Ripples Hill FAQs

Where is the Ripples Hill property located? 

The land is located on the Beech Hill Road, approximately 1,500 feet in from the intersection with the Pretty Marsh Road.  It is within the village of Somesville, about ¼ mile from the firehouse.  The Town of Mount Desert gave the 10-acre property to IHT.  Many years prior, the Rockefeller family donated this property (as part of a larger tract) to the Town for the express purpose of creating workforce housing.  The Town, by deeding the land to IHT, is helping fulfill the original intentions of the gift – and a long-standing community need in the Town and on MDI.

How many houses will be built? 

Nineteen houses have been authorized to be built at the Ripples Hill site over several years.   The houses are modest-sized, energy efficient, three- and four-bedroom homes that are located on small lots and clustered near neighborhood streets.  More than half of the 10-acre site will remain wooded or open space.  Through May 2016, six houses had been completed on the first lots that comprise Phase 1 and two additional houses had been completed on two of the three lots ready for building in Phase 2. 

Who lives there?   

This is a workforce housing project that is targeted to middle-income individuals and families employed on Mount Desert Island.  To qualify, applicants commit to living in the house year-round, and at least one adult member of the household must work on MDI.  Successful applicants will need to qualify for bank financing.  Annual household income for qualified applicants should not exceed $74,040 for a family of 4 or fewer (although households with higher incomes may qualify if they meet certain other criteria).  On average, homeowners at Ripples Hill have household incomes at or below 120% or AMI for Maine for 2016.

 Where do the homeowners work?  

Our current homeowners include employees at the Mount Desert Elementary School, The Jackson Laboratory, MDI High School, LARK Studio, MDI Hospital, for several local churches and non-profits, and Acadia National Park.

How much will each Ripples Hill house cost? 

The base house costs about $218,000 with available options (e.g., a second bathroom, small addition, additional bedroom) that would raise the cost if selected.  IHT raised more than $800,000 to underwrite virtually all of the infrastructure costs for Phases 1 and 2 that these costs do not have to be added to the cost of constructing the Ripples Hill houses.

How does the Ripples Hill design/build process work?

IHT sells qualified applicants a lot at a nominal price.  The applicant works with IHT, the project architect and the general contractor to design and plan the construction of their house, which is based on the Ripples Hill house design developed by architect John Gordon.  Once options and modifications have been agreed upon by the lot buyer and the general contractor, a contract is drawn up and the lot buyer submits an application to a bank for construction loan financing.  Once the loan is closed, IHT manages the construction process as the homeowner’s representative under the terms of a limited power of attorney agreement.  Upon completion of the approximately five-month building period, the owner is issued a certificate of occupancy by the Town of Mount Desert and the owners move in to their new house.

How does IHT keep these houses affordable to MDI workers? 

IHT includes “affordability covenants” in each deed.  These “housing easements” (which IHT upholds and enforces over time) will restrict the resale price of the house to keep it affordable to the MDI workforce.  Our goal is to ensure that the original subsidies that made the house and lot affordable to the first homeowner will remain in the property, and thus make it affordable to all homebuyers within the same workforce market for generations to come.   

Are Ripples Hill homeowners able to realize some appreciation on their investment if they sell their home?  

Yes.  Homeowners build a limited amount of equity in the home, including the cost of improvements. Their rising equity will be tied to the annual rate of change in wages over the period of time they own the home, rather than real estate market trends, which have no relationship to affordability and workers’ wages.

Why are the houses“green” and energy efficient?  Is this adding considerable cost to the project?  

IHT’s board of directors feels very strongly that it has an important responsibility -- to the public at large and the homebuyers -- to build houses that are sustainable in their choice of building materials and energy efficient.  An energy efficient house is not only good for the earth and our consumption of limited resources, but it has the added benefit of being more affordable on an annual basis to heat and maintain. Ripples Hill is a model development in Maine -- not only for its affordability but also for its progressive design that makes homebuyers proud. 

Base House Specifications

1.    Wood-frame, 1,304-sf, two-story house built on 4-foot, 6-inch high foundation (crawl space).  Foundation is constructed from Insulated Concrete Forms.  Crawl space is fully accessible from first floor of house.  (Optional bulkhead access to out-of-doors also is available at additional cost.)

2.    All materials and construction design meets Maine State Housing Authority’s Green Building Standards.

3.    Attic has blown-in insulation with an R-value of 50; walls have blown-in insulation with R-value of 24, plus an inch of rigid insulation with an R-value of 5.  (Once the house is framed up and enclosed, it is subjected to a blower-door test to ensure it is sealed against air infiltration.)

4.    Roofing is 30-year multi-layer architectural asphalt shingles; Siding is wood-grain finish, fiber-cement clapboards by James Hardie.  Windows Marvin All-Ultrex Series Integrity single-hung windows, factory installed with Low-E II-Argon gas.

5.    First floor living area is pre-finished hardwood (2-1/4 or 3-1/4 inch wide).  Mudroom and bathroom have glazed ceramic floor tile.  Second floor is painted ½” plywood. (An upgrade option is pre-finished hardwood for second floor.)

6.    All interior paints are Zero VOC emission. 

7.    Heating system:  Base unit heating system is one Rinnai direct vent wall furnace Model ES-38 or equivalent located on an exterior wall in the first floor living room and the second is a Model ES-22 or equivalent in the upstairs master bedroom. Alternative heating system is an electric heat pump system, featuring a mini-split unit on the first floor with an option of a second such unit or electric baseboard heat on the second floor

8.    Water is supplied to each house by a drilled well. 

9.    Houses are connected to town sewer system.

10. Base house price starts at $218,000.

11. Regular options:  Half-bath first floor; exterior crawl space access through bulkhead; alcove in living room on first floor; second floor hardwood flooring upgrade; ground floor rear or side deck addition or ground floor additional bedroom/office addition or expanded kitchen space.

12. Customizations are permitted providing they do not grow the house out of affordability.