Don’t Fear the Thatcher

Added on August 11th 2018

Without namechecking inflexible former UK PMs too closely, thatched roofs have inspired love, hate and fear in equal measure over the years, but it seems they may be headed for a resurgence. Many rural new-builds are being built with thatched roofs, which would have been unthinkable back in the 1980s and 1990s.

Thatched roofs are found mainly in the West Country, Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Cotswolds, as well as in East Anglia and even a few in Scotland. However, they may be springing up elsewhere from now on, as builders, developers and buyers look for more sustainable materials to build with. Thatch is as sustainable as it comes, because it’s grown, harvested and made into roofs with virtually no machinery. It also has excellent insulation properties – warm in winter, cool in summer, so it reducing heating and air-conditioning bills.

No more fire worries

Modern fire-retardant and detection methods are also helping thatch to get its groove back. One major worry for people with thatched roofs was fire, but now there are specialist sprays for the outside of the roof, as well as chimney heat monitors and alarms, as well as fitted fireproof slabs around the chimney. While these methods won’t always prevent a fire, they certainly offer more time for evacuation and for the fire services to attend.

Surprisingly long-lasting

Another worry is the maintenance of a thatched roof. Many people believe that such roofs need to be replaced every 10-15 years, but this is wrong. The ridge on top of the roof will need to be repaired or replaced more frequently, but the main part of the roof can, if well-maintained, last for 40-50 years. Buyers need to find out when the roof was last thatched and what work has been done in the interim. If a re-work is coming up in the next few years, this should be reflected in the asking price.

A good, safe roof shouldn’t cost more to insure

As long as the roof, or any work done on it, meets current building regulations, if it’s also been fire-proofed it may not cost more to insure than a regular roof. Lots of people are concerned about high premiums for thatched roofs, but there are actually specialist insurers who can offer cover surprisingly cheaply.

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