A Cabin That Turns? Turn to Hoosick Falls native for that

Posted on January 28th, 2014


By John Craig, The Record

Photo provided From left to right: Co-executive Producer Will Spjut, Pat "Tuffy" Bakaitis and George Verschoor

In her dream cabin, the wife wanted to wake up with the sunrise. The husband wanted to look out the same bedroom window and watch the sunset. So they turned to Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis of Hoosick Falls and his team for help.

He’s not a marriage counselor – Bakaitis is a woodsman, excavator and builder.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but could never do it on my own,” Bakaitis told The Record. “You can do all kinds of goofy things with the bottom of an excavator.”

And he has. Tonight on NatGeo, the National Geographic Channel, his “Building Wild” show will turn an old excavator into a cabin that spins 360-degrees. It’s part of a show based in eastern Rensselaer County and southern Vermont with Hoosick Falls natives Bakaitis and George Verschoor.

“Tuffy is one of the most talented fabricator, woodsman, and backwoods inventors you’ll ever meet,” Verschoor said. “He’s known as a local legend.”

“We found one (excavator), stripped it down to the turntable; the house bearing is made to manage the whole machine,” Bakaitis said.

The producers, including Verschoor, who actually rode the school bus with Bakaitis as kids, were skeptical and didn’t want to layout the money for the big machine.

“They were kind of against me on it,” said Bakaitis, 51, who has owned Hoosick Sand & Gravel for over 35 years. “The price of scrap is so high; it’s kind of killing us a little bit.”

But they found one with a 14’ x 8’ base and built a cabin on it. They estimate that the kit alone was 18,000 lbs. without roofing, flooring or furnishings. When it was all said and done, it weighed about 25,000 lbs.

Bakaitis and designer Paulie DiMeo, who is a jack-of-all-trades and TV veteran, have created “Cabin Kings” which will build dream cabins in five-days. They built and filmed each episode from last June through October. The series began airing January 14 on the NatGeo Channel. DiMeo became known for building the impossible over nine seasons on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” including a house in Colonie in 2007.

Bakaitis says “there’s nothing scripted about it” and it combines education, humor and you get “the real deal.” As for the turntable cabin, “I bet Paulie I could put my thumb on the corner and it will spin. That was my design.”

Verschoor asked Tuffy: “What if this doesn’t work?” Tuffy answered, “It’s going to work.”


Verschoor studied filmmaking at Syracuse University and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream in 1983, after graduation.

“I caught the bug for storytelling and filmmaking,” Verschoor said. “My first break came when I produced and directed “The Real World” (on MTV). Those early years were great on that show. It was ground-breaking and launched a lot of different opportunities.”

Verschoor, 53, also headed “Nashville Star” which discovered Miranda Lambert and he later worked on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” where he met DiMeo and worked on a house in Springfield, MA.

“He and I started talking about our love of the outdoors in the northeast,” said Verschoor. When DiMeo met Bakaitis, who owned five cabins at the time, they came up with the idea for “Cabin Kings” to help people build a wilderness man cave and soon after, the show was born.

“It’s great to be back in my hometown working with a lot of the folks I know,” Verschoor said from Vermont, where his team is scouting the next season. “These are great, salt-of-the-earth characters. There’s hard-working talent, a lot of great craftsman here. There’s a great cabin culture and the people are saving and looking for that little piece of paradise.”

The show doesn’t just give the cabins away. The families have to put some of their own money and labor into it. But it is built in less than a week.

“It’s not a program that is just giving these things away,” Verschoor said. “They work with Paulie and Tuffy on their cabin. They’ve got some sweat equity in it…it’s fun to take people on that adventure.

“Paul does things fast and keeps costs low,” Verschoor said. “Each of these cabins has a bit of a twist to them.”

“Building Wild” is beginning its second season and they are looking for new spots and new ideas – up to 15 projects. You can contact them through their website, cabin-kings.com, to apply and offer up land and materials.

“Pursuing the dream is the story,” Verschoor said. “It’s outdoors and hardship and challenge. That’s what this story is all about. You go on this adventure for a weekend.”


For special work, Bakaitis will take work to his own workshop – “we can’t do everything out in the bush…and on the job site you will find mud, stumps and gravel.”

The premiere of the show was held at the new “Dutchaven Sports Pub” in Buskirk next to the golf course. All 14 flat screen TVs were tuned in for the party. And that’s one of the rare times Bakaitis watched TV. Bakaitis is a different cat. To relax, he likes to spend time in his woodshop when he gets home.

“I’m a busy guy,” Tuffy said. “I’m a family farmer. I leave the house at 6 a.m. and I’m not home till 8 or 9 p.m.”

