Thatched Owners Group
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PE12 0NR

Telephone: 01406 330007
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Q. We have a problem with water getting in between the thatch and one of our chimneys. The chimney isn't on the ridge line, but comes from the thatch about six feet below. We're told that the lead flashing needs looking at. Our thatcher says he doesn't have the right experience.

B Webster Wiltshire

A. Your thatcher is right. If you have a problem with lead flashing you need to contact a lead specialist to remedy the problem. We recommend you telephone the Lead Contractors Association: telephone: 01342 317 888 and they will give you the details of qualified contractors in your area. They also have a web site containing useful information:
Q. We are considering buying a listed thatched property and would like to know what is meant by a Listed Building?

A Milne: Suffolk

A. The area you are looking in comes under Suffolk Coastal District Council and they produce an excellent pamphlet called "Listed Buildings - A Guide for Owners and Occupiers", I have taken the following from it:

"A Listed building is defined as one which is of special architectural or historic interest, which has been included in a "List"compiled by the Government as required by Act of Parliament. The term"building" as used in the Town and Country Planning Act covers a wide range man-made structures and can include things such as bridges, walls, gates, telephone boxes, village pumps and many others. Once buildings are added to the List they are placed in one of three grades. Grade 1 (1.4% of the total) and grade 11* (4.1% of the total) are for the most important buildings, nationally. The majority (94.5%) are Listed Grade 11."

Q. My family and I have recently purchased our property which consists of a 17th Century thatched cottage with new extension (kitchen) and further newer extensions (lounge, bathroom and three further bedrooms). On the Estate Agent details it stated that the thatched part could be used as a separate annex. In order for us to do this we would need to turn one of the bedrooms into a bathroom as the cottage only has a sitting room that is now a dining room and two bed- rooms. Do you think the necessary planning consents can be obtained? Currently, you have to go through the kitchen to reach the bathroom in the new part of the house. Please advise.

K Roberts via e-mail

A. Our surveyor replies:

Given the layout of the property and the effects such works would have, I confirm that planning approval would not be required. I do believe however, that Listed Building Consent may be necessary depending upon the extent of the alterations or whether excessive damage would be caused to the fabric of the building by the works. I suggest that, as the works are minor, you contact your Conservation Officer direct, and revert to us if there are any problems.

Q. I would like details please of grant availabilities for re-thatching and loft insulation?

Member: Warwickshire.

I have contacted your Conservation Officer regarding grants for re-thatching. He will come out to your property and inspect the roof. The grant available in your particular area is means tested although this is not always the case. It would be advisable to obtain three quotes from thatchers before your Officer arrives. We can organise this for you if you so wish. There are a number of avenues available to obtain grants for loft insulation. The first is the Home Energy Efficiency Scheme which is a national grant, and the telephone number for further information is: 0800 3166 011. Another option is to contact both your electricity and gas supplier. You will need to contact them direct as the householders themselves must make the application. They have a number of schemes for loft insulation. Finally, I have contacted your local council and have enclosed a contact name and telephone number as there is a 30% discount on loft insulation schemes which they are currently running themselves.

Q. I've just found your very interesting web-site and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction for some general information please. We will be viewing a thatched property in Essex next week. The house looks wonderful from the details we have and we're all getting excited about it, even though we've not seen it properly yet. The one thing we don't know is anything about thatched roofs, so I'm look- in for general information about thatched roofs and, in particular, the immediate questions that come to mind:

What should we look for, ask about, with respect to the roof?

What sort of maintenance and repair does a thatched roof need?

How should we estimate what the on- going costs of maintaining or repairing the roof might be?

Is there anything specific we need to be aware of in terms of insuring a thatched house?

The property has one open fire and one wood burning stove and I was wondering if there were any issues about using such fires in a thatched house?

Anything else I should be aware of when contemplating buying such a property? Any pointers would be gratefully received.

R. Thorp Via E-mail.

A.Because you have so many different questions, I am posting you one of our fact sheets to start with. This answers many of your questions regarding maintenance of the roof, costs involved etc, as well as information on open fires, wood burning stoves etc. I suggest you contact our Specialists Insurance Division on 01406 330007. They will be able to personally advise you and provide a quote. If you wish to have the property surveyed, please give us a call and we will organise it for you.

Q. I have recently purchased a thatched property in Kent and have had the local thatcher to advise on the condition of the roof. He has recommended a total stripping of the roof and re-thatching at a considerable cost. I understand there are independent semi-retired thatchers who will visit a property and provide a less biased opinion, can you help?

P Flanagan, Via E-mail

A. We have organised for one of our experts to visit your property. He will telephone you to arrange a convenient time and give you details of the report he will provide and the cost to you.