Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter No 25
Time has flown since our last Newsletter, probably because we have been so busy. The property market continued to flourish during the pandemic and we definitely noticed this trend affecting us too. We have helped hundreds of people this year already and have also noticed the usual upsurge in enquiries once the kids went back to school.
Hoping all businesses are getting back to normal following the disruptions from various quarters. This includes the thatchers now that this year’s straw harvest is in.
So, welcome to all of our new subscribers and thatched property owners and welcome back everyone else!
This Newsletter has plenty in it for everyone. Updating you all with what’s been happening as well as who we have been helping and working with. It’s easy to miss something on social media, so it’s useful for us to put all our important and interesting information from the last few months in one place.
We welcome even more connections with specialists who can assist us, with those of you who are building, living under and caring for/maintaining thatched properties.
It’s also wonderful to see our ever-growing thatch community.
Our Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter currently has almost
5.5K subscribers with more being added daily!
In this Newsletter
Updates to our Website
(Articles and pages)
New Associates on our Thatch Directory
Thatch and Gardens Picture Competition Winner
Thatch Fire Statistics and Risk Reduction
Valiant Fireside – Excellent Offer
New Look Articles section on our website
Social Media Interest
(Our Posts, Sharing of Others Useful Posts, Proud Moments)
Updates from Previous Newsletters
(HETAS, LPOC, Apprenticeship, Fire Barriers, Property Sale and Insurance)
New Picture Competition – Chocolate Box Thatch
Thatch Tale – NHBC update
Positive Feedback from our Thatch Community
Interesting Project – Refurbishment of a Thatched Church.
Our Great Galleries
Test it Tuesdays
Your thatched roof
Our Growing Thatch Community
Updates to our Website (Articles and Pages)
Plenty of updates to the website, including our lovely new look Articles section, which we are sure you will like. Please click through these updates at your leisure and understand how we continue to assist with “All Things Thatch”.
Our aim is to provide a useful resource for everyone and if you have anything to contribute, please feel free to get in touch.
Updates since last Newsletter
Butser Ancient Farm has a new on-line resource “Butser Plus” for supporters to see more of the behind the scenes action and gives the opportunity for a wider audience to see the fabulous archaeological reconstructions Wessex Archaeology e.g. Neolithic, Saxon as well as ancient skills at this tranquil area in the South Downs National Park. Find out more.
Helpful information on Level Three Building Surveys.
Thanks to Keir Hamilton Ltd Surveyors for their specialist knowledge on this.
“Architect’s Tale – A New Thatched Sunroom on Historic Cottage”
Some great information and pictures from our Associates Mark Ellerby Architects.
The devastating Scottish Crannog Centre fire and how you can help them.
The before and after pictures show the extent of the damage.
Our contribution to the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps on-line event including a link to the actual Thatch, Fire Safety and Chimney Issues Webinar for those who missed it.
“A Plan to Encourage More Farmers to Grow Thatching Straw”
Important article explaining how we assisted our friends at the National Thatch Straw Growers Association with their clever idea.
Thatching Quotations. Too many problems which could possibly be reduced if homeowners and thatchers clarified things clearly in the quotations. Our most recent article with helpful ideas on this topic.
New Associates on our Thatch Directory
Welcome to all of our New Associates – bit of a chimney theme this time!
NVQ qualified Chimney Sweeps covering Somerset, Devon and Dorset. Good time to remind you about your chimney checks too – they also do CCTV.
Covering the South East, they can assist with Gas, Solid Fuel, Electric and Bio Ethanol for all maintenance and installation requirements.
Well established, NVQ qualified, covering Hampshire & Surrey, glowing references
Independent and specialist service focusing on the safety and compliance of all solid fuel installations, whether new or existing. CCTV inspections, design advice, safety checks etc.
We take this opportunity to thank all of our wonderful Associates, who continue as our group of specialists, assisting us and our visitors in so many ways.
Remember we are always happy to welcome more experienced “thatch” associates to join us – there are plenty of interesting categories on our Thatch Directory. Please note references are required.