Bakaitis, who this week braved the cold to feed his cows – 30 on his farm and 17 on the way – says there’s a lot of excavation with these shows. They have to build roads, prep the site, get up mountains and put in foundations, “plus there’s a camera in my face all the time.”

“We’d all like to take a little more time to build these,” Bakaitis said. “I don’t know who came up with the five-day time limit but it’s rush, rush, rush and work your ass off.”

And he says it’s done well for the local economy. They bring in a whole crew, rent a wing of a motel in Bennington, VT, plus get supplies from local saw mills, hardware stores and roofing companies.

He has had to promote the show in California a couple of times but says he doesn’t like that because it feels like bragging and he remembers what his mother told him – “Don’t talk about yourself.”

Additionally, he doesn’t follow any sports but will go to a friend’s Super Bowl party “just to be polite…they have got a lot of good stuff to eat.”

As for this week’s episode, which airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays, Tuffy said: “I think it’s one of our better builds.”

Hoosick Falls’ Tuffy Bakaitis on Nat Geo’s “Building Wild”

Posted on January 14th, 2014

Hoosick Falls’ Tuffy Bakaitis on Nat Geo’s “Building Wild”

Reality show reunites a dozen childhood pals from Hoosick Falls

By Paul Grondahl

Published 10:02 pm, Friday, January 10, 2014

Pat "Tuffy" Bakaitis,left, Mike Carney (landowner) and Paul Dimeo, right, during filming for "Building Wild,"which airs Tuesday on the National Geographic channel. (Courtesy George Verschoor)

Hoosick Falls

Paul “Paulie” DiMeo and Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis call themselves the Cabin Kings, and when they’re not engaged in trash-talking, testosterone-laced tirades followed by the inevitable bro hugs, they are taking the concept of man caves to places they have never gone before in a new National Geographic reality TV show.

“Building Wild” airs its first episode Tuesday with a project to transform a tumbledown 19th-century barn into a tricked-out new hunting camp in Cambridge, Washington County, for farmer Mike Carney and 11 pals since childhood who call themselves “the Dirty Dozen.”

The kicker is that the Dirty Dozen and the professionals have only five days to build the camp, using mostly recycled lumber from the barn.

They end up fashioning a bar that used salvaged boards from an old bowling alley — all the better for sliding bottles of beer — and repurposing a reclaimed old tractor cab as a rolling outhouse that moves on rails: closer to the cabin in winter and further away in the pungent summer months.

Cold brewskis will flow in all seasons.

“We’re like little kids building a fort in the backyard,” DiMeo said. “Only we have better materials and bigger tools and hopefully a little more wisdom.”

Don’t count on that last bit. A trailer advertising the show features plenty of backwoods antics, pratfalls in swamps, a clash of cultures and locker-room humor.

The TV show reunites two childhood buddies who rode the Hoosick Falls school bus together, Bakaitis and producer George Verschoor. It also extends the team of DiMeo and Verschoor, who worked for a decade on the popular “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

DiMeo and Verschoor were part of the “Extreme Makeover” team that tore down an old ranch house on Fairway Lane in Colonie in 2007 and transformed it into an Adirondack-style custom home for Debbie Oatman and her sons.

When that show ended, DiMeo and Verschoor kicked around ideas and Verschoor arranged for DiMeo and Bakaitis to meet. Bakaitis is a heavy equipment operator who owns and operates Hoosick Sand and Gravel and is something of a local legend as an iconoclast and hell-raiser.

Bakaitis was working on his grandfather’s dairy farm by age 8 and driving tractors by the time he turned 9. “He’d put blocks of wood on the pedals so I could reach them. I loved spreading the manure, cutting the hay and doing other farm jobs,” Bakaitis recalled.

He turned the idyllic scenes of Grandma Moses’ rustic country life paintings — Bakaitis is a neighbor and friends with Moses family members — on its head.

He built five camps on his farmland over the years.

“Every one has a purpose,” he explained. “One is a happy-hour camp where me and the guys have been going on Friday nights for 20 years. That way we don’t trash each other’s houses.”

What do they do at the happy-hour camp?

“We drink a lot of beer, sit on the porch, build a fire in the fire pit and we vent,” he said. “We also shoot things. We fire off a big, old cannon. We might blow up an old car. Just fun stuff.”

DiMeo said he hit it off with Bakaitis right away, despite the fact that he’s a L.A. dude, a city slicker who fancies himself as an artiste. Bakaitis is a burly fellow who is an artist with bulldozers, backhoes, excavators, front-end loaders, skid steers and more.

“Paulie’s such a city boy,” Bakaitis said. “He fell down in a swamp. He was scared of every critter. He’s not at home at all out there in the woods.”

“He’s everything I’m not,” DiMeo said of Bakaitis. “But I learned a lot from him, including that a goat has two teats and not four.”

