the end, he gave in and just ate the cost of doing the work. The relationship basically soured at that point after a heated conversation but this is the problem with perhaps rushing a quote too fast and not fully explaining things to a customer on how charges would stack up. Felt bad for the crew as they were kind of stuck in the middle of an argument between the customer and sales. Tried to make it up to them by buying them case of beer later on.

With regards to the showcasing of the basement, it never happened. While we ourselves did go out to a showcase basement one weekend to check out the company's work, it was nowhere near what we expected. The basement still had some unfinished trim and walls that should have been tidied up. There were no furnishings to fluff the place up either. We saw some minor defects and were left wondering why they would showcase it? It was not worth the 40+ minutes to drive out there. I made sure to tell our site supervisor about that experience and that we hoped we wouldn't see something similar with our basement. As for our basement, I'm guessing that we were never offered a showcase date likely because we had had the falling out with our sales rep. At least I hope that's the reason and it wasn't just a sales ploy to get the sale. Kind of thankful for that in a way as I didn't want to have strangers going through our home.

One cool thing that the company does is that it uses a website and an app (Buildertrend) to keep you up to date on the project and for communicating with your team. It worked out mostly well for us and wished more companies used a similar method. The one negative I will point out is that after the initial demo pictures to show proof of work, there were never any additional pictures loaded to the site. But every other communication, design, quotes and approvals/rejections were there. Payment and trades schedules were also shown on a calendar and were mostly accurate.

With regards to your team, I will say that at first it was a little disorienting in knowing who you were supposed to be talking with. We had something like half a dozen different individuals to communicate with and I have no idea why that many were needed. There was an initial demo supervisor, then the project coordinator, the site supervisors, the design consultant (that one is ok) and your sales rep. Seems like a bit much and I was told towards the tail end of our work that the company was planning on restructuring this which is a good sign.

In the end, the basement did end up turning out beautiful, was somewhat just over our budget and the work was completed in record time. Four months from start to finish and it was technically late because the cabinetry was late. I use the basement every single day as part of my office and this past winter we had no problems with being down there as it was as warm as any typical basement that's been properly finished. Despite some sour points (sales rep, rushed design layout and some workmanship issues) we think that Penguin Basements should be given your consideration. But as the homeowner always keep an eye on the work and try and get a guy like Vince on your team. Personally, I would reach out to Penguin as one of your last quotes after you have an idea of what you want and roughly how much the project is likely to cost you so that you can see how much higher there's is and if it's worth it.

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Company Response

Jose, Thank you for taking the time to write out such a detailed review, and even if it was 8 months later, it's better than never, right? We are constantly evolving every aspect of our company based on client feedback, and that even includes the sales process so rest assured your concerns outline here will be a part of our next weekly sales meeting. As for the showcase discount, it is very real. We do try to oversubscribe in some areas however because we need to be able to select from more than one prospect to schedule ongoing open houses as we would love to host one at our clients' homes pretty much each and every weekend. So sometimes a client may get lucky, get the discount and not have to put up with us invading their home. You can visit this page on our website (https://www.basementscanada.com/events/) to see when and where the next open house is scheduled. We also list them on the "events" tab of our facebook page. Frankly, we find these open houses to be a better marketing tool than home shows, and more honest than many of the completed jobs you will see on competitors websites. As for some other things you mention, you'll be happy to know we have streamlined the process since your build and now one person is assigned to the client as a point of contact throughout the build. This was the plan for sometime but we had to make sure the right people were in place to handle the build at every stage. As you know, in the past we had experts on each phase of the project as the touch point, but as you noted it could be confusing, so again listening to feedback that was changed. You'll see in some of the other recent reviews, that this is working very well. We will print off this review and go through it point by point internally department by department. We are committed to being the leader in the basement renovation space, and know that in order to maintain this position we must always be evolving. We are glad you are happy with the finished product and the speed of the build. Enjoy your basement.

BarryG in Barrie
BarryG in Barrie
1 review Barrie, ON
10/10

Basement renovation

From the start, we found Penguin quite professional. We started with a discussion of what we were using the room for as opposed to what we wanted to do with it.

From there, we received a detailed spec of what we were looking for including dimensions, new walls, doors, wet bar etc. From there it was a fairly easy process to get to a price - some haggling back and forth but in the end it was fair.

Once we settled on a price, it was on to design. Perhaps unlike others, I was happy to not have hundreds of choices of flooring, doors, lighting, counters, finished etc. We had an idea of color tone and were more than happy with what we selected.

The work started and finished within 3 weeks with the final week being just in and out with touch ups and minor items.

We had 2 change orders which were minor and the result of us making a decision- there was definitely no upsell going on with Penguin. The price we agreed upon was the price we paid.