Our relationships with everyone who has an involvement in thatch are really important to us. Don’t forget where we go to if we need extra assistance with the myriad of enquiries we receive!
Thatch and Gardens Picture Competition
Thank you everyone for so many fabulous entries which are now all on the website in a special “Thatch and Gardens Gallery”.
The wonderful winning picture from S Comer is pictured above. Very well done indeed – Congratulations and your prize is on its way.
Many thanks to our judge, Jim Richardson of New Forest & Waterside Photography.
Jim is a professional photographer and registered member of the Guild of Photographers. His help, with what was a difficult job, was hugely appreciated.
He also insisted on making this great comment on the entries:-
“Can I just say the images entered are fantastic, some wonderful compositions, colours and excellent captures. It was a tough decision to pick an overall winner but I liked the thought process that went into the winning image, including the chickens in the foreground which gave it the extra bit of interest for me “
Huge thanks to all who entered and we are glad we didn’t have to choose!!
If you enjoyed that process, why not enter our next picture competition, which has the potential to be just as wonderful if not more so!! …..details later on in this newsletter.
Thatch Fire Statistics and Risk Reduction
- In the last Newsletter we shared info on the Crannog Centre and its lovely thatched structures. Imagine our horror to hear of the fire and devastation it had caused. We were so pleased that they will be rebuilding and send them our best wishes.
- In September, Historic England were promoting the up to date fire safety knowledge and advice, just like us! It’s great that we are consistent in this message. We just need everyone else to catch up with this up to date information. In our opinion, it is happening too slowly as we are now entering the next burning season. We are not sure if that is because it is not such a high priority for the sloths or whether it is a fear of losing face because their data needs to be updated, and properly.
- We, along with Historic England, have been doing our best to collate the thatch fire numbers. Sadly two fires this week are disappointing. There have been, we believe, 19 thatch fires since our last newsletter and 34 in total this year. Now we are reaching the known season for thatch fires, we want everyone to understand and reduce those risks.
- It is also frustrating that some of those with funds are not helping, but those of us without are! Rest assured we have got this far and will not be giving up in educating people with the best thatch fire safety information available. We continue to expand the number of our friends and associates who can assist in these endeavours.
- Thank you for keeping us informed about any thatch fires in your area and thanks also to the Fire Services for all the great work they do. Remember folks, everyone is welcome to use our Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet – just download from the website.
- At this time of year, a quick reminder to make sure you sweep your working chimney regularly and are careful with what and how you burn. Our Associates with the Magma Firestop Fire Retardant Spray confirmed increased enquiries which, they believe, is down to the insurance companies and/or underwriters’ better understanding of risk reduction. More information on Thatch Fire Prevention is on our website. Please read this too.
- Thatch fires are hard to extinguish. We strive to educate to stop fires starting in the first place. Whether you are a homeowner, renter, Fire Service, insurance company, or anyone who deals with thatch, let’s work together and help everyone to understand and reduce the risks.
- Knowledge is power and even one small improvement can make a difference.
- #workingtogether is also important in sharing the up to date information.
Valiant Fireside Excellent Offer
Our long standing Associates at Valiant Fireside offer some very useful products to our thatched property owners. Some of which are recommended by our thatch insurers!
Therefore we are so pleased to announce their
for all of our subscribers and Thatch Advice Centre visitors.
So if you are looking for a stove or accessories, e.g. moisture meter (to check your firewood) or temperature gauge for your woodburner, then
get in touch with them and take advantage of their great offer.
Make a great pressie or stocking filler folks!
More farmers are needed to grow thatching straw, the recent straw shortage has identified this to thatchers and thatched property owners alike.
It’s no good complaining about this, we prefer to actually to do something. We have been working with like-minded organisations to try “before it is too late” – their words not ours.
The National Thatching Straw Growers Association had a great idea to get those with the special and vintage machinery (used for cutting, threshing and combing the straw) to encourage more farmers to grow the straw for thatching. Exciting to be asked to get involved in an article (which turned out to be several articles) which have been circulated in various vintage/machinery magazines. This also caught the eye of the Farmers Weekly and got further promotion. How chuffed were we all!
