Search the website

Technical blog - What to consider when thinking of buying a thatched property

— 18 Sep 2018 by John Alexander


#634

Monitoring thatching in progress

#633

Thatched roof in need of replacement

#635

Newly thatched roof in the local tradition

thatch detail

Thatch is a fantastic traditional material and one of the oldest types of roof covering. A vernacular  building tradition, thatch has evolved alongside changes in the farming industry.

However, there is a great deal of misinformation about the material and the risks of owning a thatch property, including fire risks, maintenance and dust.

Here’s what to consider before buying a thatch property:

Insurance - You must be satisfied that you can insure your property.  There are some insurance companies that specialise in insurance of thatched buildings and you should contact insurers at the outset to see what issues they consider high risk.

It is often considered that insurance risks are mainly fire and vermin.  However, current advice in the public domain is outdated and based on questionable science. 

The biggest fire risk is now thought to be smouldering brands being expelled from a chimney or elsewhere rather than the heat generated within a flue. This risk can be minimised by choosing the right solid fuel stove and controlling use.

Maintenance - Many areas have a local thatching tradition and if the building is listed you will be expected to maintain your thatch to this tradition, so that the historical setting isn’t diminished.

In the South West, the tradition has been to thatch with a wheat straw a tradition called Combed Wheat Reed (CWR).  In the last few decades this has been replaced with water reed as the length of the reed tends to be longer and the material was more readily available.  Yet, some thatchers are still giving the same advice as 20 years ago even though the situation has drastically changed.

In recent years, water reed has become less durable and new straw growers have come to the market so the supply and quality of CWR has improved.

You should consider maintenance carefully; water reed maintenance involves complete removal of the thatch, whereas the maintenance of CWR involves the renewal of a top coat only – a much smaller amount of material and work.

Before buying a thatched property, it is advisable to talk to at least two local thatchers about its existing condition and what they would recommend as a maintenance programme.  They can also provide budgets for this work.

For more information visit the Conservation of Traditional Thatch website or click here for contact details of thatchers.  

Jonathan Rhind Architects can advise on thatch in the CWR tradition, especially if you find you are getting conflicting advice from local thatchers. Get in touch with us here.

Recent posts

From the archive

Social feed

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-09-13 13:14:24)

    Pond Cottage is a picture-postcard cottage run as a holiday let by the @LandmarkTrust, sitting in Repton’s enchanti… https://t.co/apwfAwGcqV

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-09-10 13:03:52)

    Read about the ongoing works at a Manor house in the beautiful Quantock hills area of outstanding natural beauty.… https://t.co/BGHqCVprY3

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-09-09 10:48:34)

    Jonathan Rhind at work up the ladder surveying the Jubilee Clock tower on the seafront at Exmouth – continuing prob… https://t.co/65MwYKPZRB

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-09-04 08:20:18)

    It is always interesting to revisit old jobs and see how the landscape has changed. Beautiful walled garden… https://t.co/kq8B3uBGKU

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-09-02 13:17:16)

    A selection of cornices. Before and after cleaning of existing cornice, and new cornice stonework for extension to… https://t.co/m4X7Uer91u

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-20 15:13:19)

    Another thatched farmhouse from St Fagans National Museum of History. Timber-framed (woven hazel rods and daub wall… https://t.co/FndsArnPDq

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-19 13:47:15)

    A rather atmospheric view towards Dartmoor as a storm was brewing. Taken by Director Martin Sturley-Hayes last week… https://t.co/T22OnXZH0u

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-19 09:32:32)

    Architectural Assistant Andreas Hofmeyr took some great photos at the St Fagans National Museum of History. These a… https://t.co/0RKAkWWDFe

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-14 15:30:48)

    We are looking forward to exhibiting at the Listed Property Show at the Passenger Shed in Bristol on 21st September… https://t.co/TgmByazjMV

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-12 13:07:47)

    Corey Sutherland has returned to work in our Taunton office over the summer. Read about his time as an Architecture… https://t.co/tuMUAQvN8w

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-12 12:46:48)

    RT @NatChurchTrust: CALLING ALL FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL CHURCHES TRUST- our annual Friends Vote is now open! Help us decide which of the…

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-07 12:49:14)

    We are pleased to congratulate Rick Gilroy on achieving his MCIAT qualification following his interview last week a… https://t.co/SRrwNzmCxR

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-07 10:31:53)

    Grade I listed Church of St Peter, Tawstock peering out above the treeline @CofEDevon @HistoricEngland #morningrun… https://t.co/U17zi4mKlw

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-06 10:57:21)

    A coastal tower in St Brelade, Jersey braced for the incoming storm. Built in the late 18th Century and now partly… https://t.co/cJJFVqen8f

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-06 08:06:42)

    A few more details of Stave Church, Lom in Norway #churcharchitecture #heritage #lovearchitecture #architectstravels https://t.co/ry7HY5U8Pq

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-05 12:26:26)

    A few images of Lom Stave Church, Norway from Director, Jonathan Rhind’s recent trip #churcharchitecture #heritage… https://t.co/GQLyYtdpOe

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-02 16:28:05)

    What a location! Perched on the rocks of the wild North Devon coast, Mill House has recently undergone a programme… https://t.co/Lps8hZZm3D

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-08-02 16:07:52)

    Due to an ever increasing workload, we are recruiting in our Taunton office. Have a look at our recruitment page to… https://t.co/Wf67srqF7o

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-24 11:52:18)

    Director Julian Clayton visited the Charming St Enodoc Church immortalised in one of Betjeman’s best-loved poems, i… https://t.co/qtT6yzy9Lo

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-24 11:24:52)

    It is great to have Corey back, if only briefly before he returns to university. Read about his time as an Architec… https://t.co/qxhL9On561

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-23 12:58:09)

    New upper Bathstone cornice and coping stones being made for a Regency villa #architecturaldetails #stonemasons… https://t.co/j1m5LJomCM

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-22 13:10:59)

    RT @PortEliotFest: Well, 3 days to go now, give or take, so here are some things it may be useful to know: what's on on Thursday, how to bo…

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-22 12:52:56)

    With this warm weather, we thought you might want a reminder of our blog about natural swimming pools, which establ… https://t.co/40nZENOOBA

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-17 12:36:49)

    Jonathan Rhind Architects working with Dartmoor National Park are pleased to announce successful grant awards from… https://t.co/zBndaQGLy9

  • Jonathan Rhind (2019-07-17 11:24:17)

    A couple more of Julian’s sketches from Port Isaac #sketching #drawingoftheday #architects https://t.co/9kU4jRyho7

Get in touch to see how we can help you

Contact us
Scroll up