Are thatched roofs expensive to replace?

A well maintained thatched roof often boosts the beauty and desirability of a country cottage, but this sort of roofing generally costs more than using standard tiles or slates.

A pretty thatched roof cottage

We look at how much replacing and maintaining a thatched roof costs, in this article.

General cost considerations

As with any roof, it is its size and complexity that determines the costs of materials and labour.

Thatchers have developed a sizing method called a “square” which is an area of the roof measuring 10 feet on each side, thereby covering an area of 100 square feet.

As the average cottage has a roof area of around 12 squares, owners should should estimate a replacement cost ranging from £10,000 to £14,000.

However these costs depend on a number of important factors:

Structural repairs to the roof

If an existing thatched roof needs to be replaced, the labour costs of removing the old thatch as well as the transport and disposal costs of the old reeds, needs to be taken into account.

Removing the old thatch may also expose unanticipated problems such as deterioration or damage to the wooden battens, which support the thatch. Other structural issues may also be found that need to be corrected before the roof and can be re-thatched.

Repairing or replacing the ridge

Although a thatched roof should last around 30 years before it must be replaced, the ridge should be replaced every 10 to 15 years as it receives the most wear and tear from the weather.

Ridges provide excellent opportunities for the thatcher to demonstrate their decorative skills so the design of a new ridge will influence the cost of its replacement.

In general, though, a ridge replacement will cost around 25% of the cost of replacing the entire roof. For our average cottage, mentioned above this means that replacing a ridge in an average house will cost around £4,000.

A well designed ridge can add significantly to the appeal of a thatched cottage, so it is worth the investment in implementing a good design, however there may be local authority or listed building restrictions that enforce a “like for like” replacement.

It is imperative to discuss the design of the thatch and ridge with your thatcher so that they can price their work accordingly and advise about the suitability and compliance of your ridge design.

Netting costs to deter nesting and other pests

Rodents and birds must find a thatched roof very appealing, particularly in winter so care must be taken to make it as difficult as possible for these pests to make their home in your.

A birds nest containing eggs

Adding netting to the external surface of the thatch can help minimise pest incursions, however as long as there are not too many creatures living in your thatch, they are unlikely to cause too much significant damage.

Of course, applying netting will incur additional costs, which must be taken into account.

The cost of fire retardants

Fire retardants can minimise the fire risks associated with thatched roofs. Although they don’t prevent the thatch from catching fire, they do, as their name suggests, retard the progress of a fire spreading across a roof.

Many insurance companies stipulate the application of fire retardant sprays to a new roof, but these can be expensive. It is important that you speak to your insurance company to determine whether it is mandatory to apply these sprays to comply with the terms of the policy.

Don’t forget scaffolding costs

You should always obtain quotes from a number of thatchers to ensure that you obtain the best deal.

When comparing quotes, be careful to ensure that you are comparing like with like and that the scaffolding costs are factored into the quotes.

Scaffolding is expensive so making valid comparisons at the quote stage can prevent nasty surprises once the work begins. of course, not all properties would require scaffolding to replace a thatch, however health and safety concerns make it very likely.

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