Thatched houses - keep your home and contents secure with the right insurance

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Live in a thatched house? Your roof could last up to 60 years with the right protection

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From common home repairs including plumbing or electrical mishaps, to more serious incidents like a fire or burglary, home insurance protects your home and its contents and saves you from losing out financially.  

If you’re lucky enough to live under a thatched roof, then you’ll already understand that while thatched homes have an idyllic character and offer oodles of charm, they also come with special responsibilities and maintenance requirements. For your peace of mind, it’s vital to make sure that you’ve got the right insurance to protect your home.

How is a thatched roof different?

Unlike concrete roofs, thatched roofs are made from completely natural materials, and created by traditional methods passed down throughout the centuries. Thatching is made from thick layers of dry long wheat straw, reeds, heather, or other types of vegetation, in a shape that is unique to that structure.

Skilled thatchers maintain some of the UK’s oldest cottages and homes, and also provide new roofs for many property developers and homeowners who prefer this old roofing style. Thatched roofs are durable, sustainable and add real character to the aesthetics of a home. A thatched roof is more expensive to build than standard concrete tiles, but when laid correctly and properly maintained, thatched roofs can last up to 60 years.

What are the benefits of a thatched roof home?

Many people acknowledge the eco-friendly benefits of thatched roofs. They are made from natural, sustainable materials that are often locally sourced, and also provide excellent insulation, allowing homes to retain heat in winter and stay cool in summer. Specifications of the thatch can be altered to suit your needs, such as thicker layers of thatch for more warmth and longer durability. And if you appreciate the quiet life, then you’re likely to enjoy a thatched roof’s ability to muffle the noise of the outside world better than concrete or slate can. 

What should I do if I own a house with a thatched roof?

When purchasing your home insurance policy, always read the details carefully so you understand where and how you are covered.

Be aware that thatched roofs will need ongoing maintenance more often than a standard tile roof due to the perishable materials used are more susceptible to extreme weather, pollution, and general wear and tear, such as decay of the thatch. Make sure you seek advice and only work with experienced thatchers who know their stuff and can advise you on how best to care for your roof. It is also handy to know that by general rule of thumb, the steeper the roof, the slower the decay of the materials. 

Thatched roofs can also pose a fire risk due to the flammability of the materials. So make sure you spray your roof with the recommended fire retardants, such as Thatchsayf.

All chimneys to solid fuel fires/stoves must be lined and be swept annually by a professional

You can also install other materials within your home that are designed to reduce the risk of fire or prevent the spread of a fire within the timber. Any trees directly overhanging the house should also be trimmed back, as they can sometimes dry out the thatch, increasing fire risk.

Your insurer may request your home must contain at least two fire extinguishers, with at least one being in the kitchen. A fire blanket must also be installed in the kitchen.

However, thatched homes are not necessarily any more at risk than those with concrete or slate roofs. As with many houses, large fires in thatched homes are generally caused by electrical faults, overheated modern appliances, wood burners, and dirty chimneys or flues, rather than the thatch catching fire.

Will I have to pay a higher rate on home insurance with a thatched roof?

Due to the age of many thatched roofs, their potential maintenance costs, and the links to fire risks, some insurance companies charge a higher premium to cover them. They may also charge an expensive excess fee for home repairs, including the roof, of which maintenance work is inevitable on thatched homes.

Some insurers will require you to have the electricity wiring inspected every 3 years by a contractor approved by the National Inspection Council of Electrical Installing Contracting (NICEIC) any faults corrected immediately

It may also be a requirement to have the roof inspected by a thatcher or builder every 5 years and any repairs carried out immediately

But don’t worry - lots of home insurance providers, including Admiral, offer expert home insurance policies that are specific to homeowners with thatched roofs.

It is worth seeking advice from professional thatchers, property experts and other thatched roof owners to suss out the best kind of home insurance for you, and only purchase a policy from a recommended provider.

Should I buy a house with a thatched roof?

Thatched homes will always be sought after for their aesthetic appeal and their links to our heritage. Be aware that a lack of regulations for thatching can make it difficult to get a mortgage, but there are specialist financial companies who can advise you.

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