Building houses out of hemp
A Leycester family's first step to living an off-grid, healthier lifestyle is building an entire house out of hempcrete.
For those who don't know, hempcrete is a composite of a bio-fibre (hemp) and a mineral binder, in which the Juszczak's have chosen Tradical lime. The ingredients are then blended together with water.
Ecologist Jakub and wife Andrea Juszczak stumbled upon hempcrete while researching a way to build a mould and mildew resistant house, for particular health reasons.
"We've lived in the Lismore area for ten years and we've lived in a lot of houses with mould," Ms Juszczak said.
"We had health issues, I have asthma, my son has asthma and we had so many attacks from the mould.
"After researching, we discovered hempcrete was a solution to that. We are just trying to do the best thing for our family."
Following some further research, the Juszczak's realised there was many other benefits from using hempcrete as a replacement for standardised building materials.
"It's environmentally friendlier with less use of petrochemicals, it's an affordable insulation and it's a nontoxic building material, among other things," she said.
"The ability of the product to take on carbon over its lifetime, makes the house carbon neutral and at times carbon negative ... depending on how you build the rest of your house.
"We've always been ecofriendly and we plan to be off grid out here with solar, tank water, we'll have our own grey water system and eventually have some dairy cows."
The Juszczak's new house will comprise of hempcrete walls, floors and ceilings, made from a mixture of hemp lime, and water.
"The assessor from Lismore City Council he said hadn't come across this before," she said.
"We are using a designer called Lab Designs and we have chosen to get hydrated lime from Tradical in the UK."
She said she hoped other perspective builders would look into better, more ecofriendly construction materials.
"The building industry is one of the highest offsets of pollution," she said.
"A lot of problems can come from materials used to build houses that can release volatile organic compounds or VOC's."
She said there was a misconception the hemp industry had anything to do with taking drugs.
"The hemp has nothing to do with it, because it's a low THC version," she said.
"It's a certified product to grow and people have licenses to grow it.
"Hemp is taking off more in Australia ... people are becoming more aware of hemp in general. There are so many materials you can get from the hemp plant. It's an amazing product in that way because it's so fast growing and doesn't require the use of heavy chemicals to grow."
While the Juszczak's are still in the planning phase of the build, they invite those interested in building with hempcrete to a workshop run on site at their property in August. The work shop is run by The Hemp Building Company, and will consist of attendees working on what they believe is the first hempcrete dairy kitchen in the world.
"The workshop isn't building our house, it's to learn how to do the hempcreting," Ms Juszczak said.
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