Although thatched properties possess an irresistible atmosphere of warmth and welcome, common misconceptions can often deter first-time buyers.

So, if you dream of living beneath a thatched roof but don't know where to begin, follow our simple guide to finding the perfect thatched property for you.

Condition

Unlike a conventional roof, it is very obvious if a thatched roof is in poor shape, so take time to stand and look at the condition of the thatch:

If fixings are exposed in parts of the roof, it indicates that the thatch is either nearing, or has reached the end of its life.

If gullies are appearing (vertical deep patches of rot), these will require the attention of an experienced thatcher.

Dark wet patches on the eaves close to the wall indicate the thatch is leaking.

If the roof is covered in heavy moss, it could mean that the thatch is unable to breath and is therefore unable to dry out properly.

The ridge

As the final protective covering along the top of the roof, the purpose of the ridge is twofold: to conceal the last fixing rod and to provide an attractive finish to the roof.

Although a high quality ridge will only need replacing every 12-15 years, a poor quality ridge may only last 5-7 years. Sometimes, however, the ridge may look shabby, whilst still serving its purpose of keeping water out.

Life expectancy

A new thatch should last between 15-35 years, depending on the type and quality of materials used.

Maintenance on a typical three to four bedroomed home will usually include replacing the ridge every 10 to 15 years.

Towards the end of its life, a thatched roof will require patching; however, regular inspection and maintenance of the thatch can prevent problems such as vermin damage or rot from shortening the lifespan of the roof.

Life beneath thatch

If you succumb to the lure of a thatched property, you and your family will be well rewarded. Unfortunately, old wives' tales and common misconceptions sometimes deter first-time thatch owners, so make sure you know the facts first:

Due to its unique insulating properties, your thatched home will keep you warm in winter and cool in summer.

Living beneath a thatched roof doesn't mean you cannot enjoy the warmth of a real fire. As with many things, it is simply a matter of exercising common sense.

Statistically, homes with thatched roofs are no more likely to catch fire than those with conventional roofs - see our guide on fire safety for thatched properties for further advice.

Thatched homes are not disproportionately expensive to insure - it is simply a matter of shopping around and finding an insurer who is experienced in thatched properties.

Listed thatch

When you take on a listed property that is thatched, you meet additional limitations on what you may or may not do:

Most external or internal repairs or alterations to listed buildings require listed building consent and you should talk to your local Building Conservation Officer before employing a thatcher to carry-out work on the roof.

Thatching a new plot

Most people associate thatched roofs with period properties; however, more and more housebuilders are now including a limited number of thatched properties on new developments. This is great news for homebuyers as it offers the best of both worlds: the charm of a period property, coupled with all the benefits of a brand new home.

Did you know?

The use of thatch as a roofing material can be traced as far as The Bronze Age.

Some straw roofs have the original thatch as a base coat. This means your roof could have a medieval cereal crop as a first coat.