The result was spectacular - a complete transformation from an unfinished basement to a secondary living space. It looks great!

Can’t say enough good things about Josh our project manager. Always responsive and willing to give advice about anything we asked.

Penguin’s quote was definitely the highest but I feel like other quotes would have got us to about the same price with all he extras and add-one. I liked the fact that we had a price and time-line and it was met. When we asked for minor items to be looked at - it was no problem whatsoever. There was no attempt to get out of finishing the job.

I am fan of their service and would recommend them to others.

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Company Response

Hi BarryG, Thank you for taking the time to write a detailed review. We appreciate it when people appreciate the work we put in enough to write about their positive experiences. And we'll be happy to share your kind words with Josh. As noted, we may not always be the cheapest, but we believe we deliver fair value especially when considering a second suite. We have seen far too many corners cut by others where safety is an issue. Enjoy the benefits of the new basement!

Private User
Private User
Private User reviews Mississauga, ON
10/10

Finish Basement

Penguin Basement delivered on quality of the work and the promise time of 3 weeks completion was kept. They were professional and easy to work with. The project manager Fabio took it personal to ensure customer satisfaction. The architectural and technical planning was collaborative and each we were kept up to date as the land unfolded. It is important for anyone using this company to do your own research on prices as they are a bit pricey. Overall they worked well and on schedule.

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Company Response

Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to post a review. We appreciate it, and hope you get many years of enjoyment from the project. We will share your review with Fabio too!

Rob
Rob
1 review Toronto, ON
8/10

2000 Sq Ft Basement Build Out

I contracted with Penguin Basements for a total basement build out of approximately 2,000 square feet. Penguin really went above and beyond my expectations and it was a pleasure to work with the Penguin team. Ranging from Rick who helped us with our initial consultation and costs, Eric who showed incredible patience in guiding my wife and I with our design, Angelo who coordinated the start or construction and Fabio who managed the project from beginning to end the project was completed within budget. Penguin also managed the permit processes on my behalf as well!

Penguin's tradespeople are excellent, courteous and treated my home with respect. With a high attention to detail and great workmanship, I am very satisfied with the project's outcome. The project was completed in January 2019 and we are fully enjoying every aspect of our newly built basement.

Keep in mind that projects of this size are very complex, and the challenge is managing the multiple trades and issues that occur during construction. I can tell you that the Penguin team handled those challenges by communicating with me immediately to come to a resolution. When something went wrong, they were very quick in making it right. Penguin was also very flexible as well when we made minor modifications during the project.

Penguin Basements are not be the cheapest contractor in the market, but you really do get what you pay for, and if you wish to complete your basement with a minimal amount of headache with a great end result then I highly recommend them.

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Company Response

Rob, thanks for the review. We appreciate it. Seems your are more informed than the average homeowner based on your expectations and observations, and tough score ;-) We're happy we were able to minimize typical renovation headaches (Oh, if only we could eliminate all of them.), and to hear your are happy with the finished product. We appreciate the recommendation, and hope that you get many years of satisfaction from your basement.

Lori in Toronto
Lori in Toronto
1 review Barrie, ON
10/10

Basement

We had several quotes. Penguin's was by far not the cheapest, and they weren't available the fastest, but we were impressed by their philosophy, materials and their expertise when it comes to basements. They quoted a project timeline which I found difficult to believe but based on reviews was hopeful that it could be accomplished.

Well, it was! They started early as they had time become available, and finished on time! All the people coming in and out of our home were very pleasant and respectful of the fact that it was our home and were a pleasure to deal with. Everyone from the initial appointment, to contact with the office and design was fantastic.

Josh, our project manager, was amazing. He responded to each of our (sometimes trivial) concerns promptly. There were a few things that weren't ordered (doors and paint etc.) that were chosen in design, but he was very quick to remedy any problems and gets extra points for winning over our dog who by the end barked at us but not him when coming in the front door.

The only thing I might mention is delivery material was sometimes very unorganized (for ex. I got an hour's notice that the drywall was being delivered, however thankfully was home), but in this grand scheme of things this is an extremely minor issue.

We love our new basement! Correction: our son and his friends love our new basement - we can't get them out of it!

Thanks Josh and Penguin!

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Company Response

Hi Lori, and thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to post a review. We do appreciate it. You did touch on one of the fundamental changes we made to our business this past year, and that's the importance of scheduling. We have found that by slotting in a job to a specific date and build schedule we are able to provide better service to our clients, and manage the communication among our team members more effectively. So, yes, depending on the time of year we may not be able to get to a build right away, but we'd rather build the right way. Enjoy your basement!

