Penguin Basements

Basement Renovation
906 Magnetic Drive Toronto ON M3J 2C4
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89%

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Reviews for Penguin Basements

Average customer rating:
9 10 (195 reviews)

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Alex C in Kitchener
Alex C in Kitchener
0 reviews Kitchener, ON
3/10

Efficiency doesn't mean anything if you need to do it again.

Let's break down my rating - unfortunately HomeStars aggregates the score for "How satisfied are you with this company" and "How likely are you to recommend this company" together. We would rate them 3/5 stars and 0/5 stars for the respective categories.

We will detail our experience below, which I have adapted from a letter originally addressed to Penguin Basements (a.k.a. Penguin Renos a.k.a. Penguin Kitchens) (dated August 28, 2018) - you can refer to the photos/tables attached to see the types of issues we encountered. If you want the short verdict, see the "BOTTOM LINE" at the end of this review.

Our family decided to finish our basement because we wanted to be able to accommodate our growing family; we decided to go through a contractor as it would save time (note, the project started and "finished" within 2 weeks starting July 3rd, but deficiencies were not completed to our satisfaction until October 16th, 2018). Our initial meeting was in May 2018. We were impressed by the professional sales presentation, complete with demo of construction material samples. Despite a higher estimate for the project (i.e., approx. 500 sq. ft open area + 3 piece bath), we felt that our commitment to have the basement showcased would be reassurance of Penguin's pride in experience, quality and workmanship.

We encountered several issues along the way, many of which I had to address (on my own time, on my own dime). I ended up acquiring the necessary equipment and materials and rushing to adjust the HVAC (if the HVAC return/supplies were not easily/conveniently adjusted, Penguin proposed to delete them, even though it was explicitly indicated to us that those adjustments would be included). It was to my surprise that Penguin did not have any experience (nor provide the recommendation) to switch out a round to an oval supply so that there would not be a "jog" in the wall.

We also had various framing issues (most notably, a twisted column that Penguin tried to have us sign off on as "complete"), some issues of which were rather reluctantly addressed after much back-and-forth. When we mentioned the various issues to Penguin, the response we got from them was along the lines of “you won’t notice the imperfections once there’s furniture!”. We also had various electrical placement issues, some of which I had to address myself (otherwise it was indicated to me that we would be charged for a change order to get the electrician back even though it was recognized that the electrical was not placed correctly). After I addressed these issues myself, Penguin's overwhelming commentary was "it just tests how handy you are"! There were other issues that I pointed out (cracked grout in shower along the edges - which should be caulked with silicone as per standard practice, but when I pointed this out, my concerns were initially dismissed. What I don't understand is why I am having to spend my personal time and energy on fixing things that I have already paid for!

Penguin aspires/prides itself on doing its projects efficiently. However, it does so sometimes at the expense of brushing off client concerns. At one point we were aggressively put on the spot to make a last minute decision about choosing between two shower bases - both of which were not agreed upon at the Design Selection meeting. “Efficiency” in and of itself is never an excuse for poor customer service – these cases are made worse when the homeowner is pointing out problems that could potentially save the contractor significant time and effort from returning to the site to rectify problems.

The 3/5 satisfaction rating reflects the fact that they came back to do a decent job of addressing the majority of the deficiencies - but it took them over 3 months to come around to come to terms with them and to address them! It wasn't until I wrote an extensive letter at the end of August, complete with photos, for Penguin to take us seriously about addressing the issues. For the significant cost associated with this project (and the time/money I ended up spending to DIY), we cannot say we are completely satisfied with the money we spent - hence we would not recommend Penguin Basements (hence 0/5 recommendation rating) unless they address their customer service/workmanship issues (and an over-reliance on the customer to do-it-myself)! That being said, all Penguin staff were friendly and efficient - but it should never come at the cost of workmanship and customer service.

We have requested to speak to Mr. Guy Solomon (President) in our August 28th letter, but to date (October 19th) we have not heard from him. We are "satisfied" in the sense that they came back to fix things, but it shouldn't have come to the point where we had to write an extensive letter to convince Penguin that the job wasn't finished to our satisfaction.

As an aside, Penguin has recently indicated that they will be taking photos of our finished basement (which we have agreed to) rather than conducting the agreed-upon showcase.

BOTTOM LINE: If I had more free time, I would have been much more satisfied trying to get the basement done myself while contacting additional subcontractors for tasks for which I had less experience and/or did not have the equipment to complete. Of course, this is coming from someone that Penguin representatives have identified as "handy".

