Would you buy a house made from hemp?
Western Australia’s first ever ‘hemp house’ has been listed for sale, two years after the revolutionary residence was completed near Margaret River.
Owner Vanessa Drury-Jones says the project, which was completed in 2017, allowed her to create a warm, welcoming home that was environmentally and ethically sustainable, while also being energy efficient.
“I hadn’t built from the ground up before, but I had renovated three or four times,” she says.
“It manifested out of trying to find a building product that was safe and healthy, and came about purely from environmental and ethical reasoning.
“Over a period of about 12 months, I investigated what kind of building product I wanted to use and I looked at a lot of different options.”
Drury-Jones says hemp walls are termite resistant, fireproof, breathable, prevent mould and reduce the need for heating and cooling, because hemp is a thermal insulator.
“The health aspects of hemp really drove me. I’m a naturopath originally, so for me it was about the breathability of the (hempcrete) product,” she says.
“The thermal properties of hemp means it stays at an ambient temperature of 15-17 degrees all year round so that makes it not very hard to heat or cool.”
Hemp was sourced from New South Wales for the construction, because at the time there was a limited hemp industry in WA.
As part of the hemp building process, the plant’s woody stem is shredded, mixed with a lime render and encased inside a timber frame. The walls can then be sealed in casein, a protein from cow’s milk or legumes, or pea and corn starch.
A natural render made from crushed quartz and silica was used to seal the exterior of the home.
The result is the three bedroom, three bathroom property at 2 Hogan Place, Witchcliffe. It has a galley kitchen, dining room and sunken living area. Each bedroom has its own ensuite and external access, and there is a study, which could double as a fourth bedroom.
Drury-Jones believes many people opt for traditional “cookie-cutter” homes because they are not aware of alternative options available, or that construction costs are comparable, if not cheaper.
“I was very hands-on with the build. I sourced a casein powder made from legumes and soy milk, mixed it with water and sealed my whole house for $400. I couldn’t have even painted one room for that,” she says.
“I feel like there were great options, they’re really functional, they’re also environmentally sound, not leaching or toxic, they’re easy to use and I saved myself thousands.
“Once you start looking for different options there’s actually a lot out there and it’s quite comparable, if not cheaper.
“I do believe a big barrier is that people believe that an alternative build would cost a whole heap more than it actually does.”
Since building the first hempcrete house in WA, there have been another two similar projects constructed in the same estate in Witchcliffe, as well as an additional hemp home in the nearby township of Margaret River.
Drury-Jones says she is at pains to part with the property, which she invested much effort and love in, but was unable to devote as much time as she wanted to the beautiful 2990sqm rural block with her busy lifestyle.
“The reason I’m selling is that the property is too big for me at the moment. It’s the land size. If I could transport that house to another smaller block, I’d be laughing. I love my house. It has a real warmth about it,” she says.
The large property has marri trees and an orchard of olives, apples, figs, Valencia oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins, peaches, cherries, pears, mulberries, satsuma plums and apricots. The property also has a solar hot water system with an electric booster. There is a rock fire pit and a new shed.
It has been listed for sale for $695,000 and is being sold by Beth Sibon, from Acton South West – Margaret River.