About the show

What does it take to build a house totally off the grid in some of the most unforgiving terrain on the planet? We follow a cast of characters who set out to construct three incredible cabins in the obscure Alaskan wilderness. With no roads and no building supply centers, they’ll have to get creative in a new season of Building Alaska .

The Faces of "Building Alaska"

See All Photos

Chuck Gerwig, Builder
The Matanuska Glacier Project

Chuck is building a retirement home for his clients, Rebecca and Cleve Steadman. The home is a two-story 20'x50' luxury log cabin to be built at the base of Matanuska Glacier. Matanuska is the largest glacier in Alaska that can be reached by vehicle. A trip to town from the site is about a three-hour drive.

Jim Wagner, Builder
The Gustavus Project

Jim Wagner is a resident of Gustavus, Alaska, near Juneau. The population of Gustavus is 400. Jim plans to build his wilderness getaway in Chicken, Alaska — some 387 miles from Gustavus, as the crow flies. The population of Chicken: Seven.

Lee Raymond, Builder
The Quiet Lake Project

Lee Raymond is a resident of Chugiak, Alaska. The build site for his retirement home — dubbed "Lee's Nest Egg" — is on Quiet Lake near Mt. McKinley, and about 70 miles northwest of Anchorage. It's the most remote of the three projects and is only accessible by float plane in summer or snowmobile in winter.

Jim Wagner and Family
The Gustavus Project

Jim's extended family includes 22 children and grandchildren, and the whole family is pitching in on the cabin build. Here, from left to right, are Aaron (Jim's stepson and right-hand man), Faith, Jordan, Tanya (Jim's wife), Matti and Jim.

Chuck Gerwig and Family
The Matanuska Glacier Project

From left to right: Gerwig family members Tiffany, Brolene, Chuck, Joe and Benjamin, along with workers Mark and Caleb.

Lee Raymond and Team
The Quiet Lake Project

From left to right: Lee Raymond, Matt Moore, Mike Bragg, Arlen Simmons and Lee's right-hand man, Earl Bragg.

Team Gustavus
Jim Wagner

Jim is building the main structure for his two-story log cabin in Gustavus, meticulously marking each log for identification. The structure will then be disassembled and its components trucked more than 400 miles to its final destination where it will be reassembled. Jim is known as a perfectionist who may take a full day to precisely scribe and prep a single log by hand.

Team Gustavus
Tanya Wagner

Jim's wife Tanya assists with the cabin build and accompanies him on the trip transporting the cabin components 400 miles to Chicken, Alaska. "This is definitely going down in the books for the Wagner family," she says of the whole adventure, "We're definitely going to remember this forever."

Team Gustavus
Aaron Patrick

Each log being used in the Gustavus project is carefully cut and prepped by Jim and his sons and stepsons. Jim's boys Shane, Aaron (pictured here) and Shawn run a logging company nearby in Gustavus.

Team Gustavus
Aaron Patrick

For this project, Jim Wagner and his crew are working hemlock trees which typically grow straight trunks and produce strong, easy-to-work timber that grows harder with age.

Team Matanuska
Chuck Gerwig

Chuck Gerwig is not only a highly skilled builder, he also spent ten years as an Alaskan glacier guide.

Team Matanuska
Ryan Beachy

Ryan Beachy, Chuck's right-hand man on the build, supervises the installation of the scissor trusses that will support the cabin's roof and form the vaulted ceiling inside. Prior to this cabin project, Ryan had worked with Chuck for seven years.

©7D #1

Team Matanuska

Chuck's daughter, Tiffany Gerwig, pitched in on a range of tasks and was there to help see the Matanuska cabin project through to completion.

Team Matanuska

Mae Pauling, interior designer for the Matanuska cabin, made the 90-minute trek from her headquarters in Wasilla, Alaska. Mae assisted with kitchen design and the selection and placement of cabinetry, appliances, etc.

Team Matanuska

The luxurious 2,600-square-foot retirement home Chuck's building at the foot of Matanuska glacier is designed and constructed to be super energy-efficient.

Team Quiet Lake
Lee Raymond

Lee has the experience necessary for the kind of project he's undertaking at the remote Quiet Lake site. He has previously built nearly 50 cabins, all constructed to survive the severe Alaskan weather and conditions.

Team Quiet Lake
Lee Raymond and Earl Bragg

Like Jim Wagner, Lee and his crew are harvesting the timber for the log structure right at the site of the build. Lee selects standing trees that have already died since that will make for timber that is essentially "pre-seasoned" and hardened. This avoids the necessity for kiln-drying the wood.

