Facts about the founder…
Raised by a single mom in a low income, “below the tracks” Montreal neighbourhood and a reluctant graduate of the “school of hard-knocks”, Al Barnes has been in continuous pursuit of improvement for many years – for himself and his surroundings.
“Having been raised in an area where folks generally had very little, you had to learn to make the best of, be grateful for and appreciate everything if you were going to move forward and be happy”.
“Discovering (and learning to use) the Laws of Attraction and Vibration has had a huge impact on my life. It wasn’t always a smooth or easy road by any means”.
Al knows that the best of everything is at the highest frequencies and although disappointed that he didn’t learn it earlier on in life, he’s all about being happy now and one of his biggest passions is helping others.
He’s had more than his fair share of grief and setbacks but his understanding that everything IS possible has been life-changing, and now he shares his good fortune with everyone he can.
For much of his youth, he was known as “the kids who takes everything apart” and could most often be found at home or in a scrap yard, disassembling things to figure out how they worked, how to fix them and how to improve upon them. Unlike many others, he rarely had spare parts after reassembling anything. He started his first business building bicycles from broken/discarded ones and parts found here and there. He’d sandblast, re-paint, re-build, apply new decals and sell them in order to buy new ones for himself or invest in other projects that interested him, ever thirsty for the next.
Al’s knowledge and industry experience, the sum of 40+ years of being integral to things great & small, and THOUSANDS of residential and commercial projects in one discipline or another. His constant collaboration with owners/investors, builders, professionals, trades, adults and children alike have given him insight like no other.
As a handyman and service-person alone he has seen and dealt with almost anything you can imagine with particular regard to homes/buildings; so he knows what has been done (and gone wrong) and how to make it right (or prevent it to begin with). He is a “Multipotentialite/Polymath” also known as a Renaissance man, and is a go-getter with a work ethic that is rarely seen today.
Having an inquisitive mind and passion for things that just work right, Al has questioned and challenged the status quo right from an early age. He has gathered a monumental amount of information in a broad range of interests through various courses, the internet and personal mentoring by astute, innovative and seasoned authorities from around the globe. No matter his endeavour, Al thinks and delivers quality with injections of creativity, heart, mind and soul.
Positions he’s held through professional and personal employ: Builder, Contractor, Decorator, Designer, Handyman, Inspector, Marketer, Mentor, Project Planner/Coordinator/Manager, Salesperson, Supervisor, Technician, Trainer, and CEO among numerous others.
His work has been predominantly in the fields of; Residential and Commercial Audiovisual and Control Systems, Electronic and Hardware Security (Intrusion prevention, Closed Circuit TV, Access Control, Integrated Systems and Locksmith Services), Connectivity and Communications (Cellular, Telecom/Fiber-optic Internet/Network, Cable & Satellite TV), Sustainability (solar/wind/water power generation, solar air/water heating, water
purification/storage), Building Construction (design, foundation, framing, interior & exterior envelope, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, roofing,etc), Renovation and Inspection.
At school he majored (and excelled in) Technical Drawing, Automotive Mechanics/Body Shop and Welding.
His interests include many varied trades and areas of agri/aqua culture, architecture, farming, mechanics, metal-work, psychology, physiology, philosophy, science and technology, space, sustainability and anything to do with homes.
With such a diversified background and list of interests, Al’s had plenty of opportunity to live in, work in, study and embrace many different cultures and geographical areas, affording him great personal growth and the ability to indulge in and share many of his passions. He is always encouraging, enlightening, learning from and teaching people from all walks of life.
Al successfully operated a small business as a general contractor/handyman/building inspector for over 13 years, recently terminating it in order to establish Al Barnes Consulting (ABC), because he understands that although there is a myriad of people in the Building and Renovation Industry, there aren’t enough who possess the combination of knowledge, experience, insight and ability to advise the adventurous “do-it-yourself’ers” or those with diverse/discerning tastes.
Those who want something special, individual/different but who haven’t the wherewithal to go about it (or how to do so without the grief and aggravation that usually goes along with it), need to contact ABC.
An entrepreneur, inventor and thinker, he is always seeking new direction, products, technology and innovation to aid him in being of even greater service and value to his clients, family, friends and the planet.
In 2014 Al lived 9 months in Belize, Central America, in an Off-Grid home owned by a friend, which was both an awakening and a priceless experience that has forever changed his personal and business acumen. He quickly learned that living and working in a tropical, developing country was extremely different from what he was used to back home in Canada and required a great deal of consideration and planning, not to mention a completely different attitude toward different cultures, the planet and sustainable living.
The project/home he worked/lived in was designed by a Canadian and built by locals (he being the exception). His connection to the project originally was that of security & communications consultant and technician.
Although the plans were made well in advance, he was brought on site late in the project’s time-line as the security equipment was expensive, not replaceable locally, and sensitive to damage from construction mishaps (and like everything else – prone to theft). Soon after his arrival he discovered that the project was behind schedule, and that much of its afflictions were due to insufficient collaboration/communication between the owners, designer, and builder/contractor(s). Both minor, and major details had been ill-conceived and/or omitted altogether due to lack of knowledge/research by the involved parties.
