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Code of the West
Some thoughts about Black Hills Rural Living plus a link to the Pennington County “Code of the West” . While not exactly like city living, it offers some special benefits and a beautiful environment. Whether you buy existing homes or build, there are some things to know:
  1. Consider year-around access. Who maintains the roads (Forest Service, private or public)?
  2. Are utilities easily available and affordable?
  3. Is school bus transportation available?
  4. Access for medical and fire protection.
  5. Are there mineral rights needed or required?
  6. Is the property surveyed and divided out by platted parcels?
  7. Covenants. What is permitted? Designed to protect your interest and value.
  8. Perc tests about soil drainage and stability.
  9. Ease and reliability of water/access.
  10. Proper site platting, covenants, easements, and more. (As a builder once told me, “Do it right – measure twice and cut once.”)
  11. Consider Mother Nature also has a hand in successful country living.
  12. The previous items (and even more – don’t forget radon and covenants!) are all for buyers’ investors’ developer’s and builders’ benefits to make the projects easier and better.
“Code of the West”
Additional Thoughts
As a Designer (hundreds of plans over the years), Builder and Realtor, I know the problems that can develop from inexperience and inattention. Just a few examples:
  1. I suggested to a builder that he should check with a well-drilling company before drilling, but he chose a water witch with a stick to pick the spot for his well. It turned out to be a basin in a rock formation which went dry in a week. Cost? He had to run a water line hundreds of feet to a real water source.
  2. I built a custom home for a client on a large rural lot. A friend of his wanted to buy the remaining lot farther to the southeast and build. There was not any existing road to the other lot, but his friend said he shouldn’t worry. “I’ll give you an easement over the east end of my lot.” Based on that, the second party built a new home and used that access. When the friend sold and moved to Las Vegas, the new buyer did not allow use of the non--existent access easement and a new and expensive road had to be built around the corner to the southeast.
  3. An out-of-town buyer purchased a large acreage west of town and sold legally-platted and surveyed lots to his friends, keeping the last “view” lot for himself. Since there was no easement to that lot, he was not able to add an “after-the-fact easement” on the remaining lot. Bad news, but his other buyers didn’t want him to build there and block their grand view . . . .
  4. Rural Septic Systems
    1. As a builder, I always put in an extra tank (two total) and an extra-large drain field in soil based on a good perc rate. Some builders would put in a minimal tank and pipe the runoff over a cliff or to the ground below.
    2. I designed and constructed a custom home in a preferred area. We installed a swimming pool (among other good things) and that family was more than happy. Another custom home was built along a higher road by someone else. Soon after that, I got a call from my client because water (?) was flowing into their pool from the lot above. (Do not slope a drain field with waste runoff into thy neighbor’s pool!)
    3. I had an opportunity to list a tourist lodge along a creek. We were not interested and advised the owner to comply with the code concerning water pollution.
  5. We haven’t told all the stories about infractions and tales of woe and many other concerns. Just make it easy for all parties in real estate and have them conform to the rules and regulations. They are not punishment but just a way to produce good results from following the rules (codes).
The news about country living is that it’s great if you get answers first and not wait for surprises. As a Settler family, we spent years as Lumbermen, Builders, and Realtors and followed the rules and government regulations with good results for our clients. Just remember to do it right the first time!

Gil Raben - Owner Broker
Contacts: Email
1-605-342-7272 Local Phone
Members: Black Hills & National Association of Realtors
Rapid City Chamber of Commerce
Raben Real Estate Corner of 3rd & Main Street 401 3rd street
Mail: Raben Real Estate PO Box 1279 Rapid City, SD 57703

401 - 3rd St.
Rapid City, SD 57701
Licensed in SD - Members: Black Hills and National Association of Realtors, Rapid City Multiple Listing Service, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association