Terry a.
Terry a.
1 review Markham, ON
10/10

Finish basement

Penguin Basements were an absolute pleasure to deal with from the start to the end of our project. The level of professionalism, experience and expertise of staff from the sales manager to project manager to designer and all trades involved is compared to none. Our project was completed in a timely manner and with such ease beyond belief. Special shout out to Rob our project manager who was such a delight always cool and ensured everything was done to our abosolute satisfaction. Your company will continue to climb to great heights. Our heartfelt thanks to the entire team for everything!!!

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Company Response

And our heartfelt thanks to you Terry. We especially appreciate it when a happy client takes time out of their busy day to write some kind words about our people. It was a pleasure working with you. Enjoy the basement.

Gail
Gail
1 review Grimsby, ON
9/10

Good job and service

The project ran smoothly from start to finish. There were a few things that were missed during the planning process. Fortunately our Site Manager, Walter, recognized the oversights and ensured everything was done to our satisfaction. Overall the trades did a good job. Walter finished the final details and did an excellent job. He was pleasant, professional and very responsive to our questions throughout the process. The project was well done, completed on time and within budget.

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Company Response

Thanks for taking the time to post a review and share your experiences Gail. We use the feedback from our clients to continually examine what we do and to look for ways to get even better. We'll pass your kind words onto Walter too. Enjoy the basement.

ewoycik
ewoycik
1 review Toronto, ON
10/10

Basement renovation

We have been very impressed with the Penguin Basements team - right from the first appointment, to scheduling with the office staff, through meeting with the designer, and especially working with Alan, the project manager. We felt confident that Penguin knew what they were doing when they first talked to us about the materials they use, their approach to the work, and understanding what we really wanted and making it a reality without up-selling us. We had been thinking about a basement renovation for a long time but the idea of having to find and coordinate all the trades ourselves was putting us off. By hiring Penguin, we had a dedicated project manager who ordered all supplies and scheduled all the trades. It was great to have one point person, and Alan was very good at explaining each step of the project and answering all our questions. We are very happy with the final project. Alan went above and beyond with little touches here are there to really finish off the whole space.

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Company Response

Ewoycik, thank you for talking the time to write a review. We really appreciate it. We'll be sure to share your kind words with Alan and the rest of the Penguin team. It's this kind of feedback that inspires us to to always keep finding ways to get better and better. Enjoy your basement.

Brad
Brad
1 review Toronto, ON
8/10

Basement reno

It was a great experience from their initial guidance in design to the final project. Biggest pros - quality of work and accountability. The builder trend app is fantastic. It was an aggressive schedule but they delivered. And our project lead Alan was exceptional.

Cons - there were a few disconnects early with the demo phase. And the work comes at a significant premium, so the benefits (quick completion, accountability, quality) need to be worth it. For us they were.

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Company Response

Thanks for taking time to write a review Brad. We not only appreciate it, but we take it all into consideration as we continually evolve the company to better serve our growing customer base. Enjoy the basement.

The reviews on this page are the subjective opinion of the Author and not of HomeStars Inc.

More about Penguin Basements

Penguin Basements is your full-service Basement Renovation Company.

Nothing beats a finished basement as a cost-effective way to add living space or rental income to your home in the Greater Toronto Region. Whether you need design, permits or a stunning build, be sure to call the Renomark certified contractor Penguin for a Free Estimate today.

You'll find hundreds of our satisfied customers all across Southern Ontario in the GTA, the Tri-Cities Area and the Greater Ottawa Area. Our experienced, trained professionals make it easy for Penguin Basements to stand behind every job we do. So, If there's a basement renovation in your future, contact Penguin Basements today, where 100% total satisfaction is guaranteed! Don't get scammed by fly-by-night operators, unrealistically low prices, too short build times or fake reviews. We invite you to visit us in person anytime.

• Guaranteed Mold-Resistant Materials
• FREE In-Home Design & Estimate
• Easy Financing Available
• No Interest for 12 Months*
• Transferable Limited Lifetime Material Warranty
• 2-Year Comprehensive Warranty

Be sure to check our one of our Basement Showcase Open House weekends where you can inspect our work up close and in person!

CATEGORIES
Basement Renovation
SERVICES
Basement renovations, basement waterproofing, foundation repair, crawl space encapsulation.
BRANDS
Penguin Family of Companies Penguin Basements Penguin Kitchens Penguin Condo & Reno
SPECIALITIES
Custom basement builds within your budget.
WEBSITE
http://www.basementscanada.com
YEAR ESTABLISHED
2011
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES
120
MEMBERSHIPS
BILD, RENOMARK
LIABILITY INSURANCE
Yes
WORKERS COMPENSATION
Yes
BONDED
Yes
WRITTEN CONTRACT
Yes
WARRANTY TERMS
2-Year plus Limited Lifetime Material Warranty
Company profile information is not moderated by HomeStars. Ask the contractor to verify before hiring.