“There’s a great chemistry watching these two work together, and annoying each other, too,” Verschoor said. “Paulie is really creative and Tuffy is like Huck Finn mixed with Davy Crockett.”

Bakaitis recalled Verschoor as the quiet, brainy kid on the bus who left town, graduated from Syracuse University and won fame and fortune in the TV industry in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Bakaitis and his rabble-rouser brothers and friends stuck around Hoosick Falls, population 3,474.

The fourth-generation town resident said his excavation and sand and gravel business took a hit during the recession and he was happy for the TV work. They shot a first season of 10 episodes, creating over-the-top man camps in and around Hoosick Falls and Bennington, Vt.

“I’ve only heard positive things around town,” Bakaitis said. “We employed 30 local people for four months. The local diners did great business. We bought a ton of wood from the local sawmill in North Petersburgh.”

Verschoor said he enjoyed getting to work in his hometown, where he and his wife and two daughters have a house they enjoy on holidays and summer vacations away from their home in Los Angeles.

“I’ve got 10 guys I grew up with who still live there and it was great to see my buddies,” he said. “I love telling these stories about everyone coming together to make something great from nothing. And, of course, Paulie and Tuffy are two amazing personalities.”

pgrondahl@timesunion.com • 518-454-5623 • @PaulGrondahl

A camp for the guys

“Building Wild” premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday on the National Geographic channel. The first episode is called “Dirty Dozen Deer Lodge.”


Hoosick Falls man to co-star in National Geographic reality show

Posted on January 14th, 2014

Hoosick Falls man to co-star in National Geographic reality show
Creativity foundation of ‘Wild’ series
POSTED: 01/10/2014 01:00:00 AM EST

The “Building Wild” crew works into the night on a cabin in Arlington. (National Geographic Channels)

HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. — A local man will be co-starring in a new National Geographic Channel reality show about building cabins in out-of-the-way places.

In the first episode of “Building Wild,” Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis, of Hoosick Falls, and Paul “Paulie” Dimeo, of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” fame, team up to build Mike Carney and his 11 friends – called “The Dirty Dozen” — a new hunting camp in the Jackson/Cambridge area.

The show’s first season includes 10 episodes, the first of which premiers Tuesday at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel.

Bakaitis and Dimeo are an odd couple. Bakaitis is a farmer and owns Hoosick Sand and Gravel. Dimeo, who lives in Los Angeles, was a featured designer on all nine seasons of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” which aired on ABC Television and won two Emmy awards.

“You can see it in the first episode, Tuffy is a practical guy,” said the show’s producer, George Verschoor, who produced the first four years of the MTV series “The Real World,” which is considered to be one of the earliest reality programs. Dimeo, he said, 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.

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 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, as is labor. The Dirty Dozen’s hunting cabin was built using wood salvaged from a barn on Carney’s property, and the men themselves along with friends supplied much of the labor.

The end result was no simple cabin. Dimeo designed a bar using boards from an old bowling lane perfect for sliding bottles of beer, and an old truck provided the frame for an outhouse on rails — one that can be brought close in the cold weather and moved farther off in the summer months.

Bakaitis said having the clients help build gives them a greater sense of ownership with the final product, especially when building materials come from structures they knew and loved.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.

Building Wild Teaser Trailer

Posted on January 7th, 2014

Check out the Building Wild Extended Trailer and get pumped for the series to premiere Jan. 14 @ 9/8c!


Posted on December 16th, 2013



Craftsmen Paul DiMeo (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) and Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis Build Backwoods Paradises … but First They Need a Road to Get There!

New Series Building Wild Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9 PM ET/PT on the National Geographic Channel

(Washington, DC – December 16, 2013) Designer Paul DiMeo (@Paul_DiMeo) became known for building the impossible over nine seasons on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Now he’s ready for perhaps the most rugged construction show ever — using extreme architectural engineering to create incredible, perhaps improbable, wilderness cabin retreats in America’s last frontiers.

Premiering Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT, National Geographic Channel goes off the map to kick off its first do-it-yourself series, Building Wild. Paulie, as he is known, has partnered with woodsman and master fabricator Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis on a cabin design and construction business called Cabin Kings. These “Cabin Kings” are construction’s odd couple: Paulie is a city boy at heart and Tuffy is a gruff, logical woodsman who has never heard of Starbucks. But together, this duo creates unbelievable wilderness getaways, transforming discarded materials into fabulous contraptions and overcoming outrageous building challenges along the way.

Forget the man caves, these getaways are the ultimate escape: from a snowboarder’s paradise perched atop an abandoned ski hill to a cabin built on a turntable so the owners can enjoy the sunrise and sunset from their porch.

