THE man of the house was working in the garden. The drizzle did not deter him. Other than some palms lining the driveway and a small patch of herbs, the grounds were bare. This owner sure has a lot on his plate as the land was big enough for two pools. But he did not want a pool.
Too much maintenance, he says, smiling.
In his old collared T-shirt and slacks, it took a few seconds to hit home that he was no hired hand.
His quiet, confident manner and the way he talked gave him away.
That morning, the retired engineer had taken his daughter, who lives with the family, to work. He had returned with some kuih bingkai (tapioca cakes) and curry puffs for late morning tea.
Yes, he knew he had guests coming, but to him, his exterior was not important. It is substance that counts. His house was something else.
At RM7 million (Reapfield, Jane Loke: 012-203-2228, 7728-6230), the owner did not build the white two-storey sprawling home to cap his years of labour. He did it with an aim.
The couple had planned and designed the place, knowing exactly what they wanted and yet, painfully aware that plans do go awry. Their shared hope and desire: to build a home big enough for three generations. Their 33-year-old girl still lives with them, while a son and daughter are working abroad.
Man proposes, God disposes, the retired engineer says simply over a cup of high quality Chinese tea. His wife smiles.
He seems to have thought of everything a separate entrance and private stairs for guests or the extended family, with a kitchenette; a pantry on the first floor for that nightcap to cut out the midnight wanderings.
You need privacy in a big house, he says.
While he has taste, the engineer in him is also practical; Italian chandeliers that do not need high maintenance, steel bars and railings that can be easily cleaned and windows frames that need not be repainted, ever. And curved timber railings for the stairs for that touch of sophistication.
That wooden railing alone costs RM10,000, his wife chided.
In our previous home, my wife used to constantly remind me to clean the chandeliers, to do this or that. So when I built this house, I wanted a place that was as fuss-free as possible, he says, the lady of the house smiling nonchalantly beside him.
He also wanted to enjoy his family.
We are happy here. This is a very comfortable house, in a very nice secluded area, with 24-hour security. In the daytime, the guards patrol the grounds on bikes, at night, dog patrols. But together with the maid, there are only four of us.
He bought the ex-oil palm, freehold land in the mid-1990s. It was one of the 22 bungalow lots that were an acre and above, on flat terrain in a low-density community.
Located in Glenmarie Court, Shah Alam, Selangor the back faces the NKVE highway. There are smaller bungalows with land sizes varying between 8,000 sq ft and 17,000 sq ft located not far off, but he wanted an extended family.
There are no double-storey linked houses here, only semi-detached and bungalows. A walking distance from Glenmarie Pan Pacific, it is not far from a golf course.
He built the house about four years ago, so the place is still new. In fact, he just started paying monthly maintenance of about RM300, for the semi-detached owners, RM125.
When you build your own house, you must know what you want, he says.
He wanted an internal courtyard that has been turned that into a Chinese garden.
He wanted a high ceiling. That now oversees the formal dining area, the courtyard and lobby. And he treasures privacy.
As his vision unfolds, the utility or service area took shape in one part of the house, the living and entertaining area in another and the bedrooms on the first floor.
It sure is a sprawling big house, ideal for three generations and for those who love to entertain.
·Double-storey bungalow in a gated community.
·Land area: 48,000 sq ft. Built-up:14,300 sq ft
·6 bedrooms, all with walk-in closets. Two servant rooms. Nine bathrooms. One study, one recreational room, one TV room, two living areas and four storage rooms.
·Outstanding features: Big garden with private guest areas. Located in a low-density, private community.