Friday, February 01, 2013

Our new tree house

Recently, we bade goodbye to our old home in Taman U of 20 years. That cosy home atop the hill will now be rented to a family friend and he sure is lucky to get all the built-in furniture Dad designed those years ago.

Our new home is very different to our old but it is a welcome difference. I am so proud of Dad for finally building his own home. His own meaning a home he designed from scratch (don't worry, Dad's a licensed architect, not some dodgy contractor). He tried to be as friendly to the environment as possible and some of the things he did to ensure this were:
  • Keep as many of the trees as possible
  • Not level the slope where possible
  • Install a rainwater tank
  • Use as many biodegradable products as possible
  • Use LED and energy-saving bulbs
  • Design the building with high ceilings for a cooling effect
  • Allow natural lighting by using glass panels and louvres
  • Use salvaged wood cuttings / railway slippers
  • Install solar panels (pictured below)

Let me show you my room to illustrate some of the other points above...

The high ceiling plus the windows and sliding door really help with keeping the room cool. My air-con unit has only been turned on once and at night, I have to wake up to turn the fan off because it gets too cold!

Yes, that is a full sliding door that opens out to...

... a tree and oblivion. I am on the first floor so I think everyone would have to help keep me away from this door when I am intoxicated.

And in the mornings, I get to see sunrise.

The best part of my room would have to be my bathroom. I complain to Dad that it is too huge but actually, I love it because it is the only bathroom with a view. See that hole in the wall?

That hole is in fact a window that allows me to look out to the front part of the house (living room, entrance and tree well):

What's a tree well? It's like an air well just that we have two trees. So this is what I get to see from my bathroom when I look directly up:

Rain and leaves fall straight through into the heart of the house, like those old Peranakan houses in Malacca and Penang. This is why our home is known to the security guards as the 'rumah dengan pokok 'kat dalam' (house with the tree inside).

For neighbours, we have silverleaf monkeys, who are a real friendly bunch, as well as squirrels, chipmunks, different types of birds (a woodpecker said hi to me outside my window). So far, touchwood, no internal disturbances. The only 'disturbances' have been from creepy crawlies.

The tarantula was found in the kitchen and the scorpion was out in the front deck. No harm done. After all, we are the ones who have invaded their natural habitat so we have to give and take, I suppose. Share share la, right?

At least our cats have kept themselves out of trouble. No beastly confrontation for now, other than one prison break attempt by Remy into the next door jungle of a playground. But he has also found other hiding places.

Later on, Mum will be doing up her compost heap and worm farm. There will be fruit trees, herbs (we already have serai), pandan, chilli, lots of orchids, and petai.

We are all really happy with the house. So far, visitors have given positive feedback, too. They enjoy the cool and fresh air and the greenery, which is a welcome scenery change from the increasing chockablock cement and brick landscape of KL.

Not sure how long this bliss will last. Well, at least until the neighbours decide to build their homes and hopefully, they will keep their trees, too.

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