Each week, they meet a new client who owns a challenging piece of wilderness and dreams of building a cabin on the property. The Cabin Kings provide big ideas and construction know-how. To keep costs low, the landowners must provide some materials, bring together a workforce of friends and family and agree to do the entire build in one week.

But before these getaway dreams can come true, they must get to the retreat! In rough terrain, often miles from the nearest road, the Cabin Kings will have to transport building materials. Where there is no road, these guys will have to build their own.

Each finished cabin is a an awesome, rustic feat, a backwoods paradise that defies the odds: a school bus could become a screened-in porch; a shipping container can become a vertical lookout tower; and a tumbling-down barn is the raw material for a brand-new hunting retreat. Relax, drink a beer and enjoy the view.



Premiere episodes include:

Building Wild: Dirty Dozen Deer Lodge

Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT

The Cabin Kings are charged with building a rustic hunting cabin for farmer Mike Carney and Mike’s 11 best friends. These buddies since childhood refer to themselves as “The Dirty Dozen,” and they’ve been spending hunting season together since they were in elementary school. Mike has a big dream and an even bigger group of friends, but he’s short on time and money. Paulie and Tuffy will repurpose a 100-year-old barn (that’s one stiff wind away from complete collapse) on their 300-acre property into a brand-new cabin. And they’ll do it the old-fashioned barn-raising way. It takes 16 men to hold up the first wall. Struggling together, they raise the wall and get it nailed in place. The men celebrate, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Will the Cabin Kings be able to transform this ancient barn into a modern marvel that sleeps 12?

Building Wild: Movable Beast

Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT

The Cabin Kings are working with an ex-Navy SEAL who wants to build multiple camps to accommodate all his friends and families. While touring potential build sites on the property in “The Beast” — a 1963 military cargo truck that the clients use to drive all over their land — Paulie proposes a wild solution: taking the truck and turning it into a mobile cabin that you can drive anywhere on the property. The idea is just insane enough to work. But in order to set the foundation of the main cabin, the Cabin Kings and crew have to move huge boulders into position — a big undertaking in the best of conditions, but on a remote location, a nearly impossible job. Plus, because there are no roads to deliver materials, some local loggers will have to build their own road. Paulie and Tuffy also learn that the truck is called “The Beast” for a reason; it’s an ornery, lumbering piece of equipment with no shocks, and the first time they try to pull it parallel to the cabin, the deck is almost taken out!

Building Wild: Log Jam

Premieres Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT

Pat and Ryan Sweeney have a father-and-son logging business and a pile of “trash” that’s about to become treasure. Paulie pitches the idea of building a “cabin fit for a logger,” constructed entirely of materials found on the property. But they will have to contend with a steep mountain trail nearly a mile long. Paulie puts into action an idea to build the entire front façade of the cabin with stacked firewood to create a cordwood look. He then throws in an extra project by converting the discarded pontoon boat they found at the bottom of the hill into a floating party island. The team rigs up a log-hauling machine to pull the massive boat up the mountain, but halfway up, Paulie navigates the pontoon right into a tree! Once successfully at the top of the mountain, Paulie and Tuffy rush to strip the boat and build a new deck with a diving platform. With all of the new additions, will the thing even float?

Building Wild is produced by 90 Miles in association with Hoosick Falls Productions and Shake Media, Inc. for National Geographic Channel (NGC). Executive producers are George Verschoor, Will Spjut and Paul DiMeo. For NGC, executive producer is Stephanie Buxbaum; vice president, production & development is J-T Ladt; senior vice president, production & development is Alan Eyres; and president is Howard T. Owens.


National Geographic Channels

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC currently available in 85 million U.S. homes. Globally, National Geographic Channel is available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries and 48 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Chad Sandhas, 202-912-6537, csandhas@natgeotv.com


NGC Building Wild on Facebook

Posted on December 16th, 2013

The official Facebook page of the new National Geographic series premiering Jan 14th at 9PM featuring Paul Dimeo of Extreme Makeover Home Edition and Patrick “Tuffy” Bakaitis is live! “Like” us on Facebook for frequent updates: https://www.facebook.com/BuildingWild

New Series Building Wild to Premiere Jan. 14 @ 9pm on National Geographic Channel

Posted on December 13th, 2013

Duran Duran live at the Mayan with David Lynch

Posted on March 25th, 2011

We had a great time at the Mayan last night!  We were there for the Duran Duran concert presented by American Express; David Lynch directed a live webcast that you can watch down below.


Duran was the first of the ‘new wave’- bands like Arcade Fire (2011 Grammy), Panic! At The Disco, and Franz Ferdinand owe a lot to the group.

george verschoor hoosick falls the real world david lynch extreme makeover

Check out David Lynch Foundation now on Pledge Music

Posted on March 19th, 2011


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