'Cabin Kings' looking for sites in the Brattleboro area
BRATTLEBORO -- If you have a piece of land in the woods in need of a cabin, the National Geographic Channel is looking for you.
The first season of "Building Wild," currently airing on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., was filmed entirely in the Bennington area, and now the show's producers are looking for locales in the Brattleboro area.
The series features Paul DiMeo of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Hoosick Falls, N.Y., native Pat "Tuffy" Bakaitis. The pair -- known as the "Cabin Kings" -- meet with prospective land owners and determine whether a cabin can be built. They then take about a week to do it.
DiMeo is a city boy at heart and Bakaitis is a gruff, logical woodsman. Together, they create wilderness getaways, transforming discarded materials into fabulous contraptions and overcoming outrageous building challenges along the way.
"You can see it in the first episode, Tuffy is a practical guy," the show's producer, George Verschoor, told the Bennington Banner. Verschoor produced the first four years of the MTV series "The Real World."
DiMeo, said Verschoor, is more of a dreamer whose ideas often rankle his partner in terms of their feasibility.
"He's no outdoorsman, he's a city boy. He's a hoot to follow around," said Bakaitis of his business partner. "He just doesn't know what it takes to pull a job off."
Verschoor and Bakaitis have known each other since they were children.
"We rode the school bus together," said Verschoor, who owns a home in Hoosick Falls. He said he knew DiMeo through "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," and introduced him to Bakaitis one day.
As it turns out, Bakaitis and DiMeo share a love of building, especially cabins. Bakaitis had built five and showed them off to DiMeo.
"We got a lot of good ideas and decided to build them for other people," Bakaitis said.
The two have formed a business, Cabin Kings, and the show, "Building Wild," is about them making a go of it, said Verschoor. He pitched the idea to National Geographic, which liked the outdoors angle.
"We're documenting the startup of this cabin building business, and the Cabin Kings are headquartered in Hoosick Falls, New York," Verschoor told the Reformer. "The area they're currently building in is in the Southern Vermont/Upstate New York area, an area with a very heavy cabin culture. In the future, they do hope to take on builds across the country."
Viewers should enjoy watching Bakaitis and DiMeo work together, said Verschoor, as the two both love what they do and are experts, but approach things from different angles. One client suggested they get marriage counseling.
The two clash in the first episode when DiMeo and the client want to raise the frame of the camp the old fashioned way using "gin poles," but Bakaitis thinks using his excavator would be faster and safer.
Many of their projects have a "build-as-you-go" feel, he said, and he often finds himself trying to bring his partner down to earth. Bakaitis said when they do pull off an amazing feat of woodland engineering, it only encourages DiMeo, and their clients, to want more.
One of their projects is a ski cabin that rotates so sunrise and sunset can both be watched from the front porch.
All the episodes of the first season feature projects in the upstate New York and southern Vermont area, such as Shaftsbury, Sandgate and Glastenbury.
Bakaitis said Cabin Kings' business model keeps costs low because they use materials found on-site and the landowners are asked to bring together a workforce of friends and family and agree to do the entire build in one week. It's up to the landowners to usher the project through the local permitting process.
Find more details on how to apply, visit cabin-kings.com/apply.php.
Bennington Banner reporter Keith Whitcomb, Jr. contributed to this report.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.
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