Thatch Advice Centre Newsletter November 2015

Hello everyone,

Summer is definitely well and truly over, had a fair bit of wind and rain and the latest cold snap was a bit of a shock. Still plenty happening in the world of thatch.

Enquiries on chimneys, wood-burners and building regulations have been received. Also insurance, moss, lichen and Magma Fire retardant spray have also been high on the questions agenda.

There have been a considerable amount of people looking to buy thatch and they’ve had a lot of questions as potential first time thatch owners.

Our Facebook friends and Twitter followers continue to grow and our posts, including the usual #ThatchThursdays have been well received. Admittedly we post more on Facebook as time is a bit limited for Tweets….. but we do our best as it is all about sharing the good things.

This will be our last Newsletter of 2015 – we are not going to add to your inbox over Christmas – but we will take this opportunity to wish you a healthy happy and safe festive season. Plans for next year are well underway for the website, newsletter and directory. Do remember, we love hearing from you.

In this Newsletter:

Click on the title to show the details.

Question Time - 1.8m chimney height?


Approved Document B of building regulations dealing with issues of external fire spread in thatch with buildings less than 12m from the boundary, quotes the Dorset Model,  which recommends the chimney including the pot terminates at least 1.8m above the height of the ridge.

It is, based on recent research into causes of thatch fires by Burgoynes Forensic Investigators, obviously better to have a higher rather than a lower chimney to reduce the chances of sparks getting onto the thatch but why 1.8m?

Insurers of properties, installers of chimney flues and woodburners and other expert organisations now all quote this 1.8m height.  It also seems that most new build  thatch – irrelevant of distance to boundary – are now preferred 1.8m high chimney.  Why not 2m or 1.6m you may ask?

At a thatch fire safety event a few years ago we remember one insurer asking the assembled experts  ‘where does this 1.8m come from?’.   Apart from quoting the above information – no one knew.

A recent interesting conversation may have enlightened us with one possible answer.  Surprisingly, it is more to do with structure than fire regulations.

The maximum height of a brick built chimney, including terminal(s) above the roof intersection (where it can be exposed to wind load) equates to 4 times the minor dimension.  This is a known rule of thumb per Approved Document A.

Therefore a small single skin brick chimney eg 2 bricks and mortar joint equals 450mm.  Multiply 450mm X 4 =  1.8 metres.  Obviously, the Approved Documents overlap in their use and it depends on the siting of the chimney and other factors, but we feel this may be a good answer to the question.

If anyone has another idea, of where the 1.8m preferred height came from, we would be happy to hear from them.

In case we forgot to mention it, please remember it is important to keep the chimney clean and to burn seasoned wood!

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Newsletter Updates - Historic England


Historic England and Listed Thatch

Recent emails going around the thatching fraternity have caused some consternation that Historic England were making changes to their policy on thatch.  Communication was not spreading to as many thatchers in a timely enough manner for them to make comment via that forum, us included.

We were however, on reading the information, not too concerned and have had conversation with Historic England and they make the following comment for all to understand, for which we are grateful.

“The National Society of Master Thatchers contacted Historic England about the draft of our forthcoming Historic Environment Advice Note 2 (HEAN2) called Making Changes to Heritage Assets, because it was concerned that this appeared to represent a change of policy in respect of thatch. We would like to reassure all thatchers and homeowners that there was no change of wording in the draft HEAN2 compared to our existing advice regarding thatch published in 2010 in the Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide, which was, in turn, based on advice set out in the English Heritage Technical Advice Note, Thatch and Thatching, published in 2000.   Due to changes in national planning policy in 2012, a number of Historic England advice documents have had to be updated to reflect that, and the production of HEAN2 is simply part of this process.”

It is hoped to add more information on this on the website as part of our plan for next year.

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Are you underinsured?




Both thatched property owners and insurers are talking to us about this problem and we would like to help.

