Top five things you need to know about thatched properties

publication date: May 20, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner

On the one hand many of us love the idea of a chocolate box cottage covered in thatch but on the other hand, we all worry about the potential fire hazard and the cost of maintaining a thatched home.

However, much of the downsides of owning a thatched property are myths. Typically they are no more complicated than owning a normal home with a normal roof. You just need to understand what the differences are between a thatched roof and a tiled one, and know a good Thatcher!
Top five things you need to know about a thatched home:-

1. The Risks of Owning a Thatched Home
The key risks of owning a thatched property include fire and the risk of unwanted rodents inhabiting your roof. However, the risk from fire is much lower now as modern day precautions and treatments mean it’s less likely this will happen, as the thatch can be pre-treated to reduce the spread of fire should it occur. We’ve all probably had birds nesting in our roof, but thatched roofs also attract rats and even squirrels and the best way to keep them from your thatch is to attract them to other areas of the garden via feeding boxes.
2. You need to use the professionals!
Thatching is a skill that’s acquired over time, so make sure you secure the services of a good Thatcher. Remember that a ‘master’ Thatcher hasn’t necessarily taken any exams to get this position, but it should signify they are qualified to do the job. Speak to the person selling the home or nearby neighbours with thatched roofs to ensure you find a reliable Thatcher. Ideally get three quotes and references before any major work, such as fitting a new roof, and ensure the quote is broken down into labour and the type of materials they are planning to use.
3. Costs of re-roofing and maintaining a thatched home
It’s important to be aware that there are different types of thatch which are of differing levels of quality. On average, repairing a thatched roof can cost somewhere between £600-£800 per square foot and can last for just 15-20 years or 30-40 years depending on the quality of thatch and how well it was fitted.
4. Rules and regulations
For many owners of thatched properties you are likely to have to adhere to third party rules and regulations for example, Grade II Listing or the property might be in a Conservation area. Make sure when buying, your legal company clearly states any restrictions on maintaining and extending the property.
5. Secure specialist insurance
Ordinary home insurance will not cover a property that has a thatched roof, mainly because most insurance companies don’t understand that a thatched roof is rarely any more of an insurance risk than a normal one. It is essential that you secure insurance from a specialist company not only because they will be more understanding if you make a claim, but also because the premiums are likely to be more reasonable than a non-specialist company. Contact Towergate Insurance for more information.

So, don’t be put off buying a thatched home, just make sure you understand how to and the cost of maintaining and replacing a thatched roof before you decide to buy and sign on the dotted line!

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