Building Eureka Yurts and Cabins

House for Sale???

It’s getting real now!!

We met with a realtor in Dallas to discuss what the process would be to put our house on the market.  She walked the house and pointed out some things that we needed to paint, replace, fix or clean. We mostly need to clear out cabinets, closets and counters… expecially since we are going from a 2,800 sqft house to just under 1,000 sqft!  When going over the comps for our neighborhood, she said that the longest that a house was on the market was 9 days and that most were selling in 1 to 4 days.  Let’s see, our yurt build materials dont arrive until October, so where are we going to live if our house sells in July?  We have prayed that God would open the doors he wants us to walk through and shut the doors that are not on the right path.  We had not planned to put our house on the market this soon, but we are stepping out in faith and know that things will work out.  Some of you may think we are crazy, but we are happy living in the moment.  Let us know if you want to move to Frisco, TX 🙂 – Hand scraped hard wood floors, slate floor, updated master bath, new kitchen appliances, lots of trees, sports court and stream water feature in backyard!!


Excavation Plans and Build Sites Selected for Yurt and 1st Rental Cabin

Only 2,073 residents! Good thing there are 700,000 visitors a year to the area!
Only 2,073 residents! Good thing there are 700,000 visitors a year to the area!

We went to Eureka Springs to try to get all the utilities planned and finalize the yurt build site.  It was a very productive trip.  We spoke with Smiling Woods Yurts to confirm our order, went to the tax office in Berryville to get an offical address and stopped by the electric company to get the specs for installing our underground electrical lines. Blake walked in both places and didn’t have to wait in line. In fact he ended up helping the tax office with their computers and then the tax accessor solicited him for a contract.  He said he wasn’t living there yet and she said to contact her when we relocate.

Before we made it back to our property we got a call from the Inspiration Point fire department saying they got a fax about our new address.  No waits and fast service, that definitely wouldn’t happen in Dallas!  The fire station is right down the street from our house lot so we stopped by to introduce ourselves. While there, Blake got recruited to be a volunteer. He told them he was too old and didn’t have any training.  They said, “you will probably be the youngest one here and we will pay for the training!”  He told them he wouldn’t mind volunteering, but he wasn’t comfortable making the life or death decisions of a first responder. They told him to get in touch when we relocate.

Blake and Buck going over excavation plans.
Blake and Buck going over excavation plans.

The next day we met with our excavator, Buck.  He is regarded as the best backhoe operator in the area. We went over general property organization and determined the locations for the underground electrical and underground water lines.  We discussed making the water line trench 3′ wide for a possible closed loop, horizontal georthermal installation. Buck will also clear out some dead trees and prep the build site so it is level. He told us he could also install the septic system and gave us the number for Ken who is the septic guy that Buck prefers to work with.  We contacted Ken and hired him to do the septic system perk test, design and arrange the state inspection.

Now we just have to finalize which company will do the well equipment installation so we can have all the utilities planned.  Right now it is just a capped hole in the ground. Hopefully we can get everything workded out so that Buck can do all the dirt work at one time.

We also went to the property to try to deside where the 1st yurt was going.  We put markers down 3 times before we finally settled on a spot. Jack, our realtor andfriend, helped us stake out the build site and spray paint the 35″ yurt dimensions on the ground.

After we marked the spot we flagged the general area for a second build site that is about 150′ further down on the top ridge.  We will be putting our first rental yurt at this location, hopefully by spring of 2015!

Blake and Jack marking the 1st yurt build site.
Blake and Jack marking the 1st yurt build site.
If you look closely you will see 2 orange flags that mark where the back yard will be. We will have a beautiful dogwood right by the porch.






Eureka Springs; dogwood
Panoramic view or our future backyard. I love the dogwoods in the spring.


We can’t wait to get there and have you come and visit us.

Blake, Melissa, Jenna and Bear

bear; jenna; great pyrenees
Bear and Jenna are worn out after a busy few days.

We have decided on Smiling Woods Yurts for our first cabin

We decided our first yurt would be from Smiling Woods Yurts. If all goes as planned, we hope to be having a yurt rising in October 2014!!! We are planning a trip to Eureka Springs to mark the build location and meet with everyone that needs to do work on the property to get the site ready.

Here are some pictures of Smiling Woods Yurts. The first one show the type of windows we are going to put in the living room. The yurt we are getting will have an exposed wood ceiling like the other pictures below.

