Making a move into a THATCHED HOME
Looking to buy a thatched property of your dreams? Here’s what you need to know
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?