Updated October 31st We have lowered our review to 6 due to the absolutely pathetic warranty support offered by Penguin. Just like most companies, once they have your money, you no longer matter to them. We have to chase them over and over just to get simple things fixed. Even when we do get them to do the work, they do it so fast and screw things up further. Original Review We just completed our renovation and are very happy with the end results. That said, the 9 out of 10 rating only applies to the quality of the end product and the services tied to it. Since we cannot break down the ratings any further here, I wanted to provide a secondary rating for the planning/communication aspect of the project: 6 out of 10. Initial in house consultation Quite frankly, this meeting was just too long. We had to sit through 3 hours of why our materials are great, why we are great, history of laws, history of materials. There was lots of “this is how we do it, too bad for you if you want it done a different way”. This actually was a really big turn off for us. We were really on the fence and almost did not sign on. People are not stupid, we do our research and we understand what Penguin is about. The initial designs that were presented to us were pretty bad to be quite honest. We really had to push to get it closer to what we had in mind. We had to fight through a lot of “this is how we do it” as mentioned before. Looking back on the project, our sales rep missed all kinds of obvious things that ended up affecting the budget. He also made us promises that were not communicated to the rest of the team. In house measurements This is where the project manager comes in and does measurements for the drawings and city permits. We had Robert come through with a few other people and the process went well. Design meeting If you have ever purchased a new home, you will be very familiar with this process. It’s just on a smaller scale since it’s only for the basement. Our project was relatively simple and I found that travelling all the way to their office to pick of few things was a waste of time. Many of these selections could have been made online. I understand that more complicated basements would require in person discussions but for simple ones, this could free them up for other things. Decisions on certain aspects of the project such as where the washroom would be, how big it would be, where the appliances would be were made based on the measurements taken while the team was in our house. We were happy with those and they made sense. Radio Silence As time moved on, we heard nothing from Penguin in regards to a start date. We wanted to get an idea so that we could plan things on our end like moving everything out the basement. I repeatedly reached out to various members of the team and heard nothing. Not even an acknowledgment of receipt of my messages. After repeated attempts to contact them, they finally responded with the excuse of “we are growing, it’s crazy busy, people have been transferred to different roles”. That is understandable but there is no excuse to let people hang like they did. Is it so hard to say “We received your email and will get back to you soon”. They were finally able to slot us in since another job was put on hold. Once that happened, the ball got rolling really fast. In house wall placement Our project manager changed due to the restructuring mentioned above and we had the pleasure of dealing with Juliano. Great guy but not really part of the nitty gritty of the project, basically wasn’t present after this meeting. He was good at answering our questions via email afterwards though. This was a good meeting. The guys doing the framing were there with us to provide insight on placement, etc. What completely baffled me however was the fact that choices made during the design meeting with the laser measurements taken had to be completely thrown out the door. For example: the placement of our washer, dryer and sink did not even come close to working when done in person. Not sure why this was the case, our basement did not shrink… Juliano and the team were great at making adjustments on the fly. I am glad that we made the choices we did during this meeting, everything turned out great! Construction In general, this process went well. There were however some hiccups and issues along the way. Two rather large issues: First of all, there are some big communication issues going on internally. This is a common theme throughout most reviews. Promises made by sales people are not communicated forward even though they were supposed to be. Decisions made during design are not communicated forward even though they were supposed to be. Reminders of these decisions were given to every manager that came through our house and yet when the trades arrived to do their work, they knew nothing of these items. At the end of the day, Penguin did live up to all of the decisions without much fuss which was great! We found that in general, it wasn’t very clear who was in charge each step of the way. We dealt a lot with Seth, he was really good at helping with the flow. I think some improvement can be made here, it should not be too hard to keep people informed. Penguin makes use of an app to, in theory, keep people informed but the schedule isn’t even close to being accurate and it is not updated. Nature of the beast I suppose, in the end everything was figured out. If I could go back and do it again, I would have made sure to get every single promise in writing just to avoid issues. Secondly, many of the trades treated our house like a job site. The basement is the job site, the rest of my house is our house and you should have some respect and follow what we instruct. You will have an option to get a porta potty outside your house… I advise you take it. Our bathroom was disgusting, so much so that I had to cover all of the walls in plastic. It was like animals were in there. The biggest concern that we had was the fact that many of the trades would leave the front door wide open. Having flies and bees in your house is not fun but the big issue here is security. Anybody could just walk in. Thankfully we were home most of the time but there were some occasions that we were not and came home to a wide open door with people working away in the noise, clueless as to who is coming and going. The dry wall guys even left our basement window open with no screen on it. We mentioned to many of the trades that we wanted the door to remain closed. It was like we were asking them to cut off their hand or something. Our house, our rules. It got so bad with them ignoring us that we had to escalate up to management. After that, things got better but we still had to remind some of the trades. In contrast, some of the trades were the most amazing and considerate people. Top marks to the tapers and the painters. A+ guys! Finishing This was the best part of the job because it is when a gentleman named Roberto takes over. I can’t thank him enough for his incredibly hard work at coordinating all of the last bits of the project such as painting, trim, electrical/plumbing, cleaning, etc. He even went above and beyond to help us with various other things. Absolute pleasure to work with, I can’t state this enough. A+++++. Penguin has a cleaning crew come through at the end and they did an amazing job. Basement is spotless, they cleaned up all of the areas that the workers came through. And yes, they even returned our bathroom to it’s former state. At the end, we stood in our basement and were completely over joyed with it. Yes there were bumps along the way but the team really did their best to make it all work.
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- Company Response
We appreciate the honest and generally positive review. As you noted, there were some bumps along the way, and much of it was due to us not being properly prepared for an explosion of business this year that was beyond our staffing expectations. We have been onboarding new people as well as implementing new standards, and communication protocols to ensure things run much more smoothly as this is of benefit to us as well as our customers. Our first "new process" job just finished and while it is premature to say we've addressed everything, this job went off without a hitch. There are still some "old process" jobs in the pipeline as we felt switching over mid-stream may cause more issues that it addresses. We do listen to client feedback here and elsewhere carefully, and appreciate suggestions for improvement. To that end, we will take this comment, "Many of these selections could have been made online. I understand that more complicated basements would require in-person discussions but for simple ones, this could free them up for other things." to heart and look to add an online catalogue for the Spring. Thank you. We hope you enjoy the basement for many years to come.