We have already had contact from interested farmers, those looking to help with harvest and learn the skills and several others.
Historic England appreciated the effect of the straw shortage on maintaining our heritage thatched properties. They joined in with their contribution, “a little late” was the feedback we got, as there seemed to be a fair amount of “changes” of material being approved across the country. Their article was helpful but the comment on patching was not well received by homeowners (as not the most cost effective way to maintain the roof). Nor the thatchers, some of whom felt they did not want to have to do patching on roofs which were past their sell by date as it would not reflect well on their integrity.
We understood all sides of this coin but the main thing is everyone is trying to do the best they can. Perhaps the situation could be improved if we all worked together a bit better? This is our plan with everything but in reality sometimes it’s a bit tricky…
That’s probably why we feel that addressing the route cause is important and why we and the National Thatching Straw Growers Association get on so well. Remember, if you know a farmer looking to diversify or owner of vintage machinery who can help with the process, now is the time to act!
Some other great suggestions have been raised from our community on how to improve the straw availability/no of growers etc. and we will be keeping you informed… Another watch this space and stay in touch situation.
New look Articles Section
We have revamped the Articles Section of our website with a fabulous new look.
It’s now smarter, clearer, more up to date and it’s a lot easier to find/search for things – as we have a lot of information on there!
Its facelift and functionality are already receiving approval from visitors (thanks for the lovely comments folks!).
Updates from Previous Newsletters
HETAS Technical Advice on Thatch
Concerns have been raised on HETAS “updated advice”, by many people, us and Historic England to name a couple! Interestingly, this information is no longer available to the public as it used to be.
Quote from Historic England’s National Fire Adviser last week
“It is disappointing that HETAS has not communicated with Historic England regarding Technical Note TN_007_v2 despite several attempts to discuss the heat transfer claims within the document”
It has raised a lot of questions and we will keep you posted. Maybe feel another article coming on!
Just to say, we prefer to be helping in a positive way and not dealing with all this negativity and confusion. Happy to discuss with HETAS but we are still waiting for answers to our straightforward questions. What a ridiculous state of affairs. Luckily, we have been managing to navigate many of the situations for our visitors with the help of our up to date friends and associates.
Listed Buildings – VAT Campaign and GHG
No further update on this APPG campaign, which is understandable during the current climate.
The issue of Green Home Grants caused concern: “listed buildings are left out in the cold again”. Since its cancellation we, and our friends at LPOC, will keep you updated on what the future may bring in this regard.
Hmm – resumed slowly but reached stage where others’ input (and money) is required. Looking currently at funding options and and will be cracking on with this now. This is the one area where COVID has slowed us up, but we are not going let that be a problem.
We continue to be a central resource for those looking for apprentices/trainee thatchers and those looking to learn. Keep an eye on our social media too.
Insurance and court cases on this topic seem to be making slow progress. Not really something we like to hear about or to be reporting on. Please make sure you and insurer, know the difference between a fire barrier and a fire resisting barrier. Fire resistance protects from the flames and the heat which makes sense to us as thatch burns at around 1000 degrees. Performance of products based on tests carried out has been big news to everyone for several years now and thatch should be no exception. We still are working hard to reduce the number of thatch fires.
Don’t forget the inflated statistics which have been used in the past have been inflammatory and causal of a lot of scaremongering. Consequently we have seen all sorts of products put into thatched properties!! Understand your requirements, your insurers’ requirements and what your options are and make the best choices you can.
Great news that the lovely thatched property in Lincolnshire, which urgently needed a new owner, was sold this week! We heard from the happy vendor and welcome the new owners to our thatch community.
A large percentage of calls to us are regarding thatch insurance. Please be aware of our Thatch Directory where we have many specialist thatch insurers and brokers whose cover is wide ranging. We have had great feedback from homeowners on this and we always recommend you ask around to get the cover to best meet your needs.
Sharing our older, relevant and useful website articles on social media, makes sense. This helps our new friends and followers and reminds everyone else of our interesting and useful information.
