Catching Up on Building Wild: Float My Cabin

In Cambridge New York, Paulie DiMeo and Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis, co-owners of the Cabin Kings are Building Wild smack in the middle of the swamp. Jared Woodcock aka “Bird Boy” is a “bird-a-tologist” according to Paulie. Actually, he’s a biologist who now teaches sustainable agriculture and has a real love for birds and the swamp. In fact, he has about 200 acres of wetlands and he and his Uncle Jan dream of having a duck blind. Hearing that the Cabin Kings can build anywhere, he invites them out to take a look and prove it.

Spoiler Alert!

If you want to watch this episode and not ruin the surprise, stop reading now!

Paulie and Tuffy paddle in to the site in a canoe, arriving at what Paulie figures is the “gates of hell.” All the same, the guys are willing to take a look, but scouting is a little different than usual. Paddling around, they finally find a cove that even Paulie has to admit is beautiful. He thinks putting in piers won’t be too much of a problem, but we’ll see.

Jared wants something that is fairly primitive looking, something like a “big bad-ass screened-in porch.” Surely, the Cabin Kings can build something a little better than that! Still, it isn’t going to be easy. They are going to have to pre-fabricate sections of the build and float them to the site. Not to mention build on the water, which is likely to complicate everything.

The guys start with locust wood posts to hold up the foundation. Locust is naturally water-resistant, exceptionally decay-resistant and readily available on the property. Oh, and the beavers won’t chew on locust. It’s a good start, but they are going to need more than a good start.

Just watching Paulie and Tuffy walk through the swamp proves that nothing is simple in the muck. Floating the materials to the site in canoes isn’t working out so well and walking is impossible. In fact, Paulie gets soundly stuck in the muck, swearing that Tuffy is only still moving because he’s more buoyant. It’s probably not a good idea to call a guy fat when he’s the only one available to pull you out –and the only one with a solution. Tuffy extracts Paulie and then creates a master raft from truck tire inner tubes and they are back in business. (If you want a good laugh, check out the guys getting unstuck.)

They are a good way into the build when Jared decides that he wants bird houses built into the cabin. Paulie and Tuffy agree as long as the crew provides the bird houses to install. However, Jared doesn’t stop there. He wants a roof porch and a boat hoist as well. The Cabin Kings raise their eyebrows, but finally agree that if Jared and Jan can bring them the materials, they will do it.

Apparently, Jared and Jan are up to the challenge. They bring them the materials for a ladder, find them more materials in Jan’s storage shed and Tuffy gets to work on an idea to build an “eagle’s nest” on the roof top. Then the clients get busy building bird houses to integrate into the walls.

In the last 24 hours, Jared and Jan are sent away so the final touches are a surprise. Although Paulie and Tuffy manage to smash the first frame for the eagle’s nest, they are still on schedule to finish in time. (If they work all night, of course.) In the end, despite all the extras Jared suggested, there is still time for a few surprises. Tuffy works on a floating duck blind while the crew adds a little flair to make the eagle’s nest look like a real eyrie.

The finished cabin is a dramatic primitive beauty that truly looks like it belongs in the swamp. Jared is thrilled, especially when he sees the inside. It looks like a lived-in antique office. The bird boxes are awesome, with natural wood on the outside, plexiglass backs, and doors that open into the cabin for a peek inside. If that isn’t enough, the flat bottom boat duck blind gives them movable view. Most impressive, however, is the view from the eagle’s nest, complete with a comfy Adirondack chair for bird watching. It was a tough build, but a perfect match for interesting clients. I guess you can say that the Cabin Kings can be pretty bird-brained.

What else can Tuffy and Paulie do? Tune in to Building Wild: Top of the World on Tuesday March 18 at 9PM et/pt.  


  1. jim kelley
    United States
    March 13, 2014, 5:43 pm

    paulie & tuffy how would you like to build on an island in a remote place. looking to build a off the grid place. very cool island in the usa