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How Much To Thatch A Roof

Is It More Expensive To Insure A Thatched House

How to Thatch a Roof

Are thatched roofs more expensive to insure ? Expect to pay more for your buildings or contents insurance as a thatched roof is a bigger fire risk than a slate roof. They also have a more expensive rebuild value than conventional houses because theyve been built using specific materials by specialists.

What Is Thatch Made Of

In the UK, there are three main materials used in the construction of a thatched roof: water reed, combed wheat reed and long straw. They each have their qualities and availabilities, and theres some regional variation to the types. Long straw is less prevalent nowadays because farmers tend to grow shorter varieties of wheat as its quicker to grow and easier to harvest. Roof thatching used to be a by-product of agriculture, but now its grown specifically. Most of the reed used in British thatched roofing today is imported, usually from Hungary.

The original thatched roof is attached directly to the roof timbers. Bundles of reeds are fixed to the timbers angled downwards at about 20°, then piled on top of each other so that the final angle of the roof edge is between 45° and 50°. The steeper the outer angle, the better the roof will be at letting water run off, and that will prolong the life of the thatch. However, the steeper the angle, the taller it will need to be, and that means more thatch to pay for so the angle is a compromise between water run-off and cost.

If a thatched roof is well made, water will only penetrate to about 50mm, which is about 20% of the whole depth. Since the dry thatch will have a longer life, its possible to strip off the top layer every ten years or so but leave the lower layers in place. This can save a lot of work in the long run.

Brit Wants To Thatch American Roofs

SYRIA, Va. _ Colin McGhee left England for the United States hoping to thatch Americas roofs. He hasnt found many takers.

Southern England is full of thatch-roofed houses that look like theyre topped with a soft, grassy blanket. But in this country, McGhee estimates, fewer than 30 houses have thatched roofs.

“I thought Id come here and be a millionaire in the first year, McGhee lamented.

To keep busy in America, he and a few other British and Irish thatchers cover buildings in zoos, museums and gardens. McGhee also builds thatch-roofed birdhouses, which sell for $65-$165, to pay the bills between larger jobs.

“Im like Johnny Appleseed, said McGhee, who left his thriving thatch business near London in 1992. “I send these out and its another thatched thing in America.

McGhee, 38, decided to be a thatcher at age 7 after seeing the thatch-topped home of Scottish poet Robert Burns. It was either that, or work at the nuclear power plant near his home in northern England where his dad was a physicist.

“It was the kind of place you want to leave, McGhee said.

At 16, he went to southern England for a five-year apprenticeship. A few years after that, McGhee was a champion thatcher. He employed nine thatchers when he left Finchingfield.

McGhees first roof in America was for a fanciful cottage in Hume, Va., designed by a woman who had never seen real thatch. Anna James worked from ceramic models and contacted McGhee through the London yellow pages.

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How Long Does It Take To Thatch A Roof

The process of thatching a roof takes between six and 10 weeks, according to Andrew Raffle from the National Society of Master Thatchers.

“A lot of thatchers are one man bands so of course that’ll take a lot longer. If it is a one man or two man company, you’re probably talking about six or 10 weeks or there abouts, depending on the complexity of the roof, the access, and other variables. And of course there’s also the weather to consider,” he explains.

Keeping the site tidy and disposing of the materials can also take time. “Often it is composted if possible,” Mr Raffle says. “The thatchers don’t want to take too much off the roof because it changes the thermal properties of the thatch if taking too much off and it can be difficult to dispose of. On balance it is quite nice to take enough off to get a solid foundation to put a new coat of thatch on.”

It’s worth bearing in mind that choosing to thatch your roof can’t be a snap decision. There can be huge waiting lists to even book in to get your roof thatched. Where I live in Suffolk, my neighbours have been told there’s a year waiting list right now and when I enquired about thatching my own roof a couple of years ago, even then there was a six month wait. Speaking to Master Thatcher Scott Sharp in Hampshire, he says he now has a two-year waiting list.

The reason for this is high demand and not enough thatchers. Problems with the supply of materials and the weather can cause delays too.

Do I Need Planning Permission For A Thatched Roof

Synthetic Thatch

You are likely to need planning permission, or you will need to conform to building regulations. This is because many thatched roofs are in properties situated in conservation areas or the houses are listed buildings. If you need help and advice about planning, then pay a visit to your local authority planning department.

You will probably find that any repairs must be like-for-like and you wont be allowed to make any significant changes. A new thatch roof may be subject to certain designs and types so that it blends in with the rest of the homes in the area.

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The Lifespan Of A Thatch Roof

The straw you see on top of these houses werent just plonked there in the 1700s, it has to be redone every few decades! There are a number of different types of thatches and this will dictate how often you will need to fork out for a new one.

