My visit to The Hemp Bungalow in the small town of Aberdare in the Welsh valleys began with my feeling that I must not have the right address.
The 1950s bungalow-style cottage is tucked away on the winding Brynheulog Terrace and has the feeling of a home that has been in place for many years, sitting solidly on its Welsh pennant sandstone plinth, as is traditional for this region. Upon entering the front door, my first impression was reinforced as the modest home has a very established and peaceful feel for a property that was still having the final finishing touches added by master builder Grant Avon, 41, of Avon & Co Building Consultants Ltd.
Avon was briefed to design and build the three-bedroom, two-bathroom 87m² / 936 ft² house on a greenfield site by David Naydorf – a longtime family friend and former business partner of Avon’s grandfather – and Naydorf’s son Leon. Given that his client was seeking a quality build and was open to using environmentally friendly materials, and having had success with an experiment using hempcrete on a small section of his own home about four years ago, Avon saw an opportunity to undertake what he describes as the first commercially available building in Wales constructed using hempcrete.
The level of care that has been taken with both the building method and materials choice was apparent everywhere I looked. As is common in the United Kingdom, the structure has been built on a standard strip foundation with blockwork to the damp-proof course and has a regular timber frame, however Avon was able to gain a cost-saving on the build by using slightly smaller-than-average lumber due to the stabilizing nature of the hempcrete material that is packed around the studs.