Hemp House Construction – Is there a value?

During my research of topics to write about I have noticed many people discussing Hemp House Construction over conventional construction techniques. Many homesteaders obviously want something unique in where they live and what they want to live in. The question typically is this. How can I build my own little place to live in that’s more affordable, stable enough to be safe, and provide enough insulating value that i can handle the summer heat or the cold in the winter? They also want something that they can build with their own hands and use natural products from the earth instead of chemically treated lumber, Fiberglass insulation, and other products.

Let’s start by understanding what Hemp is and it’s many uses. Wikipedia has a great explanation of what is it and the many uses other than construction.

Hemp Farming in France


 Hemp, or industrial hemp explanation can be found HERE

Hemp or Industrial Hemp has many uses such as foods, textiles, Plastics composites, paper, jewelry, shoes, ropes, animal beddings, weed control, water purification, and biofuels. While the hemp plant stems are used for fiber, the seeds are used for medicinal and food uses. Below is an example image of the Hemp stem fibers from the plant.

Industrial Hemp fibers

Using Hemp in Construction:

Hempcrete is a natural building material. It is breathable and has excellent thermal qualities in construction.

Hempcrete fill  Photo Credit : Alex Sparrow

This is a Hempcrete fill used in the construction process.

Photo Credit: Alex Sparrow

Hempcrete or Hemplime is bio-composite material, a mixture of hemp hurds (shives) and lime (possibly including natural hydraulic lime sand, pozzolans) used as a material for construction and insulation. It is marketed under names like Hempcrete, Canobiote, Canosmose, and Isochanvre. Hempcrete is easier to work with than traditional lime mixes and acts as an insulator and moisture regulator. It lacks the brittleness of concrete and consequently does not need expansion joints.



Hempcrete has been used in France
since the early 1990’s to construct non-weight bearing insulating
infill walls, as hempcrete does not have the requisite strength for
constructing foundation and is instead supported by the frame. France continues to be an avid user of hempcrete; it is growing in popularity annually.
Like other plant products, hemp absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows, retaining the carbon and releasing the oxygen. Theoretically 165 kg of carbon (or 363 pounds) can be absorbed and locked up by 1 m3(or 264 Pounds) of hempcrete wall during manufacture. Keep in mind, like most things related to heating and air and insulation, it’s in BTU’s or British Thermal Units.

The typical compressive strength is around 1 MPa (or around 145 Pounds per square inch), around 1/20 that of residential grade concrete.
It is a low density material and resistant to crack under movement thus
making it highly suitable for use in earthquake-prone areas. Hempcrete
walls must be used together with a frame of another material that
supports the vertical load in building construction, as hempcrete’s density is 15% that of traditional concrete.




While it may be the desired choice over concrete products here in the United States, in many places permits are needed to purchase Hemp based products or bi products. Many of the plants grown in the United States under permit have a relatively low THC concentration and have no adverse side effects on humans. Hempcrete construction however can be a very hands on process in mixing and applying the mixture in your construction projects.

HERE is a video about Hemp and its many uses.

The Benefits of Hemp and Hempcrete Construction


1. Hemp stops the Carbon Emissions in your Home

Hemp is the only building
material that can actually remove carbon from the air. Other methods of
insulation, like fiberglass, have a significant carbon footprint. Hemp
in your home can actually help to reduce the carbon emissions made from
our daily lives.


We spend so much time and money building and
rebuilding our homes, so why not include a resource that protects our
planet? Imagine your home being able to clean the air for you!

2. It’s Safer for Those With Environmental Allergies or Sensitivities

The products used in and around homes make a massive impact on our health and our lives, so its important to make sure they are safe to be around. Hemp is a very clean and non-toxic plant, due to the fact that it requires little to no pesticides or herbicides to grow. Hemp can also be harvested and processed in a safe manner without the use of harsh chemicals. Using Hemp in your home can protect you and your loved ones from environmental issues and illness that result from other building materials.



3. Hempcrete Breathes Well

Hempcrete,
due to the plant’s porosity, can soak up water from the air and release
it when the moisture level decreases. Like we mentioned earlier,
hempcrete can sequester carbon, but it can also absorb a substantial
amount of heat and humidity when things get hot. And we think that’s
pretty cool.

4. It’s a Bonus!

Hemp is typically
grown for it’s seed or fiber, with the hurd being left behind. This means
that while a large agricultural hemp grow can be turned into clothing,
rope, or even hemp seed oil, the remnants can also be utilized to make
hempcrete. While other plants and their processes create detrimental
waste, almost every part of the hemp plant can be used for something
incredibly useful.

5. Hempcrete is Super Strong

Even
though hempcrete is not generally used for structural framing, it can
be added around the building structure to reap the benefits. When
hempcrete is used around studs, it can prevent them from buckling and
bending under significant loads. Hemp can truly be the backbone of a
structurally sound home!


The vast uses of hemp are pretty amazing,
and we certainly look forward to the future of hemp-centric home
building. Not only can you stay comfortable in your house, but you can
rest easy knowing your family is safe, while you’re reducing your carbon
footprint.

Would you incorporate hempcrete into your future home? We would love to hear from you on this…





Tiny House Regulations Wyoming

Tiny House Friendly: 510

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Casper, WY:
  • Tiny houses on foundations are defined as “efficiency dwelling units” and require a living room of not less than 220 square feet of floor area if the living room and bedroom are joined. Separate living room and bedroom shall be no less than 120 square feet. Read here for more.
  • Tiny houses on wheels fall under the definition of a trailer, and can only be placed in an R-6 (Manufactured Home (Mobile) Park) zoning district.
  • The City of Cody refers to tiny houses on wheels as recreational units (RVs), and they are not permitted to be used as accessory dwelling units (ADUs).

