• The incidence of Fire in thatch is often overstated. When fire in thatched
properties occurs it is often started by means associated with fires starting
in all kinds of housing. Therefore, all the normal and sensible precautions
to avoid household fires should be taken.
Take advice from your local Fire Authority.
• Fire precautions for thatch are given in " The Care & Repair
of Thatched Roofs " published by The SPAB* and the COUNTRYSIDE AGENCY.
It is recommended you purchase this leaflet, available from either of
the publishing bodies.
• Do not build, rebuild or design chimneys which pass close to or through
thatch without appropriate expert advice.
• Do not pass metal and other heat conducting flues through thatch.
• Keep chimneys in good condition. Repoint or line as necessary.
• Do not hold barbecues, bonfires or firework parties close to the house.
Try to influence neighbours to be sensible with garden fires.
• Keep an appropriate length of non kink hose at hand and if possible
attached to a tap.
• Ensure any person working in or on the house is aware of the dangers
which unthinking use of naked flame can bring.
• Do not allow use of blow lamps in the roof space.
• Do not allow flame stripping of paint around eaves on thatched windows.
• Plumbing joints can be made with compression fittings.
• Run electric wire in conduit.
• Television/radio aerials should be mounted if possible, so that they
do not overhang the roof. The cable kept clear of the roof surface and
not taken through the roof space/attic.
• Any rethatch or major ridge job should have all material taken from
around the chimney so that it can be checked and repaired if needed.
• As the temperature changes in a thatch roof space do not vary as much
as other roof coverings despite makers recommendations smoke alarms should
be considered, low voltage mains powered linked alarms are available.
Most thatch fires start in the roof space and due to the thickness may
not be apparent for many hours.
CONSERVATION GRANTS VAT
You must have listed building consent by law before you attempt changes
to any listed building, this includes the thatch. Speak to the conservation
department of your Local Authority especially about any features you consider
unusual. This is particularly important if you are about to re thatch
or repair a thatched roof. Delays can be caused and work disrupted if
you are not careful on this matter. Work can be stopped and reinstatement
of existing features Insisted upon. Dialogue at an early stage between
the owner, architect, builder, thatcher and Local Authority can avoid
this and other difficulties which may occur. Also much useful advice can
be gained from your Local Authority Conservation Department.
These are often available for rethatching and sometimes for repairing
thatch. Grants usually fail Into two basic categories:
 An Historic Buildings Grant  An Environmental Health Grant
For  contact the Conservation/Planning Department of your Local Authority
For  contact the Environmental Health Department of your Local Authority
where a grant is sometimes made depending on the rateable value.
A few thatched buildings are listed by the Department of the Environment
as grade two star. In this case grant aid is sometimes available direct
from English Heritage* Again contact through the conservation Department
of your Local Authority.
• Never assume zero rating on thatch.
• Occasions for zero rating are rare and may include:-
Putting thatch on a new building
Rethatching a listed building where listed building consent has been
give for a change in roof shape or design
Extensions to existing building.
• Change from one thatch type to another even including the complete
removal of thatch and replacement of rafters, does not mean zero rating.
• Always have written agreement with the Customs and Excise on zero rating
before you commence work.
• Always have written agreement and consent with local Planning and Conservation
BUILDING FOR NEW THATCH AND EXTENSIONS TO EXISTING THATCHED PROPERTY
• Consult with a good, experienced thatcher at the early design stages
on roof construction, pitch, shape and overall design. Inform him of all
alterations to the design.
• Decide on the material to be used at the outset. There may be design,
planning/conservation or material constraints.
• Decisions of an informed nature will need to be taken on where any
intended joins to existing thatch can be made. Existing material type
and condition will need to be assessed.
• Present thatch levels, thickness and related elevations will be due
to the existing number of coats of thatch. It is possible the existing
thatch cannot be matched with the application of a new single coat. This
must be considered in the design or costed to allow the build up of new
thatch to existing thickness.
• Discuss with your thatcher at a very early stage to discover the options
and their cost.
• Make sure any person (even in a profession) has true expertise before
accepting any comments related to the use and performance of thatch.
"The Thatchers Craft " published by the Rural Development Commission
(Now The COUNTRYSIDE AGENCY) Known as the thatchers bible, sadly out of
Now available for free download in PDF format at -: