Thatched Properties are Selling
Is the Stamp Duty Holiday responsible for an increase in the number of enquiries the Thatch Advice Centre are receiving from people looking to move into a thatched property?
A sign of the times? Generally there seems to be movement to more rural areas with a garden, where coping with Covid restrictions is seen as preferable and less stressful. A lovely thatched property seems to be high on many people’s agenda. Helping prospective purchasers of thatched properties is something that we have a lot of experience with, along with helping vendors to provide useful and relevant information to facilitate smooth moving.
We thought we would share some of our experience with you.
Prospective purchasers – things to think about
Is the property listed?
A large proportion of thatched properties are listed. In regard to the thatched roof, the most important thing to know is that the roof has to be repaired “Like for Like”. This means in the same material (there are different thatching materials – Water Reed, Combed Wheat Reed and Longstraw) in the same style and with the same ridge (flush or ornamental). That being said, our listed thatched properties individuality and character are world renowned and the thatched roof gives it even more kudos.
Of the three main roofing materials, Water Reed is generally thought of as the longest lasting, Longstraw roofs the shortest and Combed Wheat Reed (Straw) somewhere in the middle. Thatched roof longevity is not an exact science and factors other than material will affect lifespan eg aspect, skill of the thatcher who applied the roofing material, design of the roof and weather conditions.
Always an interesting topic! If you understand the major causes of thatch fires, (sparks and embers landing on thatch and electrical faults,) you can reduce these risks. It is also worth noting that currently there are no good published statistics on the number of thatched roof fires. Home Office Statistics are ‘Fires in thatched properties’ and include things like a tumble drier fire or kitchen fire (nothing to do with the thatch) so can cause unnecessary concerns. Thatch is flammable, more so when it is dry, so be aware but not paranoid.
Enjoy your thatched property. Just like checking tyres and wearing a seat belt reduces the risks when driving, it is definitely preferable to understand the fire risks then reduce them.
Get a full structural survey on a thatched property, especially if it is listed. As soon as this is done and you are happy with the findings, you can then get a thatched roof inspection done. We help with a lot of Thatched Roof Inspection Reports (from experienced thatchers – who are not looking for work) if you need someone.
Worth shopping around and getting several/ at least 3 quotes for the cover you need. Make sure you compare like with like and understand what cover is required. Getting a valid rebuild cost is so important. If you are underinsured and do have an issue, it can be a big problem. Sometimes splitting the building and contents insurance can be cost effective. There are policies available for different thatched property uses, e.g., main residence, tenanted, renovation, buy to let, semi-detached or terraced. There seems to be a misconception that thatch insurance is hugely more expensive than other properties, we think you just need to take time to find the right one. Insurance tends to be based on risk.
Contact our Thatch Directory Insurance Specialists and find the best insurance cover to meet your requirements.
Some things for Vendors of thatch to think about.
New or Old Thatch
A newly thatched roof is often more appealing to prospective purchasers. This is probably because thatching takes a while, can be a bit disruptive and potentially messy. That being said, some people love to see and be involved in the rethatching process – so it depends on your potential purchaser. If your roof is needing attention, be prepared for negotiation on the price based on thatching works required. The Thatch Advice Centre are happy to provide indicative costs for such works and do so regularly to help both sides of the property market.
Information for purchasers
Have information readily available to purchasers, such as when it was last rethatched, by whom and what material it is. If the property is listed, include what grade and even what the local council conservation department contact details are. With the Stamp Duty Holiday, purchasers are looking to move quickly.
Thatched Roof Inspection Reports
Purchasers often require an up to date thatched roof inspection report when taking up new insurance. Getting this done by a proven, reputable, insured and experienced thatcher may help speed the process, although there is usually a cost involved for a good report. It may be preferable to have this done by someone other than the thatcher who thatched your roof to avoid potential conflict of interest. Contact us for help in this respect.
It is always appreciated if the vendors have information from their current insurers available. Having an idea of current insurance costs, cover and which insurer is providing this can be most helpful – it is one area we are often consulted on. We recommend purchasers look around to find the best policy to meet their needs and we have many specialists on our Thatch Directory.
Working solid fuel chimneys which have been recently swept/inspected are definitely a plus when it comes to selling and insuring a thatched property, as are chimneys with bird protection.
We thought of some of the helpful questions to ask when looking to buy a thatched property. Vendors get your answers ready!
- Is it listed?
- What material is it thatched in, when was it last attended to and by whom?
- Does it have a fire resisting barrier over the rafters and under the thatch? NB there is a difference between a fire barrier and a fire resisting barrier. Latter is definitely preferable as thatch burns up to 1000 degrees so protecting the timbers of the roof is an important consideration and you need to understand the difference as, hopefully, would any insurers.
- Has the roof been treated with a fire retardant spray recently? This can reduce the risk from a major cause of thatch fires and offers potential insurance premium reductions – e.g. Magma Firestop.
- Does the property have a woodburner installed? If so, does the woodburner installation meet current building regulations?
- Are there smoke alarms on all floors including the loft?
- Who are the current insurers?
- What rebuild cost do they use for their insurance and how up to date is it?
- Have they ever had any problems with pests e.g. birds or vermin?
Contact the Thatch Advice Centre if you need help
You may well be taking advantage of the Stamp Duty Holiday aspect of buying or selling a property. If it is thatched, we have plenty of helpful information on our website or, if you need any further assistance, please get in touch by phone or email. We are always happy to help.
Our experience, and that of our specialist associates, means that we will always do our best to give honest and straightforward support during the conveyancing process.