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UPDATE October 22, 2018
Reply to company response:

Let's clarify the facts: my spouse did not sign off on everything on the substantial completion list on August 3rd. This was because the fix applied to the twisted column was simply unacceptable and therefore, she intentionally did not sign off on it. Surprisingly, we received a call from the site supervisor the next day, telling us that our last cheque was to be deposited because the job was 100% complete.

We understand things go wrong/ not according to plan during construction projects - being in Civil & Environmental Engineering, I know this is the norm rather than the exception. Rather than aggressively forcing us into an immediate decision (like with the shower base the morning it needed to be installed when it was not our fault that different ones were delivered), things could be handled a little differently. (Telling us the morning after that our last cheque was to be deposited and the project was complete when we did NOT sign off on everything also really irked us....as is the case with you indicating to us that we signed off on everything, which is categorically NOT true!). All we're trying to say is, schedule extra time and do it well the first time! And if things need to be fixed, don't try to get us to sign off on something (which we didn't) that is less than what you hold your standards to be. Admit the issue up front, and takes steps to address it - no if's, or's, and's and but's!

Electrical: As we indicated in our table (and in the letter that we hope Guy has read), the site supervisor AGREED with us that the pot lights were not installed as per our instruction ("centred and evenly spaced"). We requested Penguin to rectify the locations BEFORE the drywall went up. This change in electrical location was NOT because of us changing our minds.

The jovial rapport is fine - just not at the point in time that the comments were made about using furniture to hide things when Penguin hasn't come to terms with the fact that the twisted column was unacceptable. Also, under the circumstances where electrical/HVAC needed to be adjusted, we had no "personal choice" but to DIY because otherwise we were told that multiple change orders would be added. In other words, if we didn't DIY, we would've had to pay twice to get it done right once!

Speaking of the outstanding balance, a colleague at Penguin received my payment information and should have already processed the payment earlier this afternoon. The only thing that was not accounted for is my time/materials spent on making the various adjustments and touch-ups, and drafting that extensive letter to Guy that finally convinced Penguin that the column (amongst other half-fixes) was unacceptable. For example, it was never made clear whether or not we would be reimbursed for HVAC materials to make the adjustment (an offer was never made at least as a courtesy); but then again, we also never agreed upon an hourly rate to charge for a handy engineer.

We look forward to hearing from Guy. A written response would be much appreciated.

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Company Response

Thank for taking the time to post a review. And although you posted as a Private User, we do know which project this is as it’s not yet closed in our books.

First up, to clarify. While we did indeed launch Penguin Condo-Reno and Penguin Kitchens this year in response to client requests, they are very different projects with their own dedicated teams. That aside, let's examine this build.

You indicated in your review that deficiencies were not completed until October 16. Originally however during the Substantial Completion walk-through to identify and address any build defences on August 3rd, all work was signed off. Now we know you weren’t happy with your spouse signing off this paper, but you must understand by doing so, resources were allocated elsewhere before you let us know differently. So things like the twisted column, while something we both agreed needed to be replaced, was not going to happen the next day.

As for issues you addressed on your own time and your own dime, that came down to personal choice, and you were reimbursed via account credit for the $11.27 for the white silicon, and $7.66 for the wall plate cover. Is there anything else we should be aware of? Please note it in you buildertrend account and supply a receipt, if so.

As you noted, there were some issues along the way, and that is unfortunately a possibility with any construction build as there are things that can only be known once a tear-down and build is undertaken. As we build more basements that anyone in the GTA, we’d like to think we’ve seen them all, but even we can be surprised from time-to-time. But as you, yourself noted, they were all addressed to your satisfaction by October 16. This was in spite of money still being owed on the project, as we work with our clients in good faith as they do with us.

You do have us on HVAC though, as until you brought it to our attention we did not know about that specific space saving unit. You can see where we got the idea you were handy ;-)

Finally we’d like to address the comment on electrical as we aren’t sure how this happened, as we insist our clients do a walk-through with the electrician to note where things like outlets are needed and where they can or cannot go. The reason a change order would have applied therefore is that such changes were not requested at that time. Often a client will have a change of mind, and while we will accommodate that, that will result in a modest up-charge.

