Tudor hall house retrofit and renovation using hempcrete


I own this gorgeous grade II listed timber framed building that dates from the 13th Century.

Last year, one of the corner posts disintegrated and during the repairs, we discovered that at some point in its recent past, the walls had been repaired using concrete, tar paper and various other non suitable materials.  The result of using this was that water vapour passing out of the house was hitting the non permeable barrier, sitting again the beams and rotting them.  We decided that we needed to work our way around the house, stripping off the render, repairing and renovating the walls.  We also wanted to find a material that would improve the thermal density of the house to try and keep the house warmer.  We decided that hempcrete fitted the bill.

So why hempcrete?

Through our research, we knew that:

  • hempcrete is breathable – boy is that a factor when dealing with timber framed houses
  • it is warm – having lived here for 8 years with draughts, warm is where I want to be
  • it allows movement – having just gone through the storms of this winter (2013/14) the whole house was moving.  Even my bedside glass of water was beginning to rock!
  • it is waterproof – even without its lime render outer covering, it has easily withstood the winter onslaught of water, wind and the odd sleet/hail shower.  The Hemp-LimeConstruct boys say it will last like that for years, but I quite like a finished white painted look!

Sounded perfect.  That’s when we contacted Will and Alex at Hemp-LimeConstruct.

Was it suitable for ancient buildings?

It is heart breaking that our lovely beams are essentially rotting from the inside out.  Luckily, we have a secret weapon in the form of Joe (no last names given as you might pinch him!).  Joe is a lecturer and very, very, very knowledgeable about ancient buildings, particularly of the timber framed kind.  Joe was very interested in our hempcrete idea.  When Will and Alex came for a site visit to talk about their hempcrete solutions, both we and Joe were there to meet them.  Joe interrogated them and was not left wanting.  If it got passed by Joe, then it would be used on our house.  Joe was on site throughout to see how the hempcrete was applied.  He has been impressed – which is good enough for me.

We want to leave this building in a better state than we found it.  We think that hempcrete is going to help us preseve not only the fabric of the building, but also keep the female members of this family from suffering frost bite!!  The children claim that just the one wall has made a huge and noticeable difference to the internal temperature of their bedrooms.  Can’t wait for the whole house to be covered in hempcrete.

For more photos of our house repair, see the gallery.

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