As we have learned most people think owning a thatched property is a really bad idea!
A picture on a postcard? – adorable, but owning one conjures nightmares of fire, expense and collecting rain in saucepans.
In fact, the thatch has been one of the easier parts of this project. Firstly, we managed to find an expert skilled thatcher early on to guide us. This put our mind at ease on the quality of the roof, which fortunately was reasonably good and just in need of some maintenance. Secondly, we realised that the longer term economics of owning a thatch roof once understood were not that bad.
We’ve come to realise that although the thatch requires yearly maintenance and will eventually need to be replaced, this expense is nothing compared to the maintenance required on a larger property. When we were looking at houses on the Irish market we could have picked up a large 4/5 bedroomed house in the countryside for the same price. But that’s 4/5 bedrooms with each room having at least one window, door, carpet, interiors and furnishings to maintain. Then theres painting, inside and out – more surface area. More bathrooms, more fittings. More plumbing, more electrical work. Houses have roofs too – big ones! Our maths told us that longer term a thatched cottage would be cheaper to maintain simply because its smaller than most houses.
But don’t you have to replace the thatch eventually? Yes but a good thatch can last 20 or more years. You can also extend the life of your thatch by 5 to 8 years by spending about €150 a year on maintenance.
On the subject of fire, if you do the research you’ll find that most fires on thatched properties are not due to sparks landing on the thatch as you might expect. They are from badly constructed and badly insulated chimneys that allow the heat from the fire to heat the thatch causing fire. You cannot get insurance unless you can prove you have put in the correct insulation to prevent this. So in practice if you follow the guidelines the risk of fire is minimal.
So the verdict on thatch? We love it!