OFF THE GRID
By Ally Lewis
Wednesday 2nd of May 2018
Operating almost entirely off the grid, with innovative green design features in keeping with the latest international trends in sustainable living, this serene lakeside home in the exclusive Lake Michelle eco-estate is a sanctuary where time seems to stand still.
In fact, upon being assailed by the most magnificent view as one enters the spacious living room through double cavity doors, one’s first thought is: “I never want to leave.”
The owners have designed this magnificent home with a keen attention to detail, starting with the keyless entry to the home. The Le Grand My Home Control System allows for automated services, such as the dimming of the lights, throughout the house.
There are USB charge ports in all three of the bedrooms and the kitchen, and ports in every room linking to a central vacuum system. Comfort is king in this stylish home, and there are hydronic heated towel rails in the three bathrooms and display-controlled hydronic under-floor heating throughout. This means that hardly any electricity is needed to heat the home. Thanks to the automated control system, the ambient temperature can be controlled with the touch of a keypad. But double-glazed windows and automated skylights also maintain a comfortable temperature. The flue-less fireplace between the living room and kitchen is just there to set the mood. The home is also equipped with evaporative ducted cooling that cools the home at a cost that is up to 87% lower than conventional air conditioners. It also produces none of the greenhouse gases emitted by a standard ducted reverse cycle system.
If comfort is king, then energy-efficiency is certainly the queen of this property. With Cape Town’s rising utility costs and the concern about water scarcity, it makes financial sense to operate as independently of the municipal or energy provider’s grid as possible. This home allows for an almost 99.9% departure from a reliance on external energy sources. The Herz Pellet Boiler, located unobtrusively in the garage, is a complete home heating and hot water solution that ensures there is hot water and this is pumped throughout the house with a hot water circulation pump. Also in the garage is the heavy-duty solar battery bank which can meet almost all of the home’s electrical needs.
A 400-litre solar tank provides additional energy and there are solar panels on the roof. Even the swimming pool is heated with excess hot water from the buffer tanks via a heat exchanger. Water usage is regulated with the Grohe Filtered Boiling Water on Demand system in the kitchen that supplies up to eight litres of boiling water and a touch sensor tap in the scullery. There’s no risk of disruptions to water supply, as the home has three outside tanks with a combined capacity for 15 000 litres of rainwater storage. Irrigation, from the well point, is also automated. Other features of this high-end, eco-home include ISO board insulation throughout, ceiling insulation, clay bricks for improved building value and porcelain tiles throughout.
The television room is smart wired with surround sound. An open plan kitchen includes a Caesarstone island with ample storage space. There are two ovens – electric and gas – as well as a seven-plate gas hob. A built-in wine cooler encased in glass below the stairs doubles as a modernist art piece. Upstairs leads to a modest office, which is also smart wired. The main bedroom has a walk-in dressing room and magnificent, uninterrupted lake views. Inside the en-suite bathroom is a free-standing bath tub and a double rain shower.
The patio is roofed and includes a built-in braai area. A heated salt pool has an easy roll cover system and a martini seat along its length.
The patio leads out to the home’s private jetty from which one can launch kayaks and boats. The owner says the sunset views are spectacular, while the birdlife would make this an ideal home for the avid twitcher.
“Every day, it is like looking at a different painting on a new canvas,” says the owner. Wildlife species often spotted in the wetland area include the rare Western Leopard toad.
While the owners have made a considerable investment in building an energy-efficient home with cutting-edge technology, the property is not obtrusive in its design. The property blends in seamlessly with its cul-de-sac neighbours and wetland surroundings.
The owner said every effort was made to comply with the Homeowners’ Association’s building requirements and height restrictions when installing energy-efficient devices. What are conspicuous by their absence, however, are the lack of security features. With Lake Michelle’s topnotch security, that includes regular patrols and strictly controlled access, there is no need for unsightly bars and electric fences. For the owners, this peace of mind is invaluable. “To live like this in South Africa is priceless.”
The estate is home to a mix of people, including cold-water endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh and a gentleman named Oom Koos, who in his day translated bibles into Xhosa. The decision to move to Noordhoek, an area known for its village feel and eclectic community, was an easy one, say the owners. The Southern Peninsula suburb is popular with families, especially those with young children, swallows looking to spend time near some of Cape Town’s most pristine beaches, and people wanting a laidback lifestyle with the option of being able to do commute easily into town. Popular attractions nearby include malls such as the Longbeach Mall, the popular Noodhoek Farm Village, the Cape Point Vineyard and Silvermine Nature Reserve.
House price growth in this estate has been considerable, increasing from a median price of R1.45 million in 2010 to R5.7 million in 2018, according to Lightstone property data. “With the transition to “green” gaining momentum, amid rising utility costs and water shortages, the demand for energy-efficient homes that require less maintenance and lower operating costs will increase. This will, in turn, drive price premiums for properties that meet these requirements. This makes home such as Oriole Close a sound long-term investment,” says Shelly Keys, Pam Golding Properties area manager for the South Peninsula.
Posted by Niki Jackson