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By Jean Lotus
A Wisconsin company sold its first hemp tiny home this spring made with a hempcrete panel system installed in only five hours.
Zachary Popp, founder of Wittenberg, WI-based Sativa Building Systems, built the Cultivated Tiny Home on wheels last fall using his Z-panel technology.
“I want people to realize that it’s very possible to have a home that maximizes sustainably sourced materials, but is also non toxic, with no VOC materials,” Popp told HempBuild Mag.
The tiny home, 24 feet long by 12 feet wide, is 240 sq. feet and has a full kitchen and bath with a sleeping loft. The home is built on a trailer that was custom-made for tiny homes with two 7,000-pound axles.
Looking at the home, you’d never guess the inside insulation was made of hemp, and that’s intentional, Popp said. “One of my goals with hempcrete and this is what I think it’ll take for wide-scale market adoption, is to make homes that look kind of conventional.”
The home is sided with hidden-fastener steel siding, with an air gap to allow the hemp-lime material inside to remain vapor permeable. Inside the walls are finished with vapor permeable shiplap wood plank walls, finished with hemp stains from Real Milk Paint Co.
Popp grew up in a building family and spent part of his career in college admissions and as a personal trainer. But it was moving into a family home with mold problems that got him interested in the mold- and rot-resistant properties of hemp.
Midwest Natural Fiber
In “mad scientist mode” in his garage, Popp said he experimented with hemp hurd imported from France even before the 2018 Farm Bill legalized the growing of industrial hemp in the United States.
Luckily, the hemp used in the tiny home was grown only 120 miles away in Minnesota, a result of US farmers expanding into hemp cultivation.
Popp came up with the 24-inch Z-Panel system after lots of experimentation.
The Sativa panel system is a panel that can be quickly installed around wood framing. Some panels feature a vertical furring strip embedded into the exterior side to allow air flow if conventional siding is used, Popp said. Popp said his panel system works well with lumber framing because “both of those components are pretty forgiving” allowing for a quicker installation.
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Sativa Building Systems
Popp has been moving forward with certification and recently won the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Elevator Pitch Olympics with his 90-second pitch seeking $300,000 in investment.
Sativa Building systems was advertising the tiny home for $110,000, and after selling the first one, Popp plans to build more, with custom features, as requested by customers.
The tiny homes will subsidize his business while the Z-Panel system is undergoing code-compliance testing and certification, he said.
“The core of our business is selling the panels and other products, but a division of our business is going to be selling this kind of home,” he added.
Watch a video of hempcrete Z-panels being installed in 5 hours below:
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Originally published March 21, 2023 on Hemp Building Mag