Episode-1841- Gary Collins on Off Grid Housing Construction
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After an exciting career in military intelligence Collins worked for the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Special Agent. His career took him around the world and gave him a unique perspective on not only how the United States, but the world is affected by our food, drug and healthcare policies.
The highlights of his career took him from protecting some of the most powerful people in the world to investigations involving the biggest tainted pet food death case in the U.S. to the intricate dealings of one of the largest counterfeit prescription drug rings in the world. He has often said, “If American’s really knew what was going on in the area of healthcare and nutrition in this country, they would be appalled.”
Gary’s love for all things primal has now led him to begin a new chapter in his life. He recently purchased 20 acres in Washington state, nearly a thousand miles north of his home in California. Today he joins us to discuss finding rural land, the challenges of building off grid and more. We also delve a bit into entrepreneurial topics, the paleo/primal diet and life and more.
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“The Whigs are a political party dedicated to the proposition that Andrew Jackson is crazy and the Democratic Party is too dangerous for words.”
History DOES rhyme!
Alliteration n. “The repetition of identical or similar sounds at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables.”
When you see alliteration outside of poetry it usually means someone is trying to be clever and occasionally succeeding. I used to be an improvisational comedian when I was younger… much younger and altogether too foolish.
Yes I am appalled by the health and food industries in this corporate controlled country.
Rumor, TPP will ban generic drugs.
Gary stick to giving people advise about health. You should have hired a general contractor to over see you construction project. Why didn’t you? To save money? How did that go? By having a GC it eliminates the possibility of getting screwed. The GC has his subs and he is responsible for their work not you the customer. Second the subcontractors won do a poor job as they won’t get the next.
You should tell people to heir a professional and get it done right the first time.
You really think GC’s don’t fuck people over the same way?
Some might but the customers we have are more the happy with the work. Most become good friends and hire us back for more work. What I’m saying is their are good contractors out there and the good ones will do a better job then a diy. You can go with the lowest bid they are low for a reason. Gary built one house and had trouble that does not mean don’t hire a GC.
A good contractor will stand by their work and won’t stop umtill the customer is happy.
If you would have been paying attention the guy who screwed me was a GC. This is not my first rodeo, a bad GC or sub contractor will screw anyone they can. When dealing with the construction industry there is no easy way to get reliable people, they are what they are. You are completely wrong about they can do better work than DYI, my work is usually far better than any GC or sub I hire. I simply hire them because I don’t have the time to do it myself. You seem to be focusing on a good contractor, which isn’t easy to find when you are new to the area.
The problem you are trying to solve with a general contractor remains the same, but one level removed. Yes, the sub-contractors will want to please the general contractor in the hope of future work, but what future work can you offer to the general contractor? He has multiple customers with you being the smallest of the lot.
Assuming the general contractor is not a con man with a butt-load of excuses for delaying the project, you can let him know that you can wait for the off season or let him know that he can call you if something unexpected happens and he can fit you in. (Hold back your money until he is ready to go.) Knowing that he can keep his crews working when another project unexpectedly grinds to a halt will be a comfort to him… if he is an honest man. If he doesn’t give a crap… maybe he isn’t.
One time I needed a crew to plow under the dried weeds on the back lot of our synagogue. They were a fire hazard, but everyone I called was charging big money, so I hopped into my car and drove around the neighborhood. My neighbors were trying to solve the same problem. I talked to a crew near by and made a deal. They could walk their equipment over to my lot easily. I paid half of what the other guys were quoting because the crew and equipment were already there. To them it was a lot of extra money for only a little more work.
@Alex well put. Let me add one of Gary’s issues had he not been there would have been closed in, never known or seen of until it caused problems years down the road. Likely a GC on this job would not even know SIP panels well in the first place and had even known it was an issue and trusted his sub. Steven Harris calls this stuff a “false sense of security”.
I live near Gary’s place, and him and I have had a few conversations about both of our experiences building out here. I can confirm that 80% of the contractors here act like his did (and my first couple).
