Building on GRR

Building on the Ranch is obviously different than living in a city or the suburbs.  You can't hook up to municipal water, sewer, cable TV, DSL, or gas. The roads are unpaved, and will remain so. Power goes out frequently enough that you need battery back-up for your computer and any other key electronics. Some people go as far as putting in a back-up generator. You need to remember that your well pump won't function when the electricity is out. When you shop or need medical services, you will have to drive to Manhattan, Belgrade, or Bozeman. These are all compromises that should be obvious to anyone who purchases property on GRR.  
If you plan to build on GRR you need to be familiar with the Covenants of GRR. Your plans have to comply with the Covenants. Article III discusses easements and water rights.  Article VI, VII and VIII are very specific about the architectural requirements, building and use requirements, and enforcement of the Covenants.   You have to submit your plans including a site plan to the Architectural Review Committee (ARC), through its Chairperson.
The ARC's duty is to review your home and site plan to make sure they are in compliance with the Covenants. If you need a variance, you need to indicate that to the ARC and the Board of Directors. Ultimately, any variances need Board approval. You cannot begin building until your plans are approved by the ARC.  There is a time line in which your project must be completed after you receive ARC approval. Your project must be complete within 18 months after construction begins, including any excavation. Your general contractor is responsible for meeting this deadline, or applying for extension if necessary. If you are your own general contractor, you have the same obligation.  
Things to know:  
    • POWER AND PHONE LINES: Make sure you have power and phone lines to your property, and think about the location of the boxes relative to your planned home site. Running long lines gets expensive. If you plan to not have a phone and do wireless voice over internet phone service, you should make sure your site has good wireless service.  There are dead zones on the Ranch. 
Make sure your general contractor is experienced with rural building.  
  • SEPTIC SYSTEM: You will need a septic system on the Ranch. The soil around the GRR generally perks well, and there have been no significant problems with the ability to locate septic systems. There may be some areas in some sites where this could be a problem.  
Think about what is below the surface. That glorious view from the rock ridge may look great when you stand on it, but building a house there may require extensive blasting to build a foundation.  
We are in an area of seismic activity. Your home has to meet local seismic standards.    
Your contractor is responsible for keeping the worksite clean and to prevent your supplies or trash from blowing away into neighboring property. The contractor cannot burn waste at the site. Review the Covenants regarding other specifics. You or your contractor may be fined for violations, so be aware of these issues. The contractor is also responsible for the driving and behavior of his workers and those of the sub-contractors.  
    • WELL AND WATER STORAGE: You will need a well. Some neighbors share one well together with good results. GRR wells range from 350-1000 feet in depth. Some have used a douser to locate the wells, but there is debate about the value of dousers. Your contractor or well driller will provide you with a groundwater certificate. Many residents install cisterns; some hold well water for use in the domestic water system as well as landscape irrigation. Others are not connected to the domestic system and are used only for landscape irrigation or as storage in case of a fire. The well contractors are the primary cistern installers. Water is a critical commodity in our dry climate, and this should guide landscaping choices.  
    • WATER CONDITIONING: Well water on GRR has a high mineral content, in other words, it is very hard. A water softener is a must. Even the softened water may have a mineral taste. Most residents install a central reverse osmosis water filtration system for drinking water. Central systems can supply drinking water to separate taps in the kitchen and bathrooms, as well as refrigerator ice makers.    
    • Building disturbs the land and vegetation. You will have to replant the area around your house with either grass or native grasses. This area will be weed-infested in the interim. You are responsible for noxious weed control on your property. It is a good idea to consider how you repair the vegetation relative to the creation of a fire break zone around your new home.  
    • You will be living in a rural area. Get to know your neighbors. If you live part-time on the Ranch, you should let your neighbors know when you will or will not be home.  You may want to consider a security system with smoke detectors. You need to make sure your alarm system provider calls 911 for fire and security breaches.