Thatch roof owners, Thatching Information, for anyone responsible for the upkeep or interest in thatched property
Written & maintained by an independent Thatcher with over 45 years experience of both thatching and living under thatch
I hope this site will help you to avoid any expensive mistakes. I am semi retired so have no financial interest in thatching now, I do not act as an agent for anyone, No adverts here, all you will find for sale is my thatching book, moss removal, demonstration details and home visit costs - all clearly priced, 'sales' help keep this site independent
Approximately the number of thatched buildings in England decreased from one million in 1800 to 35,000 by 1960 due mainly to mechanisation and transport enabling other materials to be used. Today there are around 24,000 listed thatched buildings in the United Kingdom some 5% new build and 1500 individuals engaged in thatching
I am very aware that some do not have the faintest idea on costs, very roughly Thatching costs around £100/£120 m2 (total surface area of finished roof)
A survey can be arranged for you from £10 see at survey at the bottom of this page
A YOU TUBE TASTER OF THE PROCESS ADJUST VIEWER TO HIGH DEFINITION
www.thatch.org/order.htm will take you to the details of how to own your own full copy with the whole hut thatching as shown and Norfolk reed laying all in a fair quality DVD format, booklet included with CD of content and extrasPost paid £8 UK
Click on item for more details Summary of contents
The three main thatching materials are Combed Wheat Reed, Long Straw and Norfolk Reed. Not only are these materials applied differently, various features on the roof and local techniques will mean that application methods and material selection will be different according to the area of the country. Ideally your Thatcher should be local, or at least able to maintain these variations, they should know local conditions and construction methods.
Even if your property does not fall within the official listing of historic property it is suggested that you consult your local council conservation officer for a list of local Thatcher's and advice but do not solely rely on it. Make sure that you ascertain that the thatching firm is competent to carry out the work yourself.
Preferably they should be a member of one of the Thatching County Associations, Although it must be pointed out that Thatcher's cannot even agree to a truly national body most of these do have standards for members and some, Like the Rutland & Leicestershire have dispute procedures
When you get two or three Thatcher's to estimate, ask them for examples of thatching they have done similar to your thatched roof you can see, not just recently completed ones as even a poor thatched roof will look good for a short time. No legitimate Thatcher is going to object, all reputable ones would be delighted that you have taken the trouble.
Make sure that you have a physically measurable specification in the estimate, not only will this provide further evidence of competence (see sample basic estimate) if there is a dispute, both sides have a physically measurable base line. Also see Specifications for more detail, your estimate may not follow these and a good reason may exist, ask why.
Unfortunately there are a few 'cowboys' among so called Thatcher's. For example the term "Master Thatcher" is frequently used but now does not necessarily imply any expertise. There are cases of Thatcher's falsely claiming membership of various organisations and even false organisations. It is also essential to check your Thatcher has public liability insurance, the 'cowboy' invariably will not have any. It is your property at risk.
A master craftsman, including Thatcher's were a member of a guild. In the European guild system, only master craftsmen were allowed to actually be member of the guild.
An aspiring master man would have to pass through the career chain from a formal apprenticeship to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would have to produce a masterpiece's) before he could actually join the guild. In guilds the master craftsman has strict obligations, one of which was to take on an apprentice to ensure the survival of the craft and guild. Rutland and Leicestershire Master Thatcher's Association being such a guild adhere to these principles. An aspiring master man would have to pass through the career chain from a formal apprenticeship to journeyman before he could be elected to become a master craftsman. He would have to produce a masterpiece's) before he could actually join the guild. In guilds the master craftsman has strict obligations, one of which was to take on an apprentice to ensure the survival of the craft and guild. Rutland and Leicestershire Master Thatcher's Association being such a guild adhere to these principles. (Click Here For Our Members)
A genuine Thatcher will always be prepared to explain and detail in writing any proposed work. Some excellent Thatcher's are extremely eccentric, It is a craft that attracts us, so be prepared for the unusual. The 'cowboy' element is small including enthusiastic amateurs, don't help them. Also remember that you will have to 'live' with your Thatcher for the duration of the work!
Would you accept an estimate "To do a garden" without knowing exactly what work was to be done, far too many accept "To thatch your roof in straw" for several thousand pounds, it is unfortunately a case of let the buyer beware if you do so.
There are internet sites offering membership of thatch oriented groups, insurance schemes, services and surveying, again some of these do not have any expertise or interest in the thatched roof, just your money. Check for the obvious like no personal name and address shown, PO Box numbers and just mobile phone contacts. Compare, some of these do not have any expertise or interest in the thatched roof, just your money. Also compare insurance quotes for thatch with main line companies as well, it may be time consuming but financially rewarding for you!
You may well have to wait up to 2 years to have major work done, apart from unexpected cancellation or delay on a contract few thatching firms are going to be able start immediately unless of course two or three roofs are being thatched at the same time with consequent delays to yours. Thatching is also more competitive than you may think. Don't be panicked into accepting possible inferior work, temporary repairs will keep you dry if the worst happens. Despite today's 'immediate' society you will just have to go with the pace of our rural trade.
In the 45 or so years I have been involved with thatching I have seen Thatcher's increase in numbers from 200 to around 1,500, in the early days very few deliberately deceived, you got what you paid for, now with some so called thatching courses and other spurious thatch training schemes, franchising and recently sub contracting to mainly Eastern European 'Thatcher's' not to mention straightforward confidence tricksters care must be taken.
It takes 2 to 4 years to become a Thatcher capable of undertaking the simplest roof, and this trained by a competent master of the craft. No one can claim to know every aspect, we are dealing with non standard property, and non standard materials.
We in the UK have the most diverse different styles of thatching in the world, and to the highest quality suitable for for all pitched roofs, the patterned ridge is unique to Britain, newly built property is now becoming popular with an almost unlimited scope for in particular sweeping lines impossible to attain with other conventional roofing systems. Initial EMAIL advice as to the feasibility of your project will be free from me
Please inform yourself as much as possible, I live in a thatched property myself - as a Thatcher and owner I know some of the problems that can arise. If you have a problem not covered on this site, email me at no cost to you. Professional on site reports & surveys are carried out by me in person at minimum cost. Also help with small projects See survey To maintain impartiality I am not willing to recommend individuals or firms to you.
I have been accused of being a 'poacher turned gamekeeper' by some in the thatching fraternity I admit to the charge! but the honest & experienced in the craft have nothing to fear from me - I consider that the most important link in the chain is the person who ultimately pays the bills and it is difficult to get information about this craft.
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