..Thatched Articles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Thatch Renaissance

The thatching industry has undergone a recent boom in counties such as Dorset where a number of new developments are being built to meet increasing demand. These developments have provided a crossover between traditional thatch and newly built property. Existing Schemes have proved very popular among buyers looking for the ‘rural charm’ of thatch with the layout of a modern home. Due to the maintenance issues synonymous with thatch, these developments are less likely to have universal appeal but this is part or their attraction to buyers.

Thatched cottages have continued to be popular into the 21st century among those who aspire to own a traditional rural home. It is interesting to know that heat insulation properties of thatch are higher in many cases than modern homes built in conventional materials. Thatch enthusiasts remark how their homes remain cool in summer and keep warm during the winter months. With the drive for better heat efficiency and fuel economy in homes, thatch performs well within government guidelines. For this reason, the reintroduction of thatch buildings makes sense from both environmental and aesthetic points of view.

Thatched Cottage in Devon

There still exist many misconceptions among potential buyers as to the practicalities of owning a thatch property. There is a high level of anxiety with regards to fire safety and home insurance premiums. Proportionally, thatched property fires are no more likely than conventional homes. Due to bad press the risk of fire had unfairly discouraged potential thatch owners and insurance groups. Safety measures were needed to reinstall faith in the craft and provide the motivation for new properties to be built.

Recently a new system of thatching devised jointly by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service and the Building Research Establishment has helped encourage the recent rejuvenation of thatching. Under the ‘Dorset Model’ guidelines “…all new thatched properties must be built with a fire barrier offering 30 minutes of protection. Smoke alarms must be fitted in the roof and chimneys must rise at least 1.8metres above the height of the roof ridge.”

The appeal of living in a traditional style home is becoming more obtainable as the number and range of schemes increases. The fact that people have more money to invest means that developments will continue to expand in number and location. Due to the type of construction needed with new build thatch it has not as yet been viable to build two-bedroom homes. Greater research is underway to help lower the costs of construction. Typical newly built thatched homes are larger family homes with spaces designed for modern living.

When you consider the historic occupancy of thatch cottages we see that this trend is a reversal from tradition when cottages were home to farm workers and were typically one or two bedrooms. It is important to consider the impact that increasing house prices have upon local communities and the need for smaller homes if rural life is to be protected. In many areas local people are being forced out of the housing market due to high demand for second homes.

English Heritage, which works to protect and conserve traditional vernacular architecture commented, “Thatch is part if the built heritage of this country. It must be protected from further loss and also from inappropriate alteration”. It is interesting to consider therefore, whether new developments are in the interests of rural communities or rather to satisfy new buyers demand. Indeed the principal motivation in a return to thatching is from planners. It remains to be seen whether new thatch developments will mark the return to traditional quality homes for the local community, or simply creating the image of a bygone era for town dwellers.

Back to other