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Insika Lodge, Victoria Falls

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Insika is an isi-Ndebele word meaning “Pillar of Strength” and refers to the column or pillar of cloud that rises up from the Victoria Falls at various times of the year. Some say it is visible from kilometres away. Insika Lodge is situated on the banks of the Zambezi River on a nature reserve, and adjoining golf course. Accommodation is provided by 40 luxury rooms and the Lodge also features a Spa and Sauna area, a plush dining room, bar, outdoor pool area in rustic natural surrounds, and a game viewing deck overlooking a watering hole. Insika Lodge is located a few minutes’ drive outside the town of Victoria Falls and close to the entrance of the majestic falls area. It is a 20 minute drive from Victoria Falls Airport.

PROJECT DETAILS

  • Project Name: Insika Lodge
  • Project Type: Decking
  • Description: Complex deck linking reception, dining area and bar with a walkway to the pool area and game-viewing deck
  • Size: +/- 1 200m2 total
  • Product used: Eva-Last Infinity IS decking, in Swiss Oak colour and using HULK hidden fasteners
  • Date of Installation: October/ November 2022
  • Project Location: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • Architect: Joel Pringle
  • General Contractor: Self-built by Richard Hulley, MD of Insika Lodge

PROJECT MATERIAL SELECTION

Eva-Last decking chosen for complex deck area and walkway leading to pool and game-viewing deck.
Richard Hulley is unique in that he is not only a co-owner and Managing Director of Insika Lodge, but he also project-managed the construction of the lodge’s new deck, which was completed in the last quarter of 2022. He also did a lot of the physical deck installation himself.

The deck at Insika Lodge is a multifaceted structure as it links the kitchen area, the dining room and bar area, and the reception area of the lodge. A walkway then connects to this deck that runs down to the outdoor pool area and the game viewing deck located at the watering hole. For prime-time game viewing, you can’t really imagine a better scenario.

Hulley chose Eva-Last’s Infinity IS range of decking for the project, and is particularly pleased that he opted for this strong, lightweight, durable bamboo composite product because he found it extremely easy to work with.

Steel was an ideal choice for the substructure
“We used “C” Channel steel in a 100 mm x 50 mm x 5 mm sizing for our main uprights and structural beams,” says Hulley. “For the deck support we used 100 mm x 50 mm x 20 mm x 2 mm galvanised lip channels, at 400 mm spans, centre-to-centre. We avoided the “picture-frame” technique with our deck as it is quite complex, featuring quite a number of curves, and these interesting design elements don’t lend themselves to framing. So we chose to butt-join the decking instead.”

DECKING INSTALLATION

Installing the Infinity IS decking
The I-beam design of the Infinity IS decking, with its hidden fastening system using tabs to locate the decking to the steel joists, was particularly easy to install. “The fasteners, which use little ears to locate tabs of the underside of the boarding, are fixed with self-tapping screws that tap a thread straight into the steel,” notes Hulley.

“Because of the design of the fasteners, and the uniformity of locating the tabs, I was able to pre-drill the holes at appropriate spacing, which really sped up the build. There are a number of aspects to the hidden fastening system that I like. Should a single board get damaged, it makes replacement of a board a matter of loosening the screws and sliding the board out to replace it with another board, so no additional drilling is necessary,” explains Hulley.
Personal safety is also a big plus with a hidden fastening system
When traditional timber is used on a deck with conventional screw location, it is not uncommon that, due to warpage and bowing, these screws can become loose over time, exposing a potentially dangerous screw head that can easily injure a person walking over it. The Eva-Last hidden fastening system significantly reduces the risk of this type of hazard occurring, particularly pertinent on a deck built in a public place with a lot of daily traffic.

Durability of Eva-Last’s capped range of decking boards
Eva-Last Inifinity IS capped composite boards come with a 25-year warranty, and are particularly noted for their resistance to insect infestation and weather resistance. While the climatic condition of Victoria Falls is hot and humid, the bamboo-polymer composition of Eva-Last decking makes good sense in this area, thanks to the patented i-beam design which allows for better heat dissipation.

Future Installations planned
“I am already in possession of a supply of Infinity IS decking for future projects,” said Hulley. “These will take the form of a refurbishment of our two evening cruise house boats, and also a new riverside venue on the Zambezi, with a restaurant and seating area with raised walkways.”

Hulley explains, “Although I am experienced in steel construction, this was my first attempt at building a deck, and I am really pleased with the results. As a lodge owner I am really pleased with the finished product, and as a self-build contractor, I was delighted at how easy it was to work with the Eva-Last decking.”

Marc Minne, Eva-Last Co-founder and CEO, was really impressed with the Insika project: “It is not often that we have an Eva-Last client who also doubles as the contractor. In this case, hats off to Richard Hulley for doing a superb job with the deck build at Insika Lodge. The fact that he is already planning two more major projects with Eva-Last Infinity IS speaks volumes for the all-round integrity of our products.”

KEY INFLUENCER QUOTE

“Despite the durability of the capped Eva-Last decking, I was also continually impressed with how easy Eva-Last composite was to work with it. During the cutting process the saws slid through the decking without any snags or snarl-ups and in executing the fastening process, I never had to worry about width variations or warping, so everything lined up perfectly. I’m looking forward to our second project using the same Eva-Last Infinity range. With this being our first attempt at deck building, I must say I’m looking forward to doing it a second time, with it being more familiar and easier, having refined the technique.” – Richard Hulley, MD of Insika Lodge and self-build project manager for the Insika Lodge deck.”

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