Team Quiet Lake

Lee's wife, Gail Raymond

Team Quiet Lake

Lee's right-hand man, Earl Bragg

Team Quiet Lake

Lee's dog, Timber

An Alaska Native at Quiet Lake

Alaska Factoid: More than 50 percent of America's remaining wilderness can be found in the state of Alaska.

Team Quiet Lake

Mike Bragg and Matt Moore use draw planes to hand-peel bark from the logs that will serve as support posts and beams for the cabin.

Team Quiet Lake
Matt Moore

Once the ground began to thaw, one of Matt and Mike's tasks was to build a section of access road near the build site. It required more than 60 trips in a four-wheeler, hauling individual loads of gravel and sand.

Team Quiet Lake

Lee Raymond takes a break from the cabin construction for an afternoon of sheep-hunting with his son Aaron and assistants Mike and Matt.
Back to Building Alaska show page.

Watch Highlights from Building Alaska

See All Look

Season 3, Episode 8

Panic Button

Lee's crew must push through waves of mosquitoes and fatigue to finish the deck of their Bulchitna Lake build before the floatplane arrives to take them home for a day of rest. In Haines, Tony and his crew wrestle the largest and heaviest pieces of the build into place without any kind of machinery, and Derek pushes the panic button after more bad weather and mechanical problems delay his build once again.

Sunday
Mar 8
11pm | 10c
Season 2, Episode 3

Chicken or Bust

The three builders each face their own forms of adversity. Lee Raymond is struggling to get back on track after losing a month to bad weather and an impassable semi-frozen Quiet Lake. At the Matanuska Glacier, Chuck Gerwig has had perfect weather, but most of his labor is due to leave once fishing season starts in less than a month. And Jim Wagner has finished, numbered, and taken down his cabin in Gustavus, but now begins the arduous 500 mile transport to Chicken that will include two ferry rides, 2 border crossings and hopefully enough supplies to finish the re-build before winter sets in.

Thursday
Apr 9
12pm | 11c
Season 2, Episode 5

A Long Hard Slog

After battling the tragedy of the loss of his righthand man, Ryan Beachy, Chuck Gerwig is back in the saddle and ready to finish the job that he and Ryan started months earlier. 312 miles northeast in Chicken, Alaska, Jim Wagner and crew are at a near standstill due to a nonstop rain that has turned their man-made road into an impassible swamp. And with a concrete truck due any minute, will they be able to get it fixed before they risk losing any hope of getting the foundation poured? Finally, Lee Raymond has been fighting the same weather since he started and he's still behind. Now he's losing his number one crew to college, so his final push will have to be with a brand new crew that can afford no errors.

Saturday
Jun 13
3am | 2c
Season 3, Episode 6

Balancing Act

The builds are growing taller and the work more dangerous as Lee's crew must balance on a second story beam to get work done. Tony attempts to take a day off but stumbles upon a mysterious cabin that could be his next project. Meanwhile, Derek and his crew attempt to clear the site to create the ski hut's foundation pylons in the face of wicked winds, making it dangerous for the helicopter pilot to sling gravel to the guys.

Sunday
Jul 19
6pm | 5c
Season 3, Episode 10

Heads Up

The drama at Derek's cliffside build near Valdez escalates after rain saturates the region and an accident on the roof almost takes out a crew member. Tony leaves his build in Bobby's hands to tend to another job and returns to find an injury has occurred. Lee discovers the culprit behind a messy footprint while the crew faces sketchy conditions to install the custom windows on their 2500 square foot Bulchitna Lake build.

Tuesday
Oct 6
6pm | 5c
Season 4, Episode 4

Bear Attack

Creig's camp is stunned after a bear attack, high winds wreak havoc and cause delays at Tom's build and Rich goes underwater to save his dock.

Tuesday
Nov 10
10pm | 9c
Season 3, Episode 1

Builders Begin Construction on a Fishing Retreat, a Ski Hut and a Getaway Cabin in Remote Alaska

The return of spring in Alaska means the race is on for three builders to begin constructing homes in the remote wilderness before the inevitable return of winter shuts them down. Three builders begin construction on a fishing retreat near Anchorage, a ski hut close to Valdez and a getaway log cabin in the Southeast corner of remote Alaska. Before breaking ground, one builder has to fly to his build site to inspect the piece of land he purchased without ever stepping foot on it, breaking the number one rule of land buying.

