Custom Builder of the Year Follows Pod Model

Visnic Homes turns to a convenient on-site energy source to satisfy its high-end clientele.

Visnic Homes, the NAHB's 2011 Custom Builder of the Year, couldn't satisfy many of its high-end clients if it weren't for propane. These are people who insist on cooking with a flame, desire fireplaces that turn on via remote, and want to enjoy efficient heating of their swimming pools and spas year-round.

The fact that many of these homes are located along the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and on some of its more pristine islands, doesn't faze them a bit. That's where propane comes in.

"One of the greatest compliments we get [from our clients] is that they don't think twice about using propane," Paul Lobien, vice president of Rockville, Md.–based Visnic Homes, says. "The installation and utility of propane is very trouble-free. We have no problems."

One home in particular, which the builder calls the Kent Island Estate, shows the myriad ways propane can be used in a home. Coming in at a cool 22,000 square feet, it's serviced by not one, not two, but three propane tanks, each of which holds 2,000 gallons. Those 6,000 gallons of propane are the energy source for the home's cooking appliances, water heaters, fireplaces, outdoor grill, pool heater, and whole-house generator. A geothermal system is the home's primary heat source, but propane is also used for supplemental heating — smart practice among builders looking to lower the first cost of a geothermal system.

It takes three, 2,000-pound propane tanks to fuel all the various applications and systems at the 22,000-square-foot Kent Island Estate, which features a large (heated) pool along the waterfront.
It takes three, 2,000-gallon propane tanks to fuel all the various applications and systems at the 22,000-square-foot Kent Island Estate, which features a large (heated) pool along the waterfront. Photo courtesy of Visnic Homes

Kent Island Estate is a good example of the Propane Energy Pod building model at work. By treating Kent Island's five key areas of energy use — space heating, water heating, cooking, fireplaces, and power generation — as related parts of a whole-home system, the builder combined the benefits of individual applications into an efficient and effective propane package.

Company owner Ted Visnic explains that while propane is a great fuel source for the high-efficiency systems in the homes he builds, it "all starts with a tight home," Visnic says. "We have our homes blow-tested before we put interior trim in. Keeping the heat in is where you start. The way you heat is next."

Propane retailers provide and install the tanks and run the lines to homes Visnic builds. Plumbers, HVAC contractors, and appliance suppliers who routinely work on these homes are well versed when it comes to propane. "They'll make sure the equipment is prepped for propane or take care of that on site," Lobien says. The propane retailers also monitor propane levels and check tanks at every delivery, assuring the homeowner of the safety of their system.

To learn more about how propane systems improve the energy efficiency, performance, green profile, and value of homes, check out our free online CEU courses, available at the Propane Training Academy.

An Energy and Environmental Analysis of Propane Energy Pod Homes

Expanding Outdoor Living: Using Propane for Efficient and Sustainable Outdoor Living

Specifying Propane Standby Generators: Installation and Value Considerations

Go Green with Propane: An Overview of Propane Gas Systems for Green Residential Construction

Innovations with Propane Gas for Outdoor Residential Use

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