Thursday, October 23, 2008

Breaking Ground!

It has been a while since our last update, but we are pleased to say that construction of 2 of the 4 green cottage homes has begun this past week! Sonne Ledge is under construction in Edgecomb and Windance Farm is under construction in Boothbay. Our intent is to provide updates throughout construction, highlighting some of the green building techniques and how costs compare to traditional construction.

As design plans have progressed, each home has gone through design changes to fit the specific needs and aesthetic desires of the owners. Check out this rough massing model of Sonne Ledge:

While the floor plans remain largely the same, the exterior has been stream-lined to promote natural ventilation. Windows were placed high to enhance the stack effect, drawing air through the home.

“Hey-Di K-11”

In this photograph, “Hey’Di K-11" has been applied to the top of the concrete footing at Sonne Ledge. Traditional foundation construction typically involves waterproofing of the exterior wall. While this prevents moisture from entering the basement through the sidewalls, it provides no protection for ‘wicking’ of moisture up from the ground, through the footing, into the foundation wall, and ultimately into the wood of the home. Hey’Di K-11, through a crystallization process, grows and fills the capillaries in the concrete creating a waterproof barrier between the footing and the wall.

In addition to waterproofing the exterior foundation walls, another Knickerbocker Group standard practice is the use of foundation drainage panels, similar to the sample shown below (with the gray painted board simulating the foundation):

This system provides protection of the foundation as well as positive drainage and insulation. The board (or grid, depending on brand) acts as a drainage medium, allowing moisture and water to drain vertically down to the footer drain, and preventing hydrostatic pressure from building up on the foundation walls. The insulation also keeps foundation wall temperatures closer to the air temperature of the basement, which helps reduce interior condensation. Reduced condensation ensures less humid, more comfortable basement space and helps deter mold and mildew.

Coming Soon…

Next week, an insulated concrete form (ICF) foundation is going in at the Sonne Ledge site. In addition to action photos of the install and a description of some of the benefits of ICFs, we will put together a comparison of the concrete vs. ICF construction cost estimates.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Knickerbocker Cottage Homes

We have added a link, "Cottage Home Designs", with information on the four green Cottage Homes that were presented at the Energy Expo in April: Crow's Nest, Northwind, Sonne Ledge and Windance Farm. Our primary design goal for each Cottage Home is to blend the qualities of a classic Maine cottage with state-of-the-art technologies in order to achieve sustainable, energy-efficient and healthy homes that can also be affordably constructed. Our ultimate goal is to offer these plans for sale to the public, in an effort to take the guess-work out of a building an affordable green home and encourage more mainstream use of green construction techniques.

By using simple classic Maine forms and efficient construction techniques, the Cottage Homes are cost-effective to build while still offering the quality of construction that signifies a Knickerbocker home. Heating systems, air sealing and insulation techniques are considered in a “whole home” approach that minimizes energy usage and heat loss while maximizing healthy indoor air quality. While each of the four Cottage Home designs are unique, they all share the following features and benefits:

Advanced design techniques

  • Maximizes efficient space while minimizing circulation space
  • Use of open floor plan with flexible spaces to support multiple uses

Advanced construction techniques

  • Efficient framing techniques (e.g., alignment of rafters/studs, trusses, 2-stud corners)
  • Reduces amount of wood and improves energy efficiency
  • Minimizes waste

Steeply pitched roof,
no dormers

  • Traditional Maine architectural elements
  • Maximizes solar panel efficiency
  • Simple and efficient framing

Narrow home width set lengthwise on east-west axis

  • Best roof orientation for solar panels
  • Maximizes southerly exposure and solar gain in living spaces
  • Lends itself easily to modular construction
  • Open plan and long views increase sense of spaciousness

Living spaces with large windows on south side

  • Abundant natural light in all living spaces
  • Passive solar heating
  • “Brise soleil” can be used to control winter/summer sun exposure
  • Use of high performance glazing

Utility spaces with minimal glazing on north side

  • Physical separation between public spaces (street) and living spaces
  • Appropriate usage of smaller and fewer windows on north side
  • Windows promote natural interior air circulation by taking advantage of prevailing wind patterns

Masonry heater with granite/ soapstone surround

  • Super-efficient European style masonry heater
  • Can heat a 1,500 - 2,000 s.f. home
  • Heart of the home – thermal mass radiates heat from a central location

Super-tight, super-insulated building envelope

  • Use of technologically advanced air sealing and insulation techniques
  • “Energy audit” testing assures that all homes meet ASHRAE standards

High efficiency primary and/or secondary heat sources

  • Propane or oil high efficiency boiler w/radiant heat as primary heat source
  • Geothermal, active & passive solar &/or masonry heater as secondary heat source

Mechanical ventilation

  • Energy-efficient energy recovery ventilator (ERV) heats and humidifies fresh, ventilated air
  • Ensures proper indoor air quality
  • Balances air pressure in a tightly built home

