It is fair to say well maintained thatched roofs, reminiscent of fairy tales and rural idylls, have a particular charm that is hard to resist. But how practical are they in modern times? More specifically, are thatched roofs expensive to replace? This question, like many others in life, does not have a straightforward answer. Several factors come into play, including the size and complexity of the roof, the choice of thatching materials, labour costs, and the overall state of the existing roof structure.
We look at the 8 main factors influencing how much replacing and maintaining a thatched roof costs.
8 Main Factors Influencing the Cost of Thatched Roof Replacement
In summary these factors are:
|1. Size of Roof||Larger thatched roofs require more materials and labour, hence are costlier to replace.|
|2. Labour Costs||Dependent on local rates, and expertise required for the job.|
|3. Thatching Material||Different types of thatching materials vary in costs, with some like water reed being more expensive.|
|4. Current Roof Condition||Poor condition may require additional repairs or reinforcement, increasing the cost.|
|5. Ridge repair or replacement||This needs to be more regularly maintained and is an opportunity to add design flair to your thatched roof, albeit of course at added cost|
|6. Netting||To deter the rodents and birds who may find your thatch particularly appealing|
|7. Fire retardants||Help to slow or retard the spread of a thatched roof fire|
|8. Scaffolding||Scaffolding is expensive so make sure this is included in any quotes you get|
Looking at each of these factors now in a bit more depth.
1. Size of Roof and 2. Labour Costs
As you might expect the size of roof will significantly influence the cost of replacement.
Thatchers tend to price their work based on a ‘thatcher’s square’. This is around 10 ft × 10 ft (100 ft²), or 3 m × 3 m (9 m²).
On average each thatcher’s square will cost you in the region of £1,750 (as of 2023).
As a rough guide therefore, based on an average sized roof a complete thatched roof replacement could range from £30,000 to £60,000 or more.
However these costs are dependent on further factors and we now look more deeply into some of these.
3. Thatching Material
The art of thatching involves using dried vegetation like straw, reeds, or palm leaves, among others. The choice of material for thatched roofs largely depends on geographical location and the availability of local resources. When it comes to insuring a home with a thatched roof, the material used plays a role. Notably, insurers will take into account the type of thatching material and its associated risks.
That said, whilst the material may have some impact, it is really factors such as fire risks and the maintenance of your thatched roof that will be of key interest to your insurance company.
4. Current Condition of 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.
5. Repairing or Replacing the Ridge
Although thatched roofs 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.
6. 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.
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.
7. 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.
8. 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.