Tiny houses in Wyoming are rapidly growing in popularity. Tiny house rentals are common in this state, particularly in close proximity to outdoor activities and mountain views. There will be an increase in the number of cities that include tiny houses in their regulations and codes in the coming year.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Wisconsin

Tiny House Friendly: 310

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Madison defines tiny houses on wheels that are no more than 150 square feet as “portable shelters.”
  • Dane County allows accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that are no more than 800 square feet.

Tiny houses on foundations can be classified as ADUs in most instances; while tiny houses on wheels may find the process far more difficult.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations West Virginia

Tiny House Friendly: 310

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Jefferson County permits accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that are a maximum of 1700 square feet.

While tiny houses may be a solution in disasters such as flooding; tiny house regulations are difficult to navigate for full-time dwellers in West Virginia.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Virginia

Tiny House Friendly: 410

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Staunton County allows tiny homes with a minimum of 200 square feet.
  • Virginia Beach does not have specific ordinances for tiny houses, but will treat them like any other residential space if they meet the state building code.

Tiny houses in Virginia may be on the rise, but regulations in many of its major cities remain tight. It does seem that some of the counties in Western Virginia ( Not West Virginia )are allowing them. Be sure to check with your local municipalities before building or parking your tiny home.

Staunton and Augusta Counties Virginia are allowing Tiny Homes under certain criteria. The Link is below for more information.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Vermont

Tiny House Friendly: 610

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Burlington permits tiny houses as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) with no minimum square footage.
  • Williston allows tiny houses to have a maximum of 1500 square feet.

Vermont’s major cities are strict in regards to tiny houses; but in some cases, it may be possible to build as an ADU. It’s relatively common in Vermont to park a tiny house on wheels in rural areas to fly under the radar.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Utah

Tiny House Friendly: 510

  • Tiny house regulations and codes vary by city, town, or county.
  • Washington County minimum square footage is under 300 feet. Tiny houses on foundations are allowed in residential areas as long as they are hooked up to utilities. Tiny houses on wheels are classified as park model recreational vehicles.
  • Salt Lake City permits accessory dwelling units (ADUs) that are either 50% of the square footage of the principal structure or 650 square feet (whichever is greater).
  • Eagle Mountain City allows tiny homes on wheels in base and tier I residential zones.

Utah has been fairly slow to accommodate codes and regulations to tiny houses despite growing demand. However, there are a number of tiny house builders available for those who wish to join the movement regardless.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations South Dakota

Tiny House Friendly: 710

  • Tiny house regulations and codes may vary by city, town, or county.
  • Spearfish, South Dakota:
  • A permanent tiny house on foundations that is building code compliant is permitted in all residential zoning districts in Spearfish.
  • A temporary tiny house on wheels can be located on any commercial campground in Spearfish.
  • Beresford, South Dakota:
  • The exterior width of the tiny house can’t be less than 8.5 feet or more than 20 feet.
  • The minimum size is 187 square feet with no less than 50 additional square feet per additional person.
  • Tiny homes that are not on wheels must be secured on a foundation.
  • A tiny house on wheels must be secured to a licensed trailer.
  • A tiny house must be tightly secured to the ground when parked in order to withstand weather. Learn more here (page 44, section 12.5).

South Dakota has made huge inroads in regulating tiny houses. Places like Spearfish and Beresford are great examples of communities that specifically address tiny houses in their ordinances. Over the next few years,hopefully we can expect other towns and cities in South Dakota to follow suit.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Rhode Island

 

Tiny House Friendly: 210

  • Tiny houses are not acknowledged in ordinances by the city of Providence.
  • Check with your local municipality for specifics on zoning regulations and building codes.

Most cities like Providence will refer to sheds as a place to keep gardening equipment. Recently, Rhode Island has passed a state law allowing owner-occupants of single-family homes to build accessory dwelling units (ADUs) for senior relatives age 62 and older.

Links:

Tiny House Regulations Texas

Many parts of the State of Texas seem to be a Hotspot for establishing your Homestead and living in Tiny Houses or Shed to House Conversions, particularly in the rural areas of Texas.

 

Texas Cities Have Zoning Authority

Under Texas law, cities have the ability to adopt and implement zoning regulations. Texas Loc. Gov. Code Sec. 211. Interestingly, not all cities have done so. Houston, one of the country’s largest metro areas, does not have formal zoning, although it does control some land development through other indirect means.

Most cities in Texas, though, have zoning regulations. You can usually find a city’s zoning laws in a document titled “zoning ordinance” or “development code.”

If your property is outside city limits, different regulations will apply unless you are in what is called an “extraterritorial jurisdiction” right outside city limits. In Texas, counties have relatively limited zoning authority but may indirectly control development through regulation of transportation, environment, water, waste treatment, and stormwater.

Below is a list of Jurisdictions in Texas which seem to allow Tiny Houses or Conversions without any zoning or code issues.

Baylor County, Texas  ( Except City of Seymour)

Brown County, Texas

Ellis County, Texas 

Lake Dallas, Texas

Medina County, Texas   (Outside City Limits)

Spur, Texas  ( which has the claim to be the first Tiny House friendly  Town since 2014)