Some of these guys are good enough to get past even experienced GCs. I know a guy who was a GC for 40 years, and one of these contractors pulled the wool over his eyes too.
It’s a common problem here, and one that the good contractors readily admit to.
My last ‘bad’ contractor is driving a log truck now.
Jeremy is completely correct, this is crazy land for contractors. No test, or apprenticeship… $135 to the state and you are now a GC, I kid you not. I have hired contractors all over the country and never witnessed anything like this. Drywaller’s charging $90 an hour is unheard of, but it is common in my area, and they are getting people to pay it. Just by doing my own insulation, drywall and painting will save 25 to 30 thousand. I kid you not it is that nuts here.
I have actually had other contractors ask me for referrals for subs, because they can’t find any good ones. I’m contemplating being a drywall hanger and finisher out here for a couple years, I could retire after that 🙂
Is that $90 an hour for a whole crew or per guy? Maybe being a drywaller in Washington will be my backup plan if what I’m doing doesn’t work out!
It is $65 for the main guy $25 an hour for his helper. So he probably pays his helper $15 an hour and pockets another $10 an hour off the books. These guys out here think they are building the space shuttle haha. Heck I would take the $65 an hour, that is more than I made an hour as a senior federal agent with a Masters Degree!
Hey Gary, glad your project is moving along. It sounds like your using Faswall .
What are you using for your exterior plaster/stucco. Are you sheet rocking the interior of the Faswall or plastering. I worked on a Faswall house and used 2 coats of Structo-lite base coat plaster as the finish and the owners loved it. Next update, lets hear about the details of your power system. We live off grid in N. Idaho and enjoy hearing other peoples experiences with the process. I did all the work myself except the concrete slab so no issues with GCs.
Hey Philip, yep I’m using Faswall. I’m going to put Hardy lap siding, just like my solar shed. I told my idiot contractor that from the word go, but he thought I should stucco it, so he recessed the windows when I wasn’t there set up for stucco. Just a complete jackass, now I have to fix that, and it is not an easy fix. I know stucco is the easy way with Faswall, but I live on the top of a mountain in the forest, a stucco house would look pretty stupid. Otherwise I would have been on board to use stucco.
Originally I was going to do all the work myself, but I decided to focus on my business and use a GC to carry the load in the beginning. Hindsight is 20/20 though. Contractors are on my list with government bosses, politicians, and attorneys haha. Total useless tools most of the time.
I have a video showing my power shed on youtube http://www.youtube.com/primalpowermethod is my channel.
I was cracking up when Gary talked about the party line for his phone. I’m 46 too and also had a party line. We lived on an island in Maine so I think the whole island was on the same line. Picking up the phone and hearing ole Beatrice or whatever talking and you’d know you’d never get a chance to make a call.
Also funny that back then we’d only have to dial 5 digits for local numbers like Jack was talking about. Man, am I that old???
I had to chuckle about that 5 year commonality on building. It also seems to apply to singlehandedly restoring an old house with cash and learning how to do everything I can’t afford to hire. Same time frame with other people I know who did the same in this old neighborhood. I taught myself to do plumbing and basic electric and carpentry. That’s a big order for a single woman. It can get disheartening to realize that problems only get fixed when I have the resources and energy to handle them. Fortunately I have good neighbors who will cover for me when city inspectors come snooping. As for the trailer thing, I also morphed from swooning over tiny houses to dreaming about a well appointed trailer – somewhat like the latest T@B campers but one I design and build myself. Those T@Bs ring up at around $22k and that’s not much less than the cash price of this 100 year old house I’m in. Way too expensive in my opinion. Even if I had a bigger two vehicle I’d still want one that was small due to ease of storage and better gas mileage. From my research, there’s a huge unfilled market for efficient teched-out self contained/off grid small campers that can still fit in a garage. I have one all designed and drawn up – just waiting on the means to pay for it and finding an aluminum fabricator with advanced skills.