As for the comments on hiding things behind furniture, or you being a a handyman that came about from the jovial rapport you had built up with out staff when you told them about your engineering background and started suppling your own charts and such, and were meant in jest to someone we though would take it that way. Lesson learned. At no point did we expect you to do the work we were paid to do. And speaking of that, there’s still the matter of an outstanding balance.

Guy generally does not get involved mid-project as it’s a case of too many chefs at the table, and he was on vacation recently, but rest assured he will be reaching out to you directly. Every project from the perfect 10, to yes, sadly a 3 is an opportunity to learn and improve our business and the customer experience.

Jean and Andrea in North York
Jean and Andrea in North York
1 review Toronto, ON
10/10

Basement upgrade

From a cluttered 1200 sq feet of wasted space to a newly found oasis, Penguin Basements applied their talent, savoir faire, dedication, and professionalism to create a space like no other.

We told them about our wishes, with sprinkles of uniqueness and peculiar tastes, and they delivered * exactly * what we asked for.

The shifting plans with the addition of custom stairs and a custom sauna didn't phase them. Hats off to them!

To the entire team, Amy, Jon, Chris, Robert, Rick, and all the others who worked behind the scene, thank you!

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Company Response

Thanks for the lovely review Jean and Andrea. We have shared your post with the team, as you will undoubtably have made their day. Enjoy the basement!

Stacy in Toronto
Stacy in Toronto
1 review Georgina, ON
10/10

Basement Renovation

Pengiun did a nice job with our basement finishing. A new 3 piece bathroom, office and family space. They were quick to fix any issues that came up and we were very happy with the whole project!

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Company Response

We're happy that we made you happy Stacy. Enjoy the basement!

Thelma
Thelma
1 review Hamilton, ON
10/10

We finished our unfinished basement, in a three year old home.

We had an excellent experience. Fabio, our site supervisor, was just wonderful and helpful. The trades always worked quietly, unobtrusively and their job was always clean. It was very quick, start to finish three weeks. There was always something happening and it was very well coordinated. Our basement looks beautiful. Thank you very much. I would definitely recommend you.

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Company Response

Thank you for taking time to post a review, we appreciate it. Enjoy your beautiful basement!

Amanda
Amanda
1 review Oshawa, ON
10/10

Full Basement Finishing

Penquin Basements was an absolutely fantastic company for our complete basement finishing. The entire process from very first consultation onsite to the last day onsite with their crews was a showcase for their professionalism, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.

Our project manager provided a well laid out timeline, budgets and expectations very early in the process and we were not only done on time, it was done exactly on budget. Penquin transformed our concrete slab into an impressive, functional, and well built space for our family.

We would highly recommend Penquin to anyone looking to finish their basement.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

Thank you kindly for the glowing review Amanda. We wish you all the best — enjoy the basement!

Private User
Private User
Private User reviews Toronto, ON
0/10

Basement

Horrible customer service, horrible workmanship. I now have to spend thousands of dollars to repair their mickey mouse job cause they wouldn't do it. They charged me more than double than any other contractor. They are great at selling basements, will make you believe you're about to get high quality execution and that its worth the extra buck. well, that wasn't the case here. They work on volume. building hundreds of basements every year (according to them), using a lot of different subcontractors that don't really care about workmanship. therefor the end result was really bad. We feel we were totally misled. will never recommend them to anyone.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

We appreciate every review as an opportunity to either share a great customer experience or an opportunity to learn and grow. As part of all of our projects, we encourage our clients to use the warranty tab on builder-trend, If there are any items that you feel require service after substantial completion and final occupancy. Our site supervisors review every project near it's completion with our homeowners to ensure that both the client and our supers identify any areas that require a remedy and ensure that all items are complete. We are currently reviewing all of our recent projects to understand which project this could be. Please feel free to email info@basementscanada.com directly so we can address any ongoing concerns.

Thank you!

MARVIE
MARVIE
1 review Toronto, ON
10/10

Basement Renovation

Deciding to have your basement finished is a major undertaking and a significant investment. We visited a couple of home shows earlier this year, spoke to numerous contractors and had several come out to our house to assess the basement and provide an estimate. After speaking to some of them, we were so turned off that we were considering not finishing the basement at all. Some contractors were very glib with their estimates or the need to have the work inspected. Some companies were not full service and were unwilling to deliver what we requested while others were just not willing to provide the details that we wanted in the estimate.

We did however decide to move ahead with Penguin after having Rick come out and spend several hours with us going over a detailed plan and line by line estimate. In the end, we couldn’t be more pleased with our decision to select Penguin!

