Tiny, eco-friendly hemp homes are the made-in-B.C. solution to the housing crisis, according to some advocates.
Kim Brooks, the CEO of Hempcrete Natural Building, along with her partner, Jayeson Hendryson, have been building two tiny homes made of hemp since spring.
The company uses hempcrete — a type of concrete made from hemp hurd, fibres, clay, lime and a bit of actual concrete.
“We mix it, pour it into forms and then plaster it with our special type of plaster and then colour it with natural pigments,” she explained.
Hemp has a number of industrial uses — from fibres in ropes and textiles to paper and insulation.
The plant has been increasingly popular as a building material because it is considered eco-friendly, renewable and cheap to produce.
The main disadvantage is hempcrete is lighter than regular concrete and cannot be used on weight-bearing walls. It’s often used in conjunction with more load-bearing materials like wood, steel or brick.
In addition, the production of hemp — which is in the same family as cannabis but has a much lower THC level — has been a contentious issue. It was banned from 1938 to 1998, but since then the industry has picked up, with crops grown across central and Western Canada.
Brooks has lived in a hemp home since the early 2000s and says the benefits are worth it.
“The biggest benefit for me has been not using any allergens or petrochemicals. My lungs are very happy and healthy,” she said.
“It’s also insect and rat resistant because they don’t like the lime. In fact, it’s deadly for them to eat it.”
Eco-friendly tiny homes
The company has helped build many hemp houses across Western Canada before turning to tiny homes.
“A couple of years ago in Northern Alberta, we had a client who wanted a very tiny house on skids … that was a pretty cool idea.”
Brooks said the tiny hemp homes could help with the affordable housing crunch here in British Columbia.