“No assessment of the proposed tenants or location had been performed and it was quite apparent that a firm grasp of their wants/needs was missing, let alone a firm grip of the materials and technologies to be used or the effect that the location would have on the project as a whole. A fatal combination” he says.
After contacting the owners (who had full knowledge of his background in various related industries) to inform them of the deficiencies, Al was immediately entrusted to oversee the project to its completion. It was a daunting task to say the least, but with determination and perseverance he achieved what was required of him. That said, due to poor planning at the outset, earlier cost overruns, material loss and weather delays, the final product would end up taking a few more years to reach the owners ultimate pinnacle of perfection.
Al has to date, conversed at length with more than 40 North Americans who have built in Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, and Trinidad/Tobago who recounted horror stories about their building/renovation projects. He visited dozens of homes during his stint in Belize and was quite surprised at the poor designs and lack of foresight in the builds. From his personal calculations, 75% had presumed that their designer/builder (both Local and North American) would know and take care of everything; but most had failed miserably. Many builders, contractors/subcontractors failed their clients miserably in his opinion. Some charging 50 to over 100% more than the original agreed price (although most ranged from 40-75% more), and the finished products left much to be desired. Some homeowners “lost their shirts” altogether due to overages and lack of immediate financing (or time) to complete the work, leaving Mother Nature to wreak havoc on the existing unfinished structures (not to mention health and relationship issues related to the ill-fated projects).
Q: Are there projects that go smoothly, with no grief?
A: “Yes, but honestly, it’s a rarity, those are few and far between”.
He has personally witnessed numerous unfinished projects sitting on vacant lots with “For Sale” signs, concrete structures crumbling due to the salty air rusting/corroding the inner steel skeleton (due to unprotected, porous cement) and untreated wooden structures collapsing from rot and termite infestation. Regardless of the fact that local labor is cheap and that there are plenty of raw materials available, the process of tearing down and re-building (or selling the property with a partially completed, decaying structure) can be quite expensive, not to mention time consuming.
Nowadays there are more and more North American and European builders available in the area and the locals builders are upping their game. Things are looking up, but many builders still aren’t up to snuff on issues with tropical building customs/techniques, materials and technologies, and many projects still suffer from “Island time”. If you’ve ever been to the Caribbean you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Some homeowners have even had to deal with lengthy land title disputes because numerous real-estate firms/people claimed title to the same property that had lain dormant for years. Without a doubt, the governments in many developing countries seem to have difficulty keeping accurate records of property ownership.
The onus is definitely on the owners to do their own extensive research and get seriously on-board, and/or outsource the work to experienced, competent professionals who can do this in their sleep.
Al is a huge proponent of Sustainable Living, the Eco-friendly, low carbon footprint lifestyle (although he’s not always been that way) and every year he does more to reduce his negative impact on the planet, the source of everything we need to survive.
His many years in the North American Construction Industry has only furthered his belief that North Americans (typically) are very wasteful. Far too many times for his liking he would tear apart portions of peoples’ home/workplace (often in perfectly good working order/condition) because someone didn’t like the style/color/age of something or just because they wanted to “keep up with the Joneses”. Load, after load of perfectly good materials destroyed and taken to landfill. He says, “Occasionally some was recycled, but not nearly often enough. Energy and resources are wasted at an incredible rate, such as driving big engine vehicles when one could walk and lighting up entire homes (inside and out) when there is nobody home. Clearing natural ecosystems (which require next to no maintenance/water) to put in grass (which requires incredible amounts of maintenance/water) and leaving little or no place for displaced creatures. It’s sad, and it’s not sustainable“.
Having visited and lived in a few developing countries, Al has seen how poor North American habits are rubbing off on their cultures, and how the beautiful, vibrant and natural lands are quickly being raped, pillaged & polluted.
“We travel to these locations to enjoy the climate, breathe the clean air and stand in awe of the natural beauty, yet we are quick to demand that the native peoples adapt to our wants/needs so that we may be comfortable during our stay. In turn, destroying the nature and their culture in the process, along with their way of life and the sustainable habits which have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Our technology rarely makes better lives; more often than not it pollutes, expends resources, decimates species and lengthens our lifespans so that we can overpopulate and continue the circle of destruction at an exponential rate”.
Al’s decision to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle and to guide/assist others to follow suit stems from wanting humanity to survive, but in a healthy, natural way. It is also (for him) a necessary step in returning to a more simple, less stressed and healthier life. To help offset their own carbon footprints and promote sustainability, he and his wife purchased a farm on prime Canadian agricultural land in South-eastern Ontario. They are also part of the 50 Million Tree Project, to help balance climate change and reestablish homes for birds and other displaced critters. Beekeeping and Aquaponic gardening are also in their future.
“Do yourself and generations to come a favour, build (if not live) sustainably, it will slow the process of destruction to the planet that may (if we continue with our poor current trends) eventually bring an end to humanity as we know it”.
This following article is right on the money…
Let Al and ABC help you to fulfill your goals to build better, live better, and enjoy a happier and more sustainable life.