Penguin was very accommodating to the design changes we made along the way and seemed genuinely interested in helping us to complete the basement exactly the way we wanted. They literally took care of everything from the design, permits, supplies, construction and even cleanup. The various crews that came in were all competent, courteous, professional and accommodating. Not everything went perfectly (we felt a little rushed during the Selection process) and we were quite concerned when our site manager left the company two days into the construction. But it is at these times (when the unexpected occurs) that a you see the true colours of a company. When our site manager left, Greg stepped in to take over and reassure us that there would be no impact. We can honestly say that Greg went above and beyond to ensure that everything went smoothly and they were able to stay on schedule. Greg went out of his way to address any little issues that came up and to help complete the basement project on schedule and to help get all the little details completed exactly as we wanted.

We are extremely satisfied with the quality of the work, and impressed with the efficiency of the whole process.

Penguin’s estimate was not the lowest, but in the end we are quite happy with our decision and the peace of mind that came with opting to go with Penguin.

We highly recommend this company.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

We appreciate the detailed review. At Penguin we are committed to retaining staff that are truly dedicated to delivering our customers the basement they want. As you noted, not everything in a renovation runs smoothly (Oh, how we wish.), but we try our best to be accomodating and always on the look out for solutions. And we believe, thanks to reviews other have posted over the years, that we get better as a company with each and every job. And we will always strive to do so. Enjoy your basement.

B Pauser from Whitby
B Pauser from Whitby
2 reviews Whitby, ON
10/10

Basement Renovation

We just had our basement finished by Penguin Basements. We are so happy with how the renovation turned out. We had no worries about anything, the supervisors Vince and Andreas were amazing. They communicated with us throughout the renovation and were so friendly and helpful. All the trades that came in were very professional and respectful of our home. Oscar the painter and his wife did a fantastic job. We would also like to thank Eric who helped us with our colours and selections. We would recommend Penguin Basements to anyone who is thinking of renovating their basement.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

Thank you for taking the time to post a positive review. In spite of building 300 basements a year, It sometimes seems like only a small percentage end up posting a review, so we are very appreciative of those happy customers who take the time to post about their experience. We hope you enjoy the basement for many years to come.

Michael in Richmond Hill
Michael in Richmond Hill
1 review Whitby, ON
10/10

Great Basement Reno

We were highly satisfied with the entire reno process, from beginning to end. The Penguin team exhibited great customer service, and were communicative and responsive throughout. Project was completed within 3 weeks and was as per the budget that had been established. The various trades were attentive and professional. A special thanks to Marlon our designated Site Supervisor who took great care in assuring that all of our expectations were met, and who was very diligent and a source of calm while the work was being undertaken.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

Thanks for the review Michael. We'll make sure Marlon see's this. It's always nice to see members of our team recognized for their hardworking and passion.

anna.16
anna.16
1 review Vaughan, ON
5/10

Basement Renovation

The final product was excellent. We are very happy with how our basement looks. The process to get there, however, was a nightmare. Communication between the team and the client needs some major work. We had a long list of issues just on the second day of construction and when contacting the company no one responded to the e-mail that was sent. We finally had some issues resolved but it took awhile. Also, we had to give up on a few things we were promised before construction began.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
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Company Response

Sorry for the delayed response Anna. As you can imagine this review led to several meetings internally to discuss where the current changes to our internal communication system may fall down. We will be encouraging customers to thoroughly read their contract before work begins to ensure everything discussed, is in fact, included in the scope of work. And we are seriously looking at ways to simplify, what is a very complicated process, by assigning as few senior people as possible to shepherd the project through the various stages to completion while managing communication. (pic.twitter.com/B1JEdNw11K) For every person added to a project, you add a myriad of possible communication paths, and as a renovation job can involve far, far more people than that... well you get the picture. We appreciate the honest review, and hope you enjoy your basement for many more years to come.

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, let us help you unlock the value buried beneath your home today.

You'll find hundreds of our satisfied customers all across Southern Ontario. 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!

• Guaranteed Mold-Free Materials
• FREE In-Home Design & Estimate
• Easy Financing Available
• No Interest for 12 Months*
• Transferable Lifetime 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
WRITTEN CONTRACT
Yes
WARRANTY TERMS
Limited Lifetime Warranty
Company profile information is not moderated by HomeStars. Ask the contractor to verify before hiring.