Mak­ing a move into a THATCHED HOME

Look­ing to buy a thatched prop­erty of your dreams? Here’s what you need to know

EDP Norfolk - - PROPERTY - WORDS: Emily Di­a­mond

There is noth­ing more pic­turesque – and syn­ony­mous with liv­ing in the coun­try­side – than a quin­tes­sen­tial English ‘choco­late box’ dwelling. So if this sounds like your idyl­lic home, the ques­tion is whether or not the re­al­ity lives up to the fan­tasy of liv­ing in such a prop­erty?

David Hen­der­son, head of res­i­den­tial at Sav­ills, main­tains that there are cru­cial el­e­ments to un­der­stand and con­sider be­fore ac­quir­ing such a home, though he also in­sists that ‘all of the cau­tions are hugely out­weighed by the priv­i­lege it is to own such an in­ter­est­ing and de­sir­able home’.

Fac­tors that need to be con­sid­ered care­fully (and fac­tored into your bud­get) in­clude main­te­nance and re­pair of the roof it­self, main­te­nance and care for any chim­neys (to pre­vent fires), and in­sur­ance to cover the prop­erty.

A thatched roof is a very good in­su­la­tor; warm in the win­ter and cool in the sum­mer. A roof is made of lots of hol­low-stemmed reeds that are lay­ered to a thick­ness of 300mm per layer, trap­ping the air in­side them and in­side the thatch as a whole.

There are three most com­monly used ma­te­ri­als: wa­ter reed, pop­u­lar in Nor­folk, wheat reed and long straw.

It is pru­dent to re­search the re­stric­tions as­so­ci­ated with re-thatch­ing. Up­wards of 75% of all thatched prop­er­ties are listed by English Her­itage, which sug­gests that there will be cer­tain re­quire­ments in terms of ma­te­ri­als. More­over, many lo­cal au­thor­i­ties of­fer grants to re­pair listed prop­er­ties, so do check to

see if you are el­i­gi­ble for any such scheme.

If a prop­erty you have your eye on is a lit­tle worse for wear, it is al­ways ad­vis­able to have a full elec­tri­cal check com­pleted be­fore com­mit­ting to a pur­chase, es­pe­cially when look­ing to buy a thatched prop­erty, due to fire haz­ards.

De­pen­dant on where you are, the pitch of the roof, the ma­te­ri­als used and the mi­cro­cli­mate of the area, a thatched roof can be ex­pected to last for be­tween 20 and 60 years. The ridge of the roof also usu­ally has to be re­placed dur­ing the life­span as the ridge can last be­tween eight and 12 plus years, again de­pend­ing upon the type of ridge used.

As with ev­ery­thing else, the cost im­pli­ca­tions for these jobs vary mas­sively de­pend­ing on how much work is re­quired and what ma­te­ri­als are needed for the job. For an av­er­age cot­tage – 30ft long, 16ft from eaves to ridge – a bud­get of around £20,000 would be re­al­is­tic. Most thatch­ers can pro­vide free ad­vice re­gard­ing the con­di­tion of a roof and usu­ally of­fer a rea­son­ablypriced ser­vice to in­spect a roof and pro­vide con­di­tion re­ports for in­sur­ance pur­poses.

Both open coal and log fires are safe so long as the chimney is kept in good or­der. How­ever home own­ers can come across prob­lems with in­sur­ers sur­round­ing the use of wood burn­ing stove as there can be a greater risk of a roof catch­ing fire if the flues and /or lin­ers are faulty or im­prop­erly fited.

A HETAS reg­is­tered en­gi­neer can in­spect the chimney, ad­vise on its con­di­tion and carry out any re­quired works and it is cru­cial to get the chimney swept pro­fes­sion­ally twice a year; once in the au­tumn and once in the spring. thatchad­vice­cen­tre.co.uk

ABOVE: A choco­late box pretty thatched cot­tage – does the re­al­ity live up to the fan­tasy?

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