Shortly after developing the nation’s first hemp house on wheels, Coexist Build has launched the Traveler, a DIY cabin made from hempcrete. The 140-square-foot tiny house kit was created partly in response to the pandemic, says architect Anastasiya Konopatskaya, who founded Coexist Build with her husband, Drew Oberholtzer. "We were struggling to get our work done with two small children at home," he says. "We kept thinking—if only we could have a tiny office in the backyard."
"We have spent 3 years building and designing with hempcrete, so it was only natural for us to combine our experience of building small homes with healthy, unconventional construction," Oberholtzer explains. "And so a ‘shelter with purpose’—a healthy, sustainable space for any need—was born."
In addition to their design practice, the husband-and-wife duo owns and operates a regenerative organic farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania, that doubles as a research and development lab for experimenting with healthy, plant-based building materials.
Since the hemp industry in the US is still maturing, the couple imports raw materials from Europe with the hope of sourcing locally in the near future. The couple use mineral-based binders to manufacture cured hempcrete blocks in their own facility 10 miles from their farm. All timber used in the Traveler kit is sourced locally from FSC-certified forests and milled by local craftsmen.
"When hemp, lime, and water are combined, it creates an assembly that is mold, fire, and insect-resistant. It’s perfect for climates like ours in the Northeast, but also for humid places like Florida and dry ones like California," explain the couple.
"Hempcrete helps regulate temperature and moisture inside a space with minimum variation, thus minimizing heating/cooling costs during the colder and warmer seasons—it is estimated that you save about 40% in those costs," they say. "The plaster finish on the exterior and interior requires minimum maintenance in the long run, and in addition, hemp is a regenerative plant with a short growing cycle."
The hemp and wood used in the kit are free from formaldehyde, VOCs, and allergens. All other materials in the kit were carefully selected based on their environmental and health impact. "This is the first hemp-and wellness-based DIY kit on the market," say the couple.
Pricing for the 140-square-foot Traveler kit house starts at $26,900. Each kit comes with an illustrated instruction manual along with labeled precut parts that are designed to be assembled by a team of two to four people in a few weekends. The only tools needed are an electric drill, a screw gun, and a mallet.
Officially launched on Earth Day 2021, the Traveler DIY kit is now available for preorder with a $500 deposit. Production will begin once a minimum of five preorders has been met.
Structural Engineer: Jellen Engineering Services
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