Tuesday
Dec 29
12pm | 11c
Season 4, Episode 10

No Quit

While gale-force winds create danger for Tom's team, and rainy conditions threaten Creig's build, Sitka is nothing but sunny which provides the perfect conditions for Rich to have a whale of a good time.

Tuesday
Jan 5
6pm | 5c
Season 2, Episode 1

The Race Is On: The Builders Set Their Course

Three men set out to build three cabins in remote areas of the Alaskan Frontier. They will make preparations in the harsh Alaskan winter and race against time, the bitter cold, and the wilderness to complete their builds. Using their various skills sets and techniques, three different cabins will be constructed that will all need to hold up in some of the most harsh conditions in the world.

Thursday
Feb 11
12pm | 11c
Season 5, Episode 4

Hello Hoonah

Builder Adam Tschappat and his brothers deal with record-breaking spring temperatures at their build site in the Wrangell Mountains. Mike Williams is keeping one eye on his crops and the other on his build forcing him to look the other way when it comes to code on his Guest Cabin in Eagle Song. Dave and Hans nearly get stranded due to receding tides at the Island Getaway build on Shelter Island.

Tuesday
Mar 1
4pm | 3c
Season 5, Episode 1

Family Legacy

The three build teams kick off their builds in unique, remote Alaskan settings. Adam Tschappat and his family begin building a Family Legacy cabin in the Wrangell Mountains. Mike Williams and his family begin building a guest cabin in Eagle Song, near Mt. Susitna. And Steve Box and his builder friends, Dave Bartlett and Hans Moser, begin an Island Getaway on Shelter Island, near Juneau.

Wednesday
May 11
9am | 8c
Season 7, Episode 7

Home Stretch

All the builders are in the home stretch in Alaska as they try to finish their cabins and floating lodge. Jere and Ben install interior and exterior siding, but their progress comes to a halt when they run out of stain and nails. So they switch to Plan B, installing the upstairs stove and chimney. Nick's roof is dried in, so he turns to finishing the sleeping loft, building a bathroom and adding outside trim. Brannon's team finishes the exterior siding and interior insulation and installs lights.

Sunday
Mar 19
9pm | 8c
Season 6, Episode 7

A Roof Overhead

At Bruce Chambers' build on LaTouche Island, rain has put everything on hold and the crew struggles to keep things dry. At Mark Sam's build on Chichagof Island, tensions run high on Rich's last day making the team uneasy. At Dave Poppert's build near Point MacKenzie, he and his crew rush to make up for lost time and work to get the trusses up and windows installed.

Friday
Aug 25
11am | 10c
Season 6, Episode 2

Piece of the Pie

Bruce Chambers and his crew run out of supplies, putting their cabin build at a standstill. Mark Sams and his crew are challenged to make their foundation level and square, and Dave Poppert and his family deal with a non-functional milling machine while working on their family home.

Tuesday
Oct 3
9am | 8c
Season 6, Episode 3

The Wrong Stuff

The three build teams continue their builds in unique, remote Alaskan settings. At Bruce Chambers' build site on LaTouche Island, their worst nightmare becomes a reality when their backup generator dies. On Mark Sams' build in Freshwater Bay, near Hoonah, one of his crew is missing, and Mark hopes for the best. Dave Poppert is rolling solo despite the risks of building alone off the grid at Point MacKenzie, near Wasilla.

Tuesday
Oct 3
10am | 9c
Season 6, Episode 4

Stormy Weather

The three build teams continue their builds in unique, remote Alaskan settings. At Bruce Chambers' build on LaTouche Island, getting the log walls up continues to be a nightmare, but Bruce finds the perfect way to let off some steam. On Chichagof Island, Mark Sams and his crew endure pounding rain that makes the build miserable. At Dave Poppert's build, he and his team race against Mother Nature to get the roof up before the snow falls in Point MacKenzie.

Tuesday
Oct 3
11am | 10c
Season 6, Episode 5

Seasonal Squeeze

The three teams continue their builds in unique, remote Alaskan settings. At Bruce Chambers' build on LaTouche Island, the team wrestles giant glulam beams into place and the situation turns disastrous after a poorly cut beam pushes out an entire wall. At Mark Sams' build on Chichagof Island, things get scary when the guys lose control of a 700-pound ridge beam. At Dave Poppert's build near Point MacKenzie, his lumber mill takes a hit after an order gets cancelled and reduces funds for his dream retirement home.

