We were thinking about thatching quotations and then we saw an article on what not to say to your builder! Got us thinking about writing an article but in a positive way. We thought clarifying things would be helpful, especially in light of recent reported incidents.
Why this Article?
Sadly, we have been contacted regarding too many problems lately. Both from homeowners with situations with their thatchers and also thatchers with issues with their clients. This article is designed to assist and reduce the headaches… for all of us by talking about good thatching quotations. The Thatch Advice Centre are happy to liaise with thatchers and home owners alike as our priority is promoting the best thatching practices and communicating with everyone. We are not the thatch police but have access to a variety of specialists who can help, should the need arise.
Useful Points on Thatching Quotations
So here are some useful points to consider on thatching quotations-
- Understand exactly what work is needed to be done on your roof.
- Get more than one quote, we recommend at least three. If a thatcher has worked on a roof successfully before then they would be an obvious choice to ask but get competitive quote from others (sometimes it’s good to include a quote someone less local too).
- Is the quotation in writing, if not ask for it to be so and on a document identifying the business location and contact details etc. Putting things in writing is always a good way to avoid misunderstandings.
- If your property is listed it should be repaired “like for like” same material and same style. Make sure your thatcher can get the right materials and apply them correctly to meet those requirements. If not you will need Listed Building Consent to change.
- There is no overall governing body for thatchers and in our calculations four out of five are not paid members of any organisation. We would say there are good and bad thatchers in all areas of the thatching world, so choose carefully and maybe don’t let membership of an organisation be your deciding factor. The term Master Thatcher is used by all thatchers nowadays.
- Understand when the works are anticipated to start, with an indicative timescale on completion– obviously weather dependent. Are the thatching firm going to be working on only one project at a time? Also if there is a big waiting list it is hard for the thatcher to know what the material prices are going to be in 18 months’ time.
- Scaffolding (Health and Safety) who is providing this? Is it included in the quotation? The homeowner has a responsibility, as does the thatcher.
- Do they have up to date insurance cover. Don’t take their word for it – ask for proof.
- Confirmation of the materials, thickness, fixings etc
- Are the flashings (e.g. seals around the chimney) going to be re-used (if lead), or if they need replacing is that included in the quotation eg lime mortar.
- What will be done with the rubbish/spoil?
- In these strange times you may also wish to ask them about their policy with regard to COVID safety too.
- Deposits. If the thatcher wants one e.g. for materials (if their business is not in a position to afford them) get it in writing what it is for so you know. We recently have been shocked at news of large sums of money being handed over as deposits but no clarification of what for. For example, when a thatcher left the job having done very little, the large deposit was apparently for “booking the slot in his timetable”. Not acceptable in our eyes but as it was not in writing….. Putting deposits in the hands of a third party has been suggested.
- Stage payments on bigger contracts make sense for everyone but they should be fair and clearly agreed.
- Make sure that payment terms are clear so that, at the end, remuneration can be sorted out promptly for work completed per quotation.
- Who will be doing the thatching? Find out who will be at your premises. There are one man bands, teams and sub contracted thatchers who all play their role in thatching our roofs.
- If you want a lovely finial to go on your property when the thatching is completed, it’s always good to mention it beforehand and include it in the quotation. Be aware that listed properties/those in conservation areas may have restrictions placed on them/listed building consent (LBC) may be required. Sadly this is another example of variable responses from councils around the country. Finials, it seems, may sometimes be the final straw!
- Check references. Better to look at a roof which has stood the test of time for a few years than a pretty one which is just finished. We have been notified about too many problems with roofs failing prematurely due to basic thatcher errors e.g. incorrect depth over the fixings or spar alignment, but that’s maybe another article!
- Clarify the quotation to everyone’s satisfaction, both thatcher and homeowner.
Thatched properties are mostly unique and often so are those who maintain them so make an informed decision on who you choose to work on your property. Problems can be avoided if everything is discussed and clarified beforehand.
Do your research, ask questions and finalise any points necessary. Then you can accept the thatching quotation you are most confident in. Don’t forget to get things in writing – even if it is just an email. Good thatchers won’t mind.
As ever, we are here to help homeowners and thatchers in making thatched roof maintenance as painless as possible. We are hopeful that this article will assist and reduce the number of problems which have come to our attention recently.