- The lovely Furzey Gardens in the New Forest National Park. It is part of the Minstead Trust and there is lovely thatch to see.
- Coppicing and Thatching. How these two crafts and skills go hand in hand, with pictures and a great video. Thanks to the National Coppice Federation – NCFed for their help.
- Chiltern Open Air Museum in Buckinghamshire is a great place to visit and, of course it has thatch!! A wonderful place to attend events, learn about history, as a family or a group so why not have a look.
- “7 Points to Consider on Thatched Roof Condition“. Definitely worth reminding you about. When did you last look at your thatched roof? Hope you weren’t superstitious….. It was on Friday 13th!
- “Clean Air Strategy, Wood-burners and Thatch“. If you have a woodburner and a Thatched Property Read this – important information on how fitting in with the strategy has benefits for fire safety too.
A lot goes on behind the scenes at Thatch HQ and we cannot always share some of the situations. This we can:
NHBC not accepting responsibility for some solid boards on thatched roofs
The wording says
“This guidance applies to all MgO building boards.
NHBC will not accept MgO building boards on buildings where the foundations are begun on or after 30 April 2020 under its insurance warranty. In these circumstances, alternative suitable building boards, compliant with Technical Requirements R1 and R3, should be specified.
Where MgO building boards have already been, and are currently being, installed on buildings, you should use an alternative product if it is practical to do so. If it is not practical to do so and this is demonstrated to NHBC, NHBC may at its sole discretion, continue to issue its warranty cover on those buildings (providing all other parts of the installation are acceptable) provided the NHBC Warranty Certificate is issued by no later than 31 December 2020.”
On this topic please be aware that these solutions originally were for new buildings.
We think the sensible thing is to have a fire resisting barrier over the rafters and under the thatch (per B4 building regulations). A fire resisting barrier keeps out the heat and flames for a length of time (insulation and integrity) and should have been tested for that.
Please make sure your insurers know and understand what barrier you have (fire or fire resisting) because, if the worst should happen, there are differences.
Some of the additional things we have been doing don’t really fit under a specific heading. We definitely don’t get bored!! In writing this Newsletter we have realised how busy we have been, nearly 300 enquiries since our last one at the end of March!!
We have been liaising with:
- Various people regarding thatching straw, from growing to harvesting and beyond.
- Lots of potential thatched property purchasers and associated personnel
- TV and film staff
Also taking pictures of lovely thatch to use on our website and social media.
Contributions gratefully received (and when we use them you will be credited).
All of this activity is wonderful but we definitely would benefit from more Associates who we can rely on to assist with some of the many enquiries we get. Thatchers, surveyors and architects etc. Problem seems to be that everyone appropriate is so overloaded!!!
Positive Feedback from our Thatch Community
Thank you for the thanks.
It’s great to be appreciated. These lovely comments are for all those involved in helping, advising and contributing to our community.
- “More than helpful”
- “You’re lovely, thanks very, very much”
- “Fountain of Knowledge”
- “Wow” “Impressive”
- “Thank you for your quick response” and “I appreciate your assistance”
- “We very much appreciate the valuable support and advice we have received”
- “The Thatch Advice Centre do regular updates – well worth making sure you are subscribed to them. A lot of good videos, information guides…”
- “Think your website is amazing”
- “Enjoyed talking to you”
- “Your website is one of the best resources I know”
- “You’ve made my day” “Superstar”
- “Fantastic to come to somewhere to get proper specialist advice”
- “I have found all of your input (over the phone, by website and Twitter) extremely helpful. We need the thatch done soon(ish) and I will certainly look at your Thatch Directory again. I have also signed up to your newsletter”
Interesting Project – Refurbishment of a Thatched Church
Even Churches are thatched! We were contacted by Alan Porter, a hobby photographer who had recorded the refurbishment and rethatching of the Church of the Holy Cross, Caston, Norfolk, in pictures.