Long Straw Once the most common type of thatch in the UK, the basic material for long straw is a cereal straw, usually wheat but sometimes rye. Long straw thatched roofs will last around 20-30 years.

Combed Wheat Reed As with long straw, this type of thatch is based on cereal straw, usually wheat. It is known as reed because of its similarity to water reed in appearance and in the way it is laid on the roof. Combed wheat reed thatched roofs should last upwards of 30 years.

Water Reed Water reed is a wetland plant, which was historically maintained to provide for thatching purposes. Water reed thatch should last at least 30 years, but often 40-50 years, and sometimes longer! This is the longest-lasting type of thatched roof.

Traditional Open Roof Construction

In case of an open construction, the reed is tied onto so-called laths. The reed is applied from bottom to top by means of special tools and galvanized sticks.

This roof type is characterised by an open space between the reed and the substructure, as a result of which air can circulate well. The in- and outside of the roof are thus not strictly separated from each other.

This roofing technique has been applied for centuries, although it is facing increasing competition from a more modern technique.

Advantages of an open construction

+ Proven traditional concept+ Light construction+ Good ventilation in the roof, so moisture can drain off well+ The reed is visible on the inside of the house, which is considered an advantage by some people.

Disadvantages of an open construction

Large waste of energy and draught It is possible to install insulation, but it is not as easy as with a closed construction A lot of dust at the bottom of the roof Flammable, so a higher insurance premium and house insurance is required

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Economic And Environmental Sustainability

As a vernacular and traditional building material, thatching materials were generally chosen because they were inexpensive and convenient to obtain. Today, it can be expensive to keep thatched roofs in good repair as they need regular maintenance.

Historically, thatching materials were usually secondary products, created from agriculture or livestock and land management .

Examples And Realisations Of Thatched Roofs

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In this picture, we can see a beautiful and big thatched roof with a dormer. One can perfectly integrate a dormer into a thatched roof. In this example, the dormer is finished with unique tiles instead of reed. This adds a special touch to the whole, as the dormer immediately catches the eye. Over time, the roof will slightly lose its colour due to the sun, as reed is a natural material. A rustic greyish-brown colour shade will appear.

The material of the ridge tiles is clearly visible here: they are made of ceramic. The colour of these ridge tiles is fully adjustable to the colour of the reed. The combination of the thatched roof and the brick walls gives these houses an authentic and rural appearance.

Thatched roofs do not necessarily have an old-fashioned look. The picture above illustrates that a sleek, modern-looking house can be finished with a thatched roof as well. The white walls contrast with the roof, but they perfectly complement each other at the same time. Moreover, the balcony that is covered with reed looks very stylish.

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What Do Building Codes Say About Thatched Roofs

Homes that have thatched roofs are less likely to burn in a fire than other homes, which makes them fire-resistant. While people worry about thatch being more prone to catching fires, its no more likely than other roofing materials.

That said, if the thatch does get caught on fire, its more likely that the fire will spread. Regular roof maintenance and inspections can help to prevent this.

Thatch is brought up to the fire safety codes and standards by having a fire retardant product sprayed onto it.

What about wind resistance?

While a thatched roof is resistant to wind, an issue with thatched roofs in areas that are prone to hurricanes is that the best roof slope to tolerate wind-driven rain and hurricanes is about 30 degrees.

The issue with thatched roofs is that natural thatch should have a slope of 50 degrees, which is considered ideal, but this slope isnt resistant to hurricane damage.

Are There Maintenance Costs

Just like your car or boiler, regular maintenance is the key to getting good value for money and longevity out of your thatched roof. An annual visit from a thatcher is always a good idea they should be able to inspect your roof and make any small repairs that need doing. This will probably come to less than £1000 a year. You might also have slightly higher home insurance premiums because of the fire risk.

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Material Used In Thatch Roof

Below are the Material used in Thatching:

Material Used in Thatch Roof

Good Quality of Straw can withstand up to 50 Years. Mainly Straw is Applied on over the weathered surface Which is called Spar Coating. In Medieval Period, all of these roofs are thatched with wheat, rye, or a maslin mixture. This Wheat Grow up to 1.8m tall in very poor soil.

2. Water Reed

Water Reed is most Commonly used material in Thatching. It takes 45 Acres of land of very much oversaw reed bed to deliver sufficient reed to cover a normal house, and enormous reed beds have been extraordinary in a large portion of England since the Anglo-Saxon time frame.

3. Palm

In many Area, Palm leaves are used on the wall and Rooftop of the house. Many species of palm trees are called thatch palm.

How To Maintain A Thatched Roof

Best Quality Recyclable Decorative Synthetic Straw Thatch Roof India ...