Exterior finishes

  • Traditional Maine architectural elements: cedar shingles, board & batten, and cement board siding, metal roofing
  • Locally harvested & milled lumber
  • Environmentally friendly product choices

Interior finishes

  • Environmentally friendly product choices

Site / landscaping

  • Plan can be adapted to a variety of sites
  • Thoughtful site selection minimizes impact of clearing and grading
  • Use of native species and environmentally-friendly products in landscape gardens

Reuse / Recycle

  • Use of reclaimed lumber from site as columns or other architectural features
  • Recycle at least 75% of waste
  • Gray water system for water conservation

We will continue to add new information and details as the Cottage Home designs progress. Please feel free to share your comments or suggestions!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Midcoast Sustainable Energy Expo

As a follow-up to all of you who attended the Midcoast Sustainable Energy Expo, we wanted to say thank you for stopping by our booth and sharing your comments. We had wonderful conversations with so many of you and were pleased with all of the energy and excitement for the green home design concepts. These green homes are truly 'on the drawing board' and so it is very helpful to receive comments and suggestions at such an early stage so that the final product will be even better! We are hoping the design phase can continue to be interactive and we will send out periodic updates as we make progress or gain new information. Please feel free to post comments to this blog or email me directly if you have any questions at:

Thanks again for your interest and support!

Photographs from the Midcoast Sustainable Energy Expo at the Damariscotta YMCA, April 18 and 19, 2008:

Monday, March 31, 2008 talk, April 8: Geothermal Energy

People are sometimes surprised to learn that geothermal or “ground heat” energy is available in Maine as a low cost energy source for heating and cooling. In fact, Maine’s subsurface rock structure is uniquely suited for very low cost heating from geothermal sources.

In Maine, the most convenient form of ground coupling uses a well, which may also be the well providing domestic water to the residence. This dual use of the same well significantly reduces the installation cost of the geothermal system. With existing domestic wells, both new construction and geothermal retrofits may have already paid for half of their heating systems, right there in their own back yards.

Geothermal systems also have much lower operating costs (as low as 1/4 to 1/8 the cost of traditional oil and propane heating sources, respectively), giving a quick payback on the investment. As the cost of fossil fuel will undoubtedly continue to rise, this payback time will decrease even further.

Please join us at the April 8th talk to learn why new geothermal system deployment in Maine has been growing at a rate of over 30% per year. Dr. John Logan, Regional Director for Water Energy Distributors, Inc., will discuss the costs-benefits of a geothermal system as an environmentally-friendly energy recycling heat source for today’s homes.

Knickerbocker Group would like to invite homeowners, builders, architects, designers, mechanical contractors, and all others interested in learning more about geothermal energy systems. The event is free to the community and light snacks will be provided. The presentation will be held on Tuesday April 8th in the bar room at the Opera House, from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. followed by a social hour from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Please contact Danielle Betts at the Knickerbocker Group for more information: 633-6563 or

Friday, February 29, 2008 talk, March 11: Emerging Trends in Green Building Products

Sifting through the latest green building products is not an easy task! The last few years have seen a tremendous rise in the availability, diversity and affordability of environmentally friendly products and materials. The challenge is narrowing that search to find sustainable products that have both excellent performance and reasonable, competitive prices.

Join us at the March talk to learn about some of today’s most innovative and cost-effective building materials from one of Maine’s top green building suppliers. Don Skeffington, of Maine Green Building Supply, will present an overview of new products, from UltraTouch recycled cotton textile insulation, Paperstone (a recycled paper countertop material), to Apricus Solar Hot Water Systems and Hallowell Acadia All Climate heating and cooling systems. This will be a hands-on meeting with several products and mock-ups available for review and discussion. Don will also highlight the State and Federal Tax Incentive programs and provide a guide for easily accessing and applying for these incentives. This will be an open forum, with ample opportunity for questions and discussion.

Knickerbocker Group would like to invite homeowners, builders, architects, designers, mechanical contractors, and all others interested in learning more about sustainable building. The event is free to the community and light snacks will be provided. The presentation will be held on Tuesday March 11th in the bar room at the Opera House, from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. followed by a social hour from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Please contact Danielle Betts at the Knickerbocker Group for more information: 633-6563 or

Friday, February 1, 2008 talk series continues on February 12th at the Opera House

Knickerbocker Group is proud to present this month’s talk “PUSHING THE BUILDING ENVELOPE: Best Practices for Energy Efficient, High Performance Buildings”. Improving energy efficiency of buildings has never been more crucial with the dramatic increases in oil prices, wider acceptance of the problem of peak oil, and concern over global warming. While there is great interest and glamour in alternate sources of energy like solar or bio-heat, a building’s outer shell, or “building envelope”, is the determiner of how much energy is required to keep the interior comfortable for its occupants. Maximizing the performance of the building envelope can dramatically reduce the demand for energy, whatever the source.

Richard Riegel Burbank, founder of Evergreen Home Performance LLC, will introduce the concept of the building envelope and how it is a crucial detail for achieving energy efficiency in any new construction or renovation project. He will focus on the state of the art practices that integrate a well insulated, air tight building envelope with ventilation for good indoor air quality.

