This week we paid a visit to the site of the ‘Mare Cannabum’ hemp home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We began to design this house in 2012 with our wonderful clients, the Meehans, and architect Gerri West.
It is clear looking at this unique home and the interest it is accumulating, that our efforts and careful planning are paying off! Around 20 people, mostly architects, came out for a tour and reception at the site on Wednesday. They had great questions about the product and its installation. We hope that some of them will be inspired to try it for themselves.
As of this week, about half of the hempcrete has been installed of the 3000 or so cubic feet required to fill the exterior walls. Jim Sykes Construction has been installing the hempcrete in approximately 8″ lifts, removing the forms as each course is stable.
After the walls have been formed, the hempcrete will need to cure and dry for the next 30-45 days, before receiving lime plaster on both sides.
It was exciting to once again see all those bales of hemp shiv stacked up!
It seems that the crew is enjoying working with the new material, and are getting pretty efficient at it! On the day that we visited, they set their new record of 24 bales installed, compared to their previous record of 18. The hemp is mixed with the binder in small batches using a mortar mixer. Because hempcrete is not heavy, once mixed, it is simply carried in a bucket to the location in the house.
One clever method devised by the guys installing the hempcrete was to use PVC pipe to create forms for the window and door heads and jambs. The hempcrete is packed in there and then the form is removed and reused.
When there was an arch top window or door to be formed for the hempcrete, they scored the PVC before putting it up.
Result: a smooth arch top window. The result was great! A mesh lath will be installed in the first layer of lime plaster to prevent any of the thinner areas from cracking.