PROJECT: New Timber Cabins Built at Tsitsa Falls Resort

New Timber Cabins were built at Tsitsa Falls Resort, Eastern Cape
New Timber Cabins were built at Tsitsa Falls Resort, Eastern Cape

Bosazza Roofing & Timber Homes was employed as the main contractor to build new timber cabins at Tsitsa Falls Resort in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We built ten cabins and a large ablution block. This was a turnkey project; all electrical and plumbing work, fixtures and fittings, furniture and finishes were completed by our team. The scope of works also included fencing the resort, constructing road and pathways, installing a borehole and rehabilitating the site through planting indigenous trees.

Site Location – Tsitsa Falls Resort, Eastern Cape

The Tsitsa Falls Resort is located in the Mhlontlo Nature Reserve which is described on Polity by the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development as the third largest provincial reserve in the Eastern Cape. The Mhlontlo Reserve is situated near the rural towns of Tsolo and Qumbu whose surrounding areas are known for their significant and diverse flora and fauna.

The resort itself sits at the top of the waterfalls which are a 40 kilometer drive on un-tarred dirt road. This was a challenge that we faced when taking delivery of materials on site which was difficult to access. We also had limited access to water and electricity during the construction period. We had to overcome these challenges to ensure that there was as little “down time” as possible. This involved having access to generators and setting up a pump system to bring water up from the river to the resort.

This is the third national nature reserve that we have worked in. We thatched the roofs of accommodation units and administration buildings in Silaka Nature Reserve (Eastern Cape) and Goegap Reserve (Northern Cape). All of these reserves are in remote locations and come with their own set of challenges. Bosazza Roofing and Timber Homes is equipped to work under these conditions. We have experience in solving issues that arise to ensure that work can be completed to a high standard and in a defined time frame.

The Contract and Scope of Works

Timber Cabins – The Accommodation Units

We were contracted to build ten accommodation units at the resort. Six of these were existing units that needed to be refurbished. The existing units were designed as permanent tented chalets with a base built from timber decking and a small bathroom at the back. We stripped the canvas and the bathrooms which were constructed in timber. We retained the base and the support structure.

The Original Tented Units at Tsitsa Falls
The Original Tented Units at Tsitsa Falls Resort

The Design

The floor plan of both new and existing cabins was essentially the same. The cabins are each around 32m² and rectangular with an en-suite bathroom at the back. The main room is a bedroom with a kitchenette which opens onto a small, covered deck at the front. The main difference between the old and new cabins is how they are accessed. The old cabins are accessed via stairs up to the deck which were already in place on the tented chalets. The new cabins are designed with ramp access which runs along the side of the unit.

Floor plan for the new and existing timber cabins
Floor plan for the new and existing timber cabins
The existing chalets have stair access
The existing chalets have stair access
While the new chalets have ramp access
While the new chalets have ramp access

The cabins all have two brick chimneys; one outside on the veranda to be used as a braai, and one inside the main room which can be used as a fireplace. The chimneys were built from ground level to extend out of the roof.

The Construction Process

We built the cabins with timber panels which were constructed on site. The existing units already had a base but the new units needed the foundations and base to be built from scratch.

Timber frame structures were built to create the new chalet walls and roofs
Timber frame structures were built to create the cabin walls and roofs

The roofs on the cabins are single pitch. They are covered with AZ150 which is lightweight, corrugated roof sheeting.

Insulation in the Timber Cabins

It is important to insulate any building and although the reserve has quite a temperate climate, with summer daytime temperatures averaging around 26°C, the nights can be much colder. In winter nighttime temperatures can get as low as 4°C.  To provide insulation in the cabins we installed single-sided reflective sheeting as well as Isotherm thermal insulation. The insulation was layered in-between the roof sheeting and the ceiling boards. Isotherm is a great choice of thermal insulation as it is cost effective and maintenance free. The sheeting is made of 100% polyester that comes from recycled plastic bottles, making it an eco-friendly choice.

The walls of the cabins were insulated with the same products and then clad in “half log” timber panels. Half log gives the cabins the look of a rustic log cabin from the outside.