Love these windows!
Another option for windows.
Exposed wood ceiling and 5′ skylight.

Exterior view. Ours won’t have a basement.

Attended the Mother Earth News Fair

After checking on the well installation, Blake and I drove up to Lawrence Kansas to attend the Mother Earth News Sustainable Living Fair. We spent two days attending seminars and finding out about a lot of green living products from gardening, aquaponics, heating alternatives, solar power and other green building alternatives. To some this may not sound like fun, but it was the best home and garden fair we have ever attended. You can find out about the 2014 Mother Earth News Fair here so you can make plans to attend!

For our cabins, we have been researching building with structural insulated panels (SIP), Apex blocks or insulated concrete blocks (ICF), compressed earth blocks (CEB), rammed earth, and maybe even cob construction. We also are researching all the different yurt manufacturers. We were glad that Colorado Yurts had a 16′ yurt setup at the fair. It is much better to see and feel the actual yurt instead of just looking at pictures. Most yurts are made with architectural fabric, like this Colorado Yurt, but there are also hard walled yurts. Smiling Woods Yurts makes a hard walled yurt that we really like. Too bad they weren’t at the fair. Deltec Homes was at the fair but didn’t have a miniture version of their prefab, panelized round home for us to tour. They even make a rotating home now!

Colorado Yurts makes Tipis also and had one setup at the fair. The one below is 18′ diameter with 24′ tall poles. It was very spacious inside. We were thinking about putting a yurt and tipi next to each other. Then the older kids can have fun sleeping in a tipi and the parents can have some alone time in the yurt! What do you think about having Tipis for rent?  

The Chickshaw chicken coop was on display!
Ed Begley Jr spoke on green living

We opted for a Commercial well, so full steam ahead.

After much debate, over whether to put in a well for each cabin or put in one well and water treatment equipment that will handle all the cabins, we finally decided to go for the gusto.  So now we have to either add 4 to 6 cabins or we will be the water company for our friends and family who buy a lot on our 30 acres!  Below are images of the well being drilled on October 10, 2013.

We hit water and have great water pressure.

See the water coming out the pipe by his feet.

It doesn’t look like much, but this is our drilled and capped well pipe.
Now we have to build a well house and get all the equipment installed.

Our own personal water treatment plant

Our vision for our Eureka Yurts property has always been to keep it small. We’re thinking a total of six to 10 yurts will give visitors a feeling of being immersed in nature and allow us to run it ourselves, with limited staff. On the surface, doesn’t this sound like a reasonable dream? A manageable undertaking? We thought so, too, but now we’ve run into a roadblock: the well.

We knew we’d have to drill a well. What we didn’t know was that it would have to be asemi-public water system. It is our understanding that if more than 25 people will be using it, you must have this level of a system. We’re talking three, 1000-gallon holding tanks plus a well-house! Call us crazy but it was never our dream to develop our own personal water treatment plant.

We’re still learning and trying to determine if this is truly necessary for our property. Not only is it an enormous project in itself, but it requires a large up-front investment that we were not expecting.

Other than scouting a location for the well, we haven’t started the process yet. When we were out there a week ago, we learned that the location selected previously won’t work – it’s too close to the property line.

Once the well location is finalized, we start by paying a pro to drill in three test spots – making sure to drill down below the limestone shelf – and send the three samples to the state for testing. How long will this take? If the samples pass, we can begin drilling the well in earnest.

In a way, the slowdown caused by the location is frustrating but it also bought us some more time to investigate. Is a semi-public water system really required for our property?

We see ourselves opening the property with, say, three yurts: one for The Proprietors (us) and two for renting out. It will be completely self-run and very low maintenance so we can keep our customers totally happy while we master all the details of running a great property. If we’re starting small like this, might it be acceptable to drill a personal well? Again, we do plan to grow to six to 10 yurts over time. We’re wondering if it’s possible to drill additional wells over time as the property grows, which would probably add up to the same total cost as the semi-public one, but they could be paid for from the property’s income rather than a huge up-front investment.

We love the area around Eureka Springs. And we love the idea of simple yurt living. We want to ready the property in the least complicated, most cost-effective ways so we can get out there and start helping other people enjoy it, too.