While you have to have your thatched roof inspected annually to prevent problems, you should also do your own inspections. Here are some important thatched roof maintenance rules to follow.

  • Remove leaves and debris from your thatched roof whenever you see it. You can do this yourself with a rake thats safe for use on thatched roofs.
  • Trim bushes and trees. If these are growing around your thatched roof, you should trim them regularly to prevent them from falling onto the roof and providing the perfect dark and damp conditions for fungi and rot to occur.
  • Brush the thatch every few years. You should brush the roof every five or so years to ensure that its not rotting or becoming damaged. Brushing also helps to make the roof look as good as new.
  • Grass-thatched roofs are susceptible to moss and algae, which is why you have to use fungicides to keep these at bay.
  • Avoid foot traffic on your thatched roof. You should avoid unnecessarily propping ladders against your thatched roof or walking on it too much. This is because it can produce divots in the roof, which will decrease the thatchs lifespan.
  • Cover your thatched roof with wire netting so that you prevent birds and pests from damaging it.
  • Look for signs that your thatched roof requires maintenance or repair, such as that there are hollow areas in the thatch, the wire netting has become raised on the ridge of the thatched roof, or you can see some moss starting to form.

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Factors Affect The Durability Of Thatched Roofs

The first thing to understand is that there are a number of factors that will affect the durability of a thatched roof.

1. Type of Cover The first and most obvious factor would be what type of cover is being used for the roof.

Some materials will last longer than others. In Britain, the most common types of thatch used for roofs are rye and wheat straw.

2. Location The location where a thatched roof is installed can have an effect on how much wear and tear that it will endure over time.

An area with a great deal of rain or high wind could affect how much a thatched roof will have to be replaced.

3. Types of Thatch An area with a high amount of rainfall could mean using Durable or Semi-Durable thatch.

Many homeowners prefer the look and type of thatch, but if these variables are present then it may be best to install a different type.

4. Pitch The pitch of a roof will affect how much thatch is exposed. An area with high wind or rain will require a steeper pitch in order to allow the water to be directed away from it.

5. Moisture On an annual basis, most thatched roofs are exposed to more moisture than they would have been if they had been covered with tiles.

If the average rainfall is more than 100 inches per year, it might be necessary to consider using sub-normal thatches or other materials instead of rye straw.

Faq #: If You Have A Thatch Roof Your Entire House Is Going To Go Up In Flames

If you have a house at all, and it is somehow set on fire, were not going to lie, it might go up in flames. But thats a possibility for any house built with any material! The misconception here is that thatch is more flammable than traditional roofing materials and therefore, you might be more likely to have an issue. Any material will catch fire if a flame is present, thatch is just more susceptible to burning faster or smoldering. But all of this can be avoided by applying a fire retardant, which can be applied to some natural thatches and all of amaZulus synthetic thatches.

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What Is A Thatched Roof

Thatching included as one of the crafting activities for the roofing process. Build with dry vegetation materials including water reed, heather, straw, rushes, and also palm branches. You need to layering the vegetation to make sure if the shed would help the water run away.

The vegetation should be dry which can be used to trapping air and functionate as the insulation. This method has been used for almost 100.000 years ago. Most of the users lived in a tropical area including in developing country to minimize the use of budget.

For those who loved to have rustic design for their house thatched concept can be beneficial to applied. Besides it is one of the Eco-friendly roof ideas to use vegetation material around us. In UK, this type of roof is quite popular and people appreciate their aesthetic quality.

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Will I Need Specialist Home Insurance For A Thatched Roof

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Most standard insurers will cover thatched roofs, but it will be at a premium. It may well be worth asking an insurance broker to find you quotes with insurance companies that specialise in thatched roofs. A specialist company may not have the same restrictions as a standard company, and your cover may be more comprehensive.

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How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Thatched Roof With Tiles

Sometimes, the maintenance of thatch becomes too much to cope with, or the problems start to outweigh the benefits. At this point, property owners may wish to consider replacing their thatched roof with a conventional tiled one.

This can be tricky, time-consuming and costly, as its necessary for the roofing contractor to strip away all traces of the thatch, reveal the bare timbers and start the roofing process from square one.

The cost of installing a tiled roof can vary, again depending on things like size and materials. reports that the current average price is £5,500, with prices ranging from £3,000 up to £16,300.

For a thatched property, the cost would be at the higher end of this, as the thatch would have to be completely removed and the structure for tiles would need to be put in place.

Property owners shouldnt forget to factor in the cost of skip hire and, of course, scaffolding.

They also should be aware they may be devaluing their home as thatched cottages assume a premium, even though they may be a pain to maintain.


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