This refurbishment was completed then rededicated in September 2019. He had taken the unique opportunity to record the project from the first inspection, through to completion. Apparently not an easy task. At one stage the church was totally covered in scaffolding and, as he suffers from vertigo, he took all pictures from terra firma!
Alan has produced a book “A photo essay” (he has already sold over 100 !!). Alan has asked us to let you know that he has them for sale (only £13 including postage).
The forward from the Reverend of the Parish said “Surely a work to treasure for anyone who is interested in English parish churches and Norfolk thatched roof churches”.
We love our copy.
Galleries of Thatch Pictures
The competitions may be over but we are always happy to receive more pictures and add to them to our lovely Galleries, crediting you (of course).
There will be a new Chocolate Box Thatch Gallery coming soon. How exciting that some clever people have already found the new competition article and we have entries already!
Test it Tuesdays
Having a working alarm can be an insurance requirement as well as being a no brainer when it comes to being responsible for your own and your family’s safety.
Join us on social media on or “Test it Tuesdays” and help to get the message out to your friends, family and associates.
Love, Share, Repost or Retweet it or even make a comment if you like our important reminders.
We are proud that our organic post reach on Facebook is regularly around 8K – but our best week recently was 11.8K!!! Let’s see if we can get it up to 10K on a regular basis with your help.
With fires being lit and darker evenings, stay cosy and stay safe folks. #workingtogether.
Your Thatched Roof
Don’t leave it too late to call in assistance on your thatch, flashings or chimneys. Good Thatchers are very busy at the moment and if you get a leak you may still have to put a sheet on your roof and wait.
Lack of materials has been a problem, we know that it has caused issues both for those that have Listed Buildings, in waiting for straw, and there have been problems with Water Reed supplies too.
These problems seem to be slowly improving. The new straw harvest is apparently a good one so things are looking up.
Too many enquiries from homeowners and thatchers with problems and situations.
Please be aware that the term Master Thatcher is used by all thatchers nowadays and that there is no overall governing body for thatchers. The majority of thatchers are independent and membership of an organisation seemingly gives no protection to the homeowners or thatcher either! It is a sad state of affairs. We cannot say that choosing someone from an organisation will give you better thatching or better service.
This is not a paragraph we are wanting to write but please:
- Do your homework before employing a thatcher
- Read our latest article on Thatching Quotations for a bit more help on this topic for both homeowners and thatchers’ peace of mind.
Keep in touch.
Our Ideas and Knowledge
To those who don’t have their own ideas, like to take our information and rephrase it etc, please don’t or at least make sure you get it right – otherwise it looks ridiculous and shows you up badly. Imitation is not a form of flattery if it is incorrect. A few things have been brought to our attention recently and it is a shame.
The Thatch Advice Centre are always happy to be #workingtogether with everyone for the good of thatch. We and our associates have loads of knowledge, ideas and experience and, so long as we are asked, are happy to share and assist anyone.
Our Growing Thatch Community
Our thatch community continues to grow with homeowners and those who help to look after and maintain thatched properties. We are so pleased to have such a great crowd and, if you want us to include anything in our Spring 2022 Newsletter, get in touch.
It is great to hear from you. Points of interest and pictures etc. are always welcome.
As ever, we will continue to update and inform you on progress along with any new things which have been happening in our ever expanding world of thatch.
Relevant Updates from our Newsletters
Progress report on the Chocolate Box Thatch Picture Competition.
Architects and Thatch
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The content of the Thatch Advice Centre email is circulated to its subscribers and is copyright. These contents may only be reproduced with the permission of the Thatch Advice Centre.
· Building Surveyors
· Chimney & Flue Specialists
· Chimney Sweeps
· Electrical Engineers
· Fire Safety Products & Supplies
· Garden Buildings
· Health and Safety
· Master Thatchers
· Preservation & Pest Control
· Quantity Surveyors
· Reed & Straw Dealers
· Solid Fuel & Heating Supplies
· Specialist Builders
· Specialist Building Materials
· Structural Surveyors
· Thatched Hospitality
· Thatching Supplies
· Timber Framed Builders
· Tools & Equipment Hire
· Tree Surgeons
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