What does underinsurance mean?  Inadequate insurance cover by a policy holder on their building or contents cover. In the event of a claim, underinsurance may result in economic losses to the policy holder, since the claim would exceed the maximum amount that can be paid out by the insurance policy.

It is therefore very important that the figure you give your insurer, on the rebuild cost, is correct.

Unfortunately, working out that rebuild cost is not easy for those with thatch.  The Building Cost Information Service has a calculator but they recently confirmed that it is primarily for tiles or slates.  We have been in contact with them offering to assist with regard to thatch and will keep you posted.

In the meantime, another option is to employ a surveyor to help.

If anyone wants to get their rebuild cost up to the rafters we are happy to help by advising on the relevant  thatching installation cost to complete the calculation.

With the correct rebuild cost you will not be underinsured and so should not have any problems with the sum insured in the event of a claim.

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Calling all Chimney Sweeps


The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps are holding more thatch chimney sweeping courses in 2016, open to all.
Click here for more information.

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New at the Thatch Advice Centre


We have made several changes and additions to the website.
Courses Chimney Sweeping
Thatch Thursdays,
VAT and Thatch (see below)

Proudly, we announce our first VIDEO. On the resources page.

This one is of a master spar maker showing his skill in making a spar from a hazel gad.

We are happy to receive pictures and videos from our thatch community on ‘all things thatch’ to share for everyone to enjoy.

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Specialist Spotlight - Surveyors


Local Building Surveyors

The Thatch Directory has been joined by local building surveyors

This provides instant survey quotes from qualified Chartered Surveyors, either individual RICS Members (MRICS), RICS Fellows (FRICS) or RICS Regulated Firms.

More useful contacts to help you with your thatch.

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Thatch and VAT


Many thanks to Mr Dave Brown (VAT Consultant) for his help in updating our webpage on the situation with regard to VAT on Thatch and what is left with regard to VAT relief.

There is some great and useful information.

click here to see the page.

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Thatch Tale


or thatch stories….

Did you know that Enid Blyton lived (from 1929 – 1938) in a 17C thatch cottage called Old Thatch.

While there she wrote Brer Rabbit and the cottage was also the inspiration for the Old Thatch series of books, including Hop, Skip and Jump, The Talking Teapot, The Button Elves, Animals at Home and many more

Old Thatch was apparently the setting for her book the Mystery of the Burnt Cottage.

Reputedly, this cottage was once an Inn called the Rose and Crown used by Dick Turpin as a hideaway.

Amazing what stories some of these old thatched properties could tell…..

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Facebook Friend - Natural Homes


Natural Homes

The Thatch Advice Centre have enjoyed and been very interested in the Facebook Posts from Natural Homes.

They write about using natural materials like clay, stone and straw to build beautiful homes. Natural Homes is a great organisation with a facebookpage and website on sustainable, natural building. Every picture in every gallery will take you on a journey to other websites about natural materials.

It was marvellous to have a call from them and some encouraging feedback on what we do.

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Our Next Newsletter

Our Next Newsletter :-

What is growing on your thatch?
Thatch Tale
Fire and Rescue Services
Famous Thatch and more……
and more …

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Anything you want to share with us?

Thank you to everyone who has already contributed with lovely pictures, renovations and stories.

If you have any interesting or lovely pictures, a story or even ideas, we would love to hear from you.

The best way is to contact us via email or,  just give us a ring on 02380 428058.

Thatch Directory Categories – Phase I

Our site has one clear list of categories so it is easy to find help.  We are looking for proven services to join us.  References are required.

·  Architects
·  Builders
·  Building Surveyors
·  Chimney & Flue Specialists
·  Chimney Sweeps
·  Electrical Engineers
·  Fire Safety Products & Supplies
·  Garden Buildings
·  Health and Safety
·  Insurance
·  Leadworkers
·  Master Thatchers
·  Preservation & Pest Control

· Quantity Surveyors
· Reed & Straw Dealers
· Scaffolding
· Security
· 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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