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High Performance Homes Builds Custom House for Man with Disabilities

  • Published: 2016-10-20 : Author: High Performance Homes, LLC : Contact:
  • Synopsis: High Performance Homes builds custom home in Maryland for man with physical disabilities, design improves accessibility, versatility and cost of living.

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"The resulting home design is a 2,000 square foot, three bedroom Country-style home gracing an expansive front porch."

It's important for consumers to know there are innovative builders out there that are trying to make a difference in people's lives by providing homes that improve homeowners' cost of living, have advanced features for improved health and comfort, and also take into consideration aging-in-place and accessibility features, such as those that are incorporated into the design of the Swisher's home.

High Performance Homes, LLC (HPH) a U.S. Department of Energy 2016 Housing Innovation Award Winner and leading Mid-Atlantic custom builder of sustainable, zero energy ready homes, has broken ground on a new custom home in Westminster Maryland that includes a comprehensive design to meet the homeowner's needs for accessibility, versatility and lifestyle.

Accessibility, Versatility and Lifestyle

Empty-nesters, Dan Swisher, a Keller-Williams Legacy realtor in Westminster and his wife, Suzanne Swisher, an RN Clinical Documentation Specialist at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, wanted to build a new home for a variety of reasons. The couple wanted to "right-size" for the two of them, from their larger family home of many years, to build a home close to their grown children, grandchildren and their aging parents. Of paramount importance, they also wanted to build a home with greater accessibility to better serve Dan with his physical disability. (Dan survived a spinal cord injury, becoming a paraplegic due to a rope swing accident when he was 41). Though their previous home was customized, after living there for many years, they had acquired a wish list for their new HPH home to further improve accessible for Dan. Not only did they want to improve everyday accessibility, they also wanted to make the home "one-story living" ready. In the event Suzanne is survived by Dan he can continue to live in the house by himself.

They also wanted to incorporate certain design elements that would allow them to Age in Place -- a home that was overall better suited for their current and future lifestyle. Suzanne said, "Another feature important to us that HPH was able to accommodate was having a well-lit and spacious basement with a walkout, providing the potential for use as a recreation room, a future in-law suite, or live-in domestic help." Versatile rooms were also desired to accommodate the Swisher's ability to work from home (Dan currently works from home, and Suzanne will have the ability to in 2017), and eventually, their long-term retirement goals to continue their love for entertaining and hosting family and friends for holidays, dinner groups and bible study.

As a realtor, Dan had heard of High Performance Homes and their award-winning innovative homes and reached out to the builder with the hope they could meet their numerous goals. "We went to visit the HPH model home and after that, it was a 'no brainer' for us, Dan said." "Dan was really excited about the Zero Energy features. He was really sold on that," Suzanne added.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 56 million Americans have some sort of disability. However, there are no federal accessibility (design and construction) requirements currently for single-family homes. HPH Head of Construction Operations, Kiere DeGrandchamp and his team worked closely with the Swisher's to deliver a home design that would help them achieve an overall better quality of life than their previous home did, or even a new standard home could. High Performance Homes came up with a comprehensive approach, combining zero energy ready design with universal concepts such and Aging-in-Place design, along with tailored features that would offer the couple benefits well beyond a code built home. "We designed the Swisher's home to be far more accessible, versatile, cost-effective, comfortable and safe to suit their lifestyle today and into the future."

The resulting home design is a 2,000 square foot, three bedroom Country-style home gracing an expansive front porch. The open-floor plan includes a master bedroom, second bedroom/office, kitchen, utility/laundry room, great room, dining room and breakfast nook, all on one floor. The breakfast nook and great room overlook a full deck across the back of the house, capitalizing on their three-acre view and vistas beyond. They also have a full basement and a bonus room above the garage that can be used for a variety of purposes.

Coded for the future, HPH's state-of-the-art zero energy ready technology package includes an extremely tight building envelope built with structurally insulated panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and solar shingles so that the Swisher's will have little to no utility bill. As they enter into retirement and are on a fixed-income, the energy-savings will help control their cost-of-living expenses. Even now, while the couple is still working, Dan said "I got tired of paying BGE's high electric bills that we had in our last home."

As maintaining Dan's good health is of chief importance, additional features of the home that appeal to the Swisher's are the health advantages High Performance Homes offer such as the comprehensive air cleaning system that minimizes dangerous pollutants, and provides continuous fresh filtered air resulting in the elimination of 99.7% of harmful airborne contaminants.

The electrical panel box which was located in the basement of their previous home was moved up to the main level utility room in the new home. "At our old house, when a fuse blew, he [Dan] couldn't get to it", Suzanne said. He also couldn't reach the garbage disposal switch or fan/light controls above the stove." The Swisher's are also looking forward to the smart home features that will enable them with complete heating, ventilating, and air conditioning control, as well as remote control of lighting, thermostats, and security from any smart device.

The Swisher's are looking forward to the completion of their custom high performance home in early 2017. "Kiere has been pretty phenomenal. He's been great to work with. I couldn't ask for a better team," Dan said.

Universal and Aging-in Place Design Features Include:

Whole house universal design

Garage with Bonus Room Above


Master Bath

Great Room

Utility Room


Other modifications:

Our whole house approach is to combine heirloom-quality craftsmanship with the most innovative home building technologies. High Performance Homes is a Home Innovation NGBS Green Partner, pledging a 100% commitment to design and construct each of its homes to the rigorous requirements of the NGBS. Additionally, the home builder is a DOE Zero Energy Ready Home Partner committed to meet all requirements set forth in the DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program, as well as an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Indoor airPLUS and ENERGY STAR Partner. Lots are available for home builds in the world-class golf course community, The Links at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, and custom homes are available throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. The home of the future can be yours, today. To schedule a tour of the model, call 717-359-4663 or to learn more watch the technology tour at

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