Tuesday
Oct 3
12pm | 11c
Season 6, Episode 6

Emergency Supply Run

At Bruce Chambers' build on LaTouche Island, the team comes dangerously close to catastrophe as they install a 1,000 pound ridge beam. At Mark Sam's build on Chichagof Island, the team runs out of critical supplies which sends Mark and Chris on an emergency run to Hoonah to find replacements. At Dave Poppert's build near Point MacKenzie, Dave is making progress with getting support columns into the loft area, getting him closer to having a roof over his build.

Tuesday
Oct 3
1pm | 12c
Season 6, Episode 7

A Roof Overhead

At Bruce Chambers' build on LaTouche Island, rain has put everything on hold and the crew struggles to keep things dry. At Mark Sam's build on Chichagof Island, tensions run high on Rich's last day making the team uneasy. At Dave Poppert's build near Point MacKenzie, he and his crew rush to make up for lost time and work to get the trusses up and windows installed.

Tuesday
Oct 3
2pm | 1c
Season 6, Episode 8

End Game

It's the end of the road for the three builders and their teams of helpful friends, family and handymen. At Point MacKenzie, Dave Poppert fights the cold and snow to finish his home in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Bruce Chambers lucks out when a friend comes to help put the finishing touches his Latouche Island cabin. In Southeast Alaska, Mark Sams and his team scramble to finish their cliff-side cabin on Chichagof Island.

Tuesday
Oct 3
3pm | 2c
Season 7, Episode 1

Building Alaska, the New Generation

A new generation of builders tackles the Alaskan wilds to build off-the-grid cabins. First-time builder Nick faces some harsh realities when he can't use the trees on his build site for lumber. Brannon's team develops a unique foundation system to build on permafrost, but they must fight nature every step of the way. Father and son team Jere and Ben take on a massive 5,000-square-foot floating lodge project, the most challenging and dangerous build ever attempted on Building Alaska!

Friday
Oct 20
11am | 10c
Season 7, Episode 2

Hard Work Beats Talent

Reality sets in for first-time extreme cabin builder Nick Blanco in Alaska as he fights the tides trying to retrieve pylons for his foundation and realizes he doesn't have the right equipment to dig postholes. Then Brannon's team gets stuck on the muddy trail bringing in more build materials, but eventually makes good progress on the front porch before an unexpected rainstorm shuts them down. Jere and Ben continue to build the massive aluminum barge one weld at a time, but when signs of fall creep in, the colder temperatures start to cause problems.

Friday
Oct 20
12pm | 11c
Season 7, Episode 3

Noah's Barge

Jere, Ben and Tim put the finishing touches on the biggest project they've undertaken: building a 112-foot floating barge. They struggle with figuring out how to get a 40-foot trailer underneath it so they can transport it to the water, and hurricane-force winds change their plans and delay the launch. Nick gets help from his family and friends, but the group struggles trying to install the 27 pilings needed to build his dream fishing lodge and warehouse. In the end they solve the problem using some Alaskan ingenuity. Finally, Brannon's cabin starts taking shape as the crew does some heavy lifting putting up the gable end walls.

Friday
Oct 20
1pm | 12c
Season 7, Episode 4

Stuck in Shelikof

Nick experiences firsthand just how dangerous living in Alaska can be while hunting for driftwood to build his fishing lodge and warehouse. Jere and Ben's 112-foot barge starts its half-mile journey to the water, but nobody knows if they will make high tide so the barge can float the 13 miles to its new home at Alaska Sea Otter Sound Lodge. Brannon's team fights the rain and the remote building conditions to finally lift the ridge beam into place, hitting a major milestone in his cabin build.

Friday
Oct 20
2pm | 1c
Season 7, Episode 5

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain and a muddy trail continue to slow down Brannon's cabin build, but despite their dampened spirits, the gang is able to haul the windows across the two-mile trail. Nick makes a roof design change, and a family fundraiser collects enough money to provide him with some help. Jere and Ben finally get the barge launched and tugged to its new home in Sea Otter Sound so that work on the second story of the lodge can begin.

Friday
Oct 20
3pm | 2c
Season 7, Episode 6

Honey Bucket

Nick races to finish his cabin before his mom visits again. Bears are still a threat, so Nick makes sure the electric fence is working. Nick and Kent design and build a "honey bucket," also known as an Alaskan toilet. Brannon and his team finish the front of the cabin, giving it a unique look, and they haul a heavy wooden stove over the trail to install in the cabin. Jere and Ben's crew struggles to get the roof on the guest rooms and the main lodge.

Friday
Oct 20
4pm | 3c

You Might Also Like …

See All Shows

Building Off the Grid

Consult Program Guide

Blog Cabin

Mondays 9:30p | 8:30c