Well it was good and bad news from France. The congestion through Calais begun to improve but the backlog was significant, so I had been told the binder and hemp should arrive Wednesday or Thursday. I had arranged for my local builders merchant – Covers – to take the delivery and then deliver in small loads to the plot. It meant around two days wait for the material on site with little for the hempcrete team to do.

It was early Monday before 7am and my mobile phone rang and woke me from my slumber.

“Hello?” I answer.

“Mr Shimbart I come Saturday but they say no not for here they won’t take so I wait round corner. We must deliver,” replies a gentleman with a French accent.

The conversation continues and I establish the arctic lorry has my hemp and binder but I become more confused as to where he is. I agree to get things sorted and call the gentleman back.

I check my email and two messages appear in quick succession from the supplier in France — the shipment had arrived Saturday and been turned away by the builders merchant!!

I call the builders merchants and speak with my contact there.

“I’m sorry Mr Shimbart. We didn’t expect the delivery till next week as you advised, so I did not warn the Saturday team”

The story and rumour is that the Saturday team opened the side of the lorry to be greeted by what appeared to be pallets stacked with bags of chopped straw. They explained to the driver that this was a builders merchants and gave him directions to the nearest pet superstore!

After several calls to France, the driver, and the builders merchants, a plan was in place. The driver was given the all clear to deliver my hemp and lime. However I could still not establish exactly where the lorry was — I worried he was back in France!

I ring Lee at Covers at around 10.30am — worryingly still no sign of the lorry.

11.30am: “Mr Shimbart it’s arrived!”

Finally the eagle had landed.

hempcrete-materials-edit

The timing was perfect as just as the hempcrete specialists working with my building team completed the first sections of the shuttering, the hemp and binder began to arrive on site.

I missed the first couple of days of hempcreting as I had to be at work but Jack the head builder kept me updated. He seemed to be enjoying it too. Jack is a seasoned and experienced builder of 30+ years but was very impressed with the hempcrete.

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On Friday I was off work and had booked the next two weeks as leave. Time to get stuck in and help build my house.

I was out with the camera first recording the moment. I felt like an excited schoolboy seeing the huge pan mixer, the buckets of wet hemp and the hempcrete walls gradually starting to appear as the shuttering was removed.

It is very physical work manually casting hempcrete and you have to take care as the lime can burn the skin. Caution not to get any in the eyes is essential. It was a lovely hot summers day so between mixes there was a little time to rest and have a drink. Then the cry from Rob the man on the pan mixer would ring out across the site:

“Hempcrete!”

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The team were back to work. Yellow hippo buckets of hempcrete were passed up and along the scaffold to those at the top of the shuttering tipping in and gently spreading the hempcrete. Care was taken not to over or under compact the hempcrete but at the same time due to the hot weather it was essential to get the mix into the shuttering and cast before it started to go off.

It was such a pleasure to be involved in the hempcreting and despite being hard work there was something very therapeutic about working with it. It was just fantastic to see the house appear from the ground up as the lifts of shuttering were gradually removed.

I must say a big thank you to Hemp-lime Construct for working so well with my building team and leading the hempcreting. My own building team worked incredibly hard and meant we easily completed the hempcreting in well under three weeks. Impressive when you think the house used 60m3 of hempcrete. That means 600x25kg bags of lime binder and 300x20kg bags of hemp shiv.

I think the photos of the build speak for themselves.

west-outer-face-hempcrete-edit
south-hempcrete-to-eves-edit
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Now the hempcreting was complete but would the ‘Great British Summer ‘ allow it to dry or would it just wash away our heightened spirits…

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