Building a Home in Carroll County, AR
The first step to building your dream home in Carroll County is to find the right piece of land. Local realtors can take you around the county and show you acreage, but you can also contact landowners directly. Some rural landowners will even offer owner financing. Land in the Western District is notoriously steep, densely wooded, and rocky. This can make it more difficult to build and to access local utilities. If you have children, you may have trouble establishing a flat yard for them to play in, although treehouses are a common compromise. Low-level valleys and hollows tend to be shaded and damp, and should be thoroughly investigated for flood plains. Mountain-top sites tend to be windy, but can afford some amazing views and often a walk-out basement level. Acreage covered in deciduous trees can be stunning in the fall, although leaf removal can be a chore. Oak leaves are particularly problematic as they do not break down as easily as other deciduous species with smaller leaves. Leaf litter can attract rodents, snakes, and insects. Pine trees, on the other hand, drop needles that boost the acidity of the soil, which keeps the understory from growing out of control. However, that same acidic soil can also make gardening a challenge. Pine trees can also drop large, heavy limbs under snow and wind. These limbs are sometimes called "widowmakers". For these reasons, and for basic fire prevention, FEMA usually recommends a no-tree "safety zone" of 30 feet around the home. However, hot humid summers in Carroll County will usually require that you balance your attempt at fire prevention with your need for shade. Building with fire-resistent materials, like metal roofs, brick and stucco, can help.
Building within city limits will require that you adhere to zoning and stricter building codes. You usually need to pay a "tap fee" to access local utility lines, and this fee can differ greatly from location to location. The city of Eureka Springs also requires many homebuilders to abide by their Historic District guidelines, since the city limits and historic district boundary are nearly identical. If frequent building inspections, municipal red tape, and design guidelines are not your thing, you may be better off building outside of all city limits, where code enforcement is much more relaxed. Of course, building away from the city may require additional costs and sacrifice. You may need to dig your own water well, install a septic system, grade and maintain your own access road, and pay for the extension of electric and gas lines. Digging in Carroll County can be a very time-consuming task, as the soils are very rocky. Utility companies will often opt for unsightly overhead lines and aerial drops rather than burying them underground. You will probably have to pay the additional costs if you want your electrical lines buried and out-of-sight.
Water wells in Carroll County can require very deep drilling, sometimes over 1,000 feet. Drillers generally charge by the foot, and then you will also have to pay for a pump. There is no guarantee that they will hit water, or that your well will never run dry. You may also have to treat and/or filter the water, depending on its quality. Many Carroll County residents, however, boast enthusiastically of the excellent taste and clarity of their well water, fed by the same ancient aquifers that powered the "magical healing springs" that drew so much attention in the late 19th century. You can also search for a natural spring to provide water. Some homebuilders have chosen rainwater collection as an alternative, although during drier months this can require that you truck in additional water for your cistern. If you are considering rainwater collection, your residence will need a large catchment area (usually the roof) and a cistern. Some sort of filtration and water treatment system is required, especially if the water is to be potable. The water should be tested regularly. The catchment area should also be made of a material that will not affect the potability of the water (no asphalt roofing). The karst geology of Carroll County can sometimes pose a problem for septic systems. All septic systems require inspection and permitting from the state, regardless of your location within the county. Some older homes in Carroll County still employ the use of a pit privy, or traditional outhouse. Composting or incinerating toilets may be a more environmentally friendly option.