Memorial Weekend in Eureka Springs – beautiful views, fishing, swiming, lions, tigers and bears Oh My!

Eureka Springs offers so many things to do and see for the 700,000 people that visit the area each year. Blake and I have been many times since discovering the area, but we still have a lot more to see and do. Below are pictures from downtown Eureka Springs, our fishing trip on the White River, hanging out on a dock on Beaver Lake and visiting Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge.

Downtown Eureka Springs

Hanging out on a dock on Beaver Lake
Our friend JB, Blake and I woke up early to go rainbow trout fishing on the White River with Captain Dave as our guide. The early morning fog made for some great photos.

We also visited Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge which was worth the visit.

Come check out Eureka Springs for yourself. We are sure you will fall in love too!

A road to the lower holler and some build sites cleared!

When were walking the land with the surveyor, we had to walk down a steep, rocky hill to get to the bottom holler.  (A holler (hollow) is a small valley or dry stream bed.)  Buck and Ed put in a road to the lower level and also cleared out some areas to open up the views for future cabin sites. They did an amazing job.

This is the top of the road going to the lower holler.
This is the circular area at the bottom of the road.
You can sort of see where the road starts going back up the hill.
One of the possible cabin locations.
Great spot for a cabin.

I love the dogwood trees on the property.

Surveying the future site of Eureka Yurts and Cabins

We walked some of the 30+ acres off of Hwy 187 to confirm the property lines and to see what the lower ridge was like before signing on the dotted line.  We have a good amount of frontage road if we decide to put some type of commercial building in.  For now we want to put the cabins back further on the property, with lots of space between them so everyone can enjoy the nature around them.  There are lots of spots to build cabins on the upper and lower sections of the land.  Below are some of the photos we took when we surveyed the land.

We have Hwy 187 frontage for easy access.

Eureka Yurts and Cabins walking uppor ridge.
Blake with surveyor at a clearing on the upper ridge of our property.
Surveyor and Jack (our realtor) walking the land.
Road winding through upper Ridge.  If you look behind the trees you will see Jackson, our realtor Jack’s dog, checking out the land with us.

Blake and our realtor Jack Cross at the Eureka Springs Christmas parade.

We are excited about the opportunity and look forward to the day we can have you come hang out in Eureka Springs with us! 

Finding Eureka Springs… Accident or Fate?

Our Eureka Springs journey began with us, Blake and Melissa, searching for a new area to buy property in for our retirement. We had owned land that we loved in Ruidoso, New Mexico, but we sold it in 2007 after finding out that water supplies in New Mexico were very low. This meant there was no guarantee we would hit water when the well was drilled and we may have had to pay to drill again until they hit water.

So Blake did a lot of research, making sure that water would not be a problem this time, then we planned a road trip to checkout possible locations in September 2009. We drove through Oklahoma to check out the Lake Eufala area, got out of the car, looked at each other and we both said “this is not it”. Our next stop was near Rogers, AR where Blake wanted to checkout a neighborhood that was building “green” energy efficient homes near Beaver Lake. We were winging it on places to stay, so I got on the phone to find a place that we could stay at with our 2 great pyrenees, Baron and Jenna.
I found a place a little past Rogers in Eureka Springs West, off of Hwy 187. It was dark when we made it to our cabin, which ended up being a camper, so we crashed for the night. When we woke up and drove around, we were happily suprised with the area. After checking out the green neighborhood near Rogers, we headed back to Eureka Springs West to drive around Beaver Lake. We decided to stay another night, at a different cabin resort, so we could see more of the area and visit downtown Eureka Springs.

Well, we loved the town, Beaver Lake and the White River so we stayed for a few more nights. We even hired a fishing guide that took us to fish for rainbow trout on the White River. We had a great time and we both caught our limit in just a couple of hours.  We didn’t want to leave, but our original plan

was to go to Mountain Home, AR since it was listed in a magazine as the #1 spot to retire for outdoor living. We decided to take the 2 hour drive East to Mountain Home on our next to last day. Even though it was further away from a major highway, we needed to go see the town just in case it was better than Eureka Springs. In our opinion, Mountain Home did not have the charm, activities, convenience or beauty that Eureka Springs had so we headed back to Eureka Springs to checkout more.

We both decided our accidental stop in Eureka Springs ended up being exactly what we were looking for.

Eureka Yurts and Cabins