Heath Squier: I’m here with Gary Collins, former FDA investigator and author of “The Primal Power Method”, and myself Heath Squier CEO of Julian Bakery. Gary has written numerous books here, and today we wanted to talk a little bit about his off the grid project, which he is just wrapping up. He’s made some incredible videos that you guys have to check out.
We’ll put some links onto this video at the bottom of this page in the description area. Gary tell us about what you’ve been doing up in Washington.
Gary Collins: It all started several years ago. I started looking for a remote piece of land that anyone who’s done this…it’s tough. A lot of the good land is bought and it’s expensive.
I’m an average guy. I don’t come from millionaires. I grew up very poor, first kid to graduate from college, so I’m doing this with modest means.
I found 20 acres up in north east Washington. I’d explored it for years, and I traveled the whole country trying to figure out where I wanted to do this, to let people understand it’s not a simple process where you just go out, and buy land, and put a cabin up.
It takes a lot of research in figuring out where you want to live. I explored that part and that’s the part of the country I fell in love with. That’s where I explored, and I spent multiple trips going up there and looking around and I got lucky. I found a lot that was perfect for what I wanted to do, but it’s raw. Everyone has different standards.
My standards was I wanted a view of mountains and a lake. I didn’t have to be on it, or it in my yard, but I wanted to see it. I was going for views, that was what my whole point was. I wanted relaxing views, wanted this amazing property where I could go relax, where I could go hunt, fish, and have a shooting range, which I do have.
I was able to build a little shooting range, which I have already taken advantage of. I grew up in a place where finding a place to hunt, or just squeeze off was as easy as walking a couple hundred yards. It is nice to be able to do that again.
Gary: It was basically to simplify my life, to get away. Today’s life is…I spent darn near 20 years in the government, traveling, and living a life that I just kind of had enough. I decided to do this project for me first, but I didn’t realize how unique it was.
I’ve been told by multiple people, even in the area I’m at, where I’m remote, that I’m doing this very differently than most people do because most people watch the Alaskan shows and think you just cut down trees and put up a cabin and there you go. It’s much more complicated than that now.
There’s a lot of regulations. You can’t just get away with just throwing structures up and totally living off the grid. You can’t finance also.
That’s another thing that I realized, is that if you don’t have power run to the property off the utility company, no bank will finance you. There are some that will do off the grid financing, but not very many and it’s very difficult to do, so you have to pay out of your pocket.
I bought the property last year. I went up in May, and I just got back two days ago. I’m back in southern California.
This is going to take a couple years for the full transition. I got up there and put in the well. We actually finished that off yesterday, got the pump in.
It’s a fully functioning well. I had to drill 520 feet. Anyone who knows wells…and that’s a very important part. If you’re going to do this, this is a step that everyone misses.
You have to have water. Without water you’ve got nothing, and I knew in the area, there was water. How deep was I going to have to go?
That was the issue. We knew I was surrounded by lakes, we knew there was a water table. We knew it was there, we just didn’t know…and that’s about $25,000, just to drill a well.
Gary: I haven’t even put a foundation in and I’ve probably spent close to $50,000. People have to understand it’s very expensive too. I’m going to do it for less than it costs to buy a condo in a real crappy neighborhood in southern California, but I have to do it with cash.
There’s steps to it, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve spent four months of working, finishing up the septic as far as getting it approved. You have to get permits for all of this.
People think you can just dig a trench in the ground and start pooping in it. Well no.
Gary: There’s environmental laws. You have to get things approved. I’m doing this uniquely too.
I’m doing it all permitted, so when I’m done with this property it’s going to get its owner occupancy certificate. I’ll get a certificate and that’s huge because a lot of people have don’t do this.
They build a structure none permitted, they put in a non‑permitted septic system, they may even drill a well, and they may even have running water or a creek running through the property. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice because you’re spending all this money and you’re never getting it back. If you sell that property someone has to go on there, and you can’t permit something after it’s done.
You can but you have to rip out all the walls and have everything inspected. It’s really time consuming and usually the structures are substandard because the people who built them weren’t contractors or construction people.
Basically you lose money, because you now have to sell this lot with this infrastructure on it that has to be all torn back out.
Heath: Oh man.
Gary: That’s one lesson I learned. I’ve been told that my property will probably be worth twice what I put into it because I’m doing it right. If you’re going to go off the grid, being smart is looking at it as an investment to.
Let’s be realistic in life. You just don’t want to throw money away. You want to live off the grid and have this simple life style, but what happens if something goes wrong?
What happens if you have a major health condition? You have a stroke or a major injury? You need to get rid of that property.
If you did everything non code, you’re going to have a hard time selling it and you’re not going to make any money. It’s always about planning, too. People realize one of my strong points is, I’m a planner.
I’m an organization guy, so I went into this project not willy nilly, and I had a plan and it’s going to take several years. I thought I could speed it up and get it done in 12 to 18 months, but it’s not going to happen. There’s a lot to it, and I’m not building a very big place. I’m only building an 800 square foot house and that was bigger than I intended in the beginning.
People go, “Oh my God! How are you going to live in such a small place?” I live in a 475 square foot place right now.
I downsized. I’ve already gone through the evolution of downsizing and simplifying my life. It’s been stages, and that’s what I try to emphasize.
I’m going to write a book about this whole process, and I’ve written blog posts on how to simplify your life on primalpowermethod.com. I have a great article and it’s actually been published in a couple of other places about how to take the steps and how to do it. That’s what I’m trying to do, because everything I do, I try and teach, and make it a learnable moment.
Heath: It goes along the ways of everything you do, it’s about simplification from your books that you write to the way of living and the way of eating. It’s definitely transparent in terms of you practice what you preach. I think your videos are great, it’s gorgeous. I saw the land up there and your views.
It’s amazing what you’re doing on the property and I definitely commend you for doing that. It’s obviously something that’s really hard. I don’t think anybody could accuse you of being lazy.
Gary: That’s it. I got it on that last video we did on skinny shaming. I was offended about some of the comments people said of us fat shaming people and body shaming. I’ve worked incredibly hard in my life to accomplish the things I’ve accomplished.
To belittle it and to turn the tables is insulting. People can see that I’m a hard worker and I’m not in this for just me. Everything I do I try and help other people to learn from what I’m doing.
To think I just came up with this willy nilly, and all of a sudden I just went off the grid and I’m going to homestead, which some people have done. [laughs] We’ll talk about that. This has been a plan for seven or eight years now.
I’ve slowly put the pieces in place financially and in my lifestyle and everything I’ve done leading up to this point. It wasn’t something I just did. I’ve built a couple houses in the past, not me personally, but I’ve assisted in certain areas.
I’ve remodeled houses, gutted houses, and bought land before, so I had a background in what I was doing. It was preparing for the final event I guess, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
Even with the experience I had doing these things, it’s always different for everyone if you’re going to do this. Your land is going to be in a different place, you’re going to have different weather, and you’re going to have different types of architecture, structure.
There’s so many variables I can give you. I can give you a template but you have to personalize it to your surroundings, what you’re going through, what you want.
This is what I wanted. The land you pick out could be very different from the land I picked. Once you get that land, you have to make the changes and adapt to that land.
You may have power close. I did not have power close. It was going to cost me close to $100,000 to run power. Why would I do that?
I wanted to go solar and wind anyway, but that just reinforced what I was doing that that wasn’t an option. It makes it harder because again, I have to use all my financial resources in order to do it, but there are ways to finance it at the tail end which I’ll talk about in future videos, the financial aspects and how I’m doing things. That’s a whole other thing.
If you don’t have your financial life in check, you’re not going to live off the grid. I’ll tell you that right now. If you don’t have a good, solid plan…and you have to be debt free.
I’m debt free. If you have debts and you have payments on things and trying to do this, it’s just not a good idea. That’s why I’m talking about the planning in this, and why I’m going to write another book.
It won’t be 400 pages. It’ll be another 150 page book. Very short, simple, concise.
The videos, I’ve gotten such good feedback off the videos because what they see that’s real. I’m showing them everything that’s going on. We had to tow the drilling rig up to the drilling site with a dozer.
It’s so remote, we had to build the road to get to that point and the drilling rig still got stuck, but I had a backup plan knowing that I may have to tow the thing up there, and we did. The video is incredible to see the size of this rig. I don’t even know how many tons this rig…it’s over 50 tons, the weight of this drilling rig.
Gary: To see a dozer dragging this thing up to the site, that was part of the planning I’m talking about. That’s a big deal. You better have a plan.
If you try to do this willy nilly it’s going to bite you in the butt, and you’re going to waist some money and time. There’s going to be things that pop up, that have already popped up for me. You have to be able to adapt and move.
I lived out of a hotel for three weeks before I figured out my plan. I had to keep my place back in southern California because I didn’t know. It was completely uncharted.
Heath: Another thing that speaks volumes is that you were planning this for seven or eight years ahead of time, so you knew what you were getting into ahead of time and you were prepared for anything. Which is the way people…anything that you do you should go in completely prepared.
We want to definitely encourage everybody to click over to all the different videos. He’s got quite a few of them, and if you have questions be sure to email Gary at [email protected] or myself at [email protected] I think it’s awesome what Gary is doing on this off the grid project.
We want to thank you all for tuning in. Make sure you hit the subscribe button and stay up to date on all our most recent videos. We want to thank you all for tuning in.
Gary: One last thing, this will be going on for years, guys. This is going to be evolving. You’ll see many more videos and you’ll get to see the whole evolution as I go through the entire process. I’m going to document the entire thing.
Heath: Awesome Gary. We’ll definitely take a look at all your upcoming videos. Thanks so much.
Gary: Thank you.
Links for Heath, Gary and The Primal Show
Gary’s “Off The Grid” Videos
Check out Heath Squier’s complete diet here:
Julian Bakery Online Paleo Food Store (Transitional Foods)