Richard will also demonstrate how high-tech diagnostic tools, including the infrared camera and the blower door, can help assess the performance of a building envelope. During the event, these tools will be demonstrated on the Boothbay Harbor Opera House to show lack of insulation in the walls and air leakage through the building. Some recent projects in new construction and retrofit will be presented including a new super efficient dormitory project at College of the Atlantic, a local home energy and building performance renovation project, and an elementary school air leakage reduction project.

Knickerbocker Group would like to invite homeowners, builders, architects, designers, mechanical contractors, and all others interested in learning more about sustainable building. The event is free to the community and light snacks will be provided. The presentation will be held on Tuesday February 12th in the bar room at the Opera House, from 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. followed by a social hour from 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Please contact Danielle Betts at the Knickerbocker Group for more information: 633-6563 or

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Introduction to Knickerbocker Group

The Knickerbocker Group offers quality design and construction services from concept to completion.

Based in Boothbay, Maine for over a quarter of a century, we have consistently completed projects recognized for their innovation and excellence throughout the coastal region.

Our Mission

Knickerbocker Group’s mission is to meet our clients’ expectations by creating the finest quality building using the combined power of vision and craftsmanship.

Our Philosophy

Building design is an organic process involving owner, architect and builder in an ongoing conversation. In that regard, architecture is as much about communication as it is about construction.

As the plans are drawn, the vision changes; as a building takes shape, the vision becomes refined. Successful projects require an understanding of the dynamics that alter the vision, and we come to each project prepared to adjust the process without diminishing the quality of the product. It requires careful management of the owner-architect-builder discussion to ultimately deliver the client’s dream.

The Knickerbocker Family


While the varied disciplines of the Knickerbocker Group offer an efficient "one stop shop" for those who combine all of our services, we regularly cater to those who prefer to employ only one or some of our divisions.

Knickerbocker Design

We provide complete professional design and planning services to guide you through your project. The scope can include any of the following:

  • Complete homes
  • Additions
  • Major & minor renovations
  • Kitchens & Baths
  • Architectural Woodworking
  • Site Planning & Civil Engineering
  • Environmental & Regulatory Permitting

Our “style” is truly your vision. We pride ourselves in creating owner-driven designs based on images and lifestyle preferences you convey to us. Many of our projects have a shingle/cottage/Maine coastal theme because that is frequently the ideal of our client. The most exciting part of our work is discovering your dreams and finding a way to make them real.

Boothbay Home Builders

Boothbay Home Builders was established in 1978, and has spent the last quarter century building a reputation for constructing distinctive custom homes throughout Midcoast Maine. Today, over 20 highly skilled carpenters, supported by a full-time office staff, combine craftsmanship with professional fiscal management to deliver a quality product on time, and within budget.

  • Complete homes
  • Additions & Renovations
  • Light Commercial
  • Construction Management

Our experience has allowed us to build strong relationships with all subcontracted trades required in a construction project. We are happy to work with the plumbers, electricians, etc. that are already familiar to you and with your property; we can recommend those we feel will be the best fit for you; or we can bid among several.

Knickerbocker Woodworking

A beautiful home's exterior is important, but life is lived inside. The interior is where we eat, sleep, entertain and unwind. Established as a logical spin-off of Boothbay Home Builders in 1985, Knickerbocker Woodworking has become known throughout New England for its exquisite architectural woodwork products.

  • Kitchens
  • Baths
  • Dens
  • Libraries
  • Custom furniture
  • Paneling
  • Bookcases
  • Entertainment centers
  • Fireplace mantels

Custom interiors are extensions of the people who inhabit them. Our team of talented designers and craftsman can create custom woodwork and cabinetry to fit specific needs-whether in a traditional Maine coast cottage, or the salon of a boat. Capturing the essence of the design is what we have been doing for two decades. This experience, combined with our appreciation of Maine’s time-honored styles and rich architectural heritage, ensures a vision is crafted beautifully.

Knickerbocker Home Services

We appreciate the investment you have in your home and are committed to helping you maintain its value and comfort. We provide services and solutions that can improve how you live and play in your home, whether it be seasonal or year round.

  • Reliable Caretaking
    • Opening/Closing properties
    • Periodic Inspections
    • Fully Bonded
  • Home Maintenance and Repairs
    • Carpentry/Odd Jobs
    • Interior/Exterior Painting
  • Seasonal Services
    • Lawncare/Gardening
    • Snow Removal
  • Comprehensive Property Management
    • Complete Coordination
  • Customized Services
    • Cleaning, Shopping, Dock Maintenance
  • Professional Service and Support from the Knickerbocker Group companies offering over 25 years of experience.

We recognize that each property is unique and look forward to tailoring a plan to best meet your needs. Your peace of mind is our priority.

Member of the United States Green Building Council

P.O. Box 142, Boothbay, ME 04537

Tel: 207.633.3818 * Fax: 207.633.3963