First in the country, an Asheville house made of hemp

Asheville hemp houseKaron Korp and Russ Martin researched a lot of types of construction for the house they wanted to build on Town Mountain. They settled on hemp – and not just because it would make their house the first in the nation to be built of the material.
They chose hemp for the walls because it’s super-strong and has a life span of 800 years. And it breathes.
“One thing that makes this house so special is everything we used is breathable. So there’s no risk of mold or mildew,” Russ said.
“The walls will eventually petrify,” house designer Anthony Brenner said. “And then you can compost them.”
Hemp, distantly related to marijuana, is illegal to grow in the United States. Hempcrete is imported from Europe.
Russ and Karon’s house is also the first home in North America to use Purepanel, a core panel material made of recycled paper. Skinned with Magnum board (a mineral-based, nontoxic substitute for drywall), the interior walls are breathable, fireproof, waterproof and mold-, mildew- and termite-resistant. And they’re extremely strong.
Brenner started designing and building toxin-free homes because of his 8-year-old daughter, who has a rare neurological disorder that makes her extremely sensitive to environmental and chemical contaminants.
“I believe the homes we live in significantly affect the short- and long-term health of our families,” Brenner said.
Breathing easy at 3,600 feet
A hard climb up a steep driveway takes visitors to the house, whose lightly-colored walls blend in nicely with the sky. At an elevation of close to 3,600 feet, the house sits lower than the peak so that it doesn’t stand out from below. From the decks, Karon and Russ can see into Riceville and overlook the Beaverdam Valley.
First choice for second chances
Retaining walls are composed of inexpensive 2,500-pound pieces of reclaimed concrete. The house has reclaimed steel beams; double-pane, argon-filled windows recovered from the Grove Park Inn; and flooring milled from trees on the property. The Hempcrete exterior walls, supplied by the Asheville company Hemp Technologies, are made from lime and the husk of the hemp plant. One-foot thick, they are fireproof and have an R value of 30.
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