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Redefining Usable Space

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What defines a basement? While many will be familiar with the word, are they familiar with the possibilities? The word itself, and its stereotypical uses, can often be considered negative, or uninspiring. However, for those at Penguin Basements, this is a missed opportunity and can prevent people from seeing the extraordinary possibility this space has to offer. At this company, a basement can become something life changing. Turning basements into bedrooms, apartments, games rooms and wine cellars are just some of the many innovative ways Penguin Basements have transformed what is often considered usable space, into something of real importance and value. The team at Penguin Basement are now on a mission to showcase the limitless potential basements have to offer, while redefining exactly what a basement is.

Founded in 2011 and based in Ontario, Penguin Basements set out to rise above its competition by employing higher build standards, utilizing more suitable materials, and implementing a proven build process (similar to that employed by housing developers) to deliver a better basement in terms of design, functionality, quality, and durability. After discovering the demand for housing and construction outside of the Greater Toronto Area during COVID, Penguin Basements expanded to Cottage Country, The Muskokas, and also up north in places such as London, Ontario, and Ottawa. Today, the business now caters to most of the Ontario province.

Penguin Basements offers a range of services that can be designed to client’s needs, but often involve creating more living space to add to the functionality of an existing residence. A previous project, for example, involved leveraging a basement to create a separate recreational and living space for a family. Thus, allowing the children to claim the space as their own during the day, while giving the adults an entertainment space for themselves at night.

With the increase in numbers of people working from home, Penguin Basements has helped create office space to provide a better work/home life environment. The possibilities of what the space can become are limitless, but the team thrive on client satisfaction and aim to provide the best fit for each individual circumstance. In some situations, Penguin Basements has transformed basements into apartments, which in turn has alleviated the pressure of income for homeowners and also helped customer to pay off their mortgages quicker.

Founder of Penguin Basements, Guy Solomon, has worked on a range of projects since business began more than 10 years ago. Throughout his time, Solomon has built and created spaces that have transformed homes. “We build all kinds of projects. We’ve had situations where we had to install elevator lifts or chair lifts for the ageing population. Currently, we are seeing a lot of families amalgamate due to real estate prices being so high. Whether it’s the baby boomer parents moving in with their kids, or the millennials moving back in with their parents, they all want their own space.” For Solomon, this shift in culture towards amalgamated family spaces is borne from a number of factors. Amidst a housing crisis and materials shortage, renovation projects simply make the most sense. “Predominantly what people have been doing is trying to figure out how the family formation can continue to develop and grow, so young families can find a place of residence without this outlandish expense. The trend recently has been towards habitable spaces and affordable spaces, and with the interest rates where they are, that’s kind of where people have been focusing their attention.”

“The possibilities of what the space can become are limitless.”

Whatever project the team at Penguin Basements undertakes, its main priority is to help clients make use of the extra living space. In order to do this, relationships are key. The service it provides is never a one-sided recommendation from the team, but instead a collaboration between the clients wishes and Penguins Basements extensive experience.

While it goes without saying that customer satisfaction is crucial to any business, in the construction industry word of mouth is as much of a powerful ally as it is a deadly foe. With this in mind, it is important for businesses to not only provide a professional standard of business, but to maintain it. Penguin Basements do this by making sure it sticks to its brand promise of building better basements and providing fair pricing.

Solomon has been running a more systematic process over the last number of years by having a road labor and delivering materials all in one go. This streamlined approach has inevitably served his customers well and helps ensure the brand promise of building better basements. But with a promise of building better basements, I was curious to know what makes their basements better.

“We always comply with building code. So, when it comes to an older basement, we always make sure they are insulated properly, and we drop the mechanical vents. We make sure that the heating and cooling system works so that the basement is insulated and complies with the Ontario building code. Along with that, we make sure to use best practices in the products that we use, whether it’s a mold resistant board, or a commercial grade vinyl flooring, we try to make sure that the products that we use will last the test of time.”

After the company’s success with basement renovations, Penguin Basements has decided to grow its business and expand upon the impressive work it has become known for. Using its position in the current marketplace, the team are acting upon the customer’s needs by currently developing houses and other types of real estate. By exploring these new opportunities, Penguin Basements is hoping to alleviate the housing shortage in the province of Ontario somewhat by launching new brands, such as Penguin Living.

Penguin Living will focus on creating custom housing products and homes for specific markets, one of which is accessibility. As Solomon explains, the rationale for this venture is to meet the needs of the market while also capitalizing on the unrivalled experience the company has gathered over the past decade. “We think that there’s a market here for custom homes. Our new brands will be taking a lot of practices that we’ve learned within building basements, servicing an emerging market and the accessibility kind of side of things. So, it’s not directly linked with Penguin basements, but it’s definitely something related to us because we do build a lot of second suites that are used for in laws and ageing family members. This is a way of expanding on that into something, hopefully for the future.”

The team at Penguin Basements has spent a good chunk of their lives turning unused space into cherished space, but now it seems like the right time for the company to grow. Having spent so long in the basement, it only seems right that the team works its way up and evolves. Although, with the highest level of expertise and quality, I’d happily stay in a Penguin basement forever.

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