The roof sheeting was installed with insulation
The roof sheeting was installed with insulation

We installed aluminium windows and sliding doors into the cabins according to the architectural design. The sliding doors open out onto the front veranda and are also the main entrance to the cabin. Three windows were installed in the main bedroom including a large triangular window above the sliding door and a large rectangular window above the kitchenette. This lets as much natural light as possible into the small cabins. All of the windows and doors have bronze frames which are designed to match the colour of the varnish used on the outside walls.

Timber Cabin - Aluminium Windows and Doors
Aluminium doors and windows were installed in the timber cabins
Inside the Timber Cabins

The electrical and plumbing reticulation was fitted into the cabin walls and then we used plasterboard to clad the inside of the walls. The plasterboard was skimmed to give a smooth, neat finish. This simple internal cladding is an effective yet budget friendly finish. The ceilings of the cabins are also skimmed smooth and painted.

We installed vinyl flooring with a light timber look in all of the cabins.

Built in cupboards were fitted in the bedroom and kitchenette to provide a counter top and storage for guests. We also installed all of the furniture and fittings including double beds with timber headboards, microwaves and basic kitchen utilities and a small table and chairs. The cabins were decorated simply with neutral colours on the walls and bedroom furnishings. A bright painting sourced from a local artist in Chintsa was placed above the beds to bring some character and brightness into the interior.

Inside the Timber Cabins
Inside the Timber Cabins
En-suite Bathrooms in the Timber Cabins

The en-suite bathrooms were fitted with simple sanware and fittings including a toilet, basin and shower. Instant geysers were installed to provide hot water for the units.

The ensuite bathrooms were fitted with basic sanware
The ensuite bathrooms were fitted with basic sanware
Simple shower cubicle in ensuite bathroom
Simple shower cubicle in ensuite bathroom
Fixtures and fittings in the timber cabin bathrooms
Fixtures and fittings in the timber cabin bathrooms

All electrical and plumbing work was completed by nominated and specializing subcontractors.

The Ablution Block

Part of our scope of works was to construct a large ablution block for the resort. The timber structure was 75m² and included male, female and disabled toilet facilities. The building process and materials used for the block was the same as for the timber accommodation units. The ablution block has both stairs and ramp access.

The Ablution Block at Tsitsa Falls Resort
The Ablution Block at Tsitsa Falls Resort
The Viewing Points

We built two viewing points overlooking the Tsitsa Waterfalls. These were built in timber and roofed with AZ150 roof sheeting. The larger viewing point has a brick braai area.

We built two viewing decks overlooking the falls
We built two viewing decks overlooking the falls

Additional Tasks included in our Scope of Works as the Main Contractor

As the main contractor for this project our scope of works also included:

  • Divining for and installing a borehole with a pump system to provide water security for the resort
We installed a borehole to assist the resort with water security
We installed a borehole to assist the resort with water security
  • Building new septic tanks
  • Installing stand-by generators
  • Fencing the resort
We fitted 510 running meters of fencing
We fitted 510 running meters of fencing
  • Installing road and pathways
Each unit has a pathway to the entrance
Each unit has a pathway to the entrance
We installed roadways throughout the resort
We installed roadways throughout the resort

Due to the nature of the sensitive environment that we were working in, we had to pay special care and attention to the natural flora of the resort when building. Our final task was to plant 100 indigenous trees in the resort to assist in the rehabilitation of the area.

Project Contacts & Client Information

Project Duration: Eight months
Completion Date: July 2017

Client: Department of Environmental Affairs under the care of PFT Consulting
Principal Agent: Imbono FJA Architects

Architect: Imbono FJA Architects

Nominated subcontractors:
First Class Power – Electrical
PTL Plumbing – Plumbing and Reticulation
Green Connexion – Greening & Landscaping
Aluminium Glass Solutions – Doors & Windows
T&T Drilling – Borehole Drilling

Thanks to Ryan at First Class Power for drone footage over the resort

Find out more about our timber home building projects >

For more information and bookings at Tsitsa Falls Resort visit their facebook page >

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