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The Chocolate Box Dream

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Many dream of owning an idyllic thatched cottage in the countryside, however as pretty as they look, there are matters you should consider before purchasing a thatched property.

Firstly, let’s focus on the positives – of course they look absolutely charming, they are made from sustainable materials and are extremely insulating – owning a thatch will make you the envy of many.

How thatch looks will vary depending on the region, for example steep roofs in water reed and rolled long straw gables in East Anglia or rounded cosy cottages in Devon reed in the West Country. The ridge section designs may also differ.

The materials mainly used are water reed, combed wheat reed (Devon reed) and long straw.

A thatched roof will require far more maintenance than a slate or tiled roof. They usually need replacing every 20-30 years, with the ridge section requiring replacement even more frequently – timescales will of course depend on how the roof has been maintained.

Regular maintenance is necessary to deal with matters such as moss or vermin/bird damage.

Prior to your purchase, take extra care to investigate the condition of the roof and ask an expert for their opinion as to likely repair/replacement timescales and renovation costs. There may be some room for negotiation on the purchase price if the costs look to be extensive in the near future.

Thatched properties can pose a fire risk and it is imperative that you have the electrics and any chimney flues checked and swept both prior to your purchase and regularly in the future. Insurers may require evidence of this. Consequently, insurance costs may be slightly higher, although some companies provide specialist insurance so do shop around.

Note that many thatched properties are listed buildings and therefore subject to much tighter planning controls. Any changes to the roof will require listed building consent so take care to check the appropriate consents are in place if changes have been made and before you make any changes in the future.

The Thatch Advice Centre provides a wealth of helpful information.

Jenny Woodruff


Jenny Woodruff


Jenny is a Partner and head of the Residential Conveyancing Team. She has extensive knowledge of the conveyancing process, including: dealing with freehold and leasehold sales & purchases; new build purchases; remortgages; transfers of equity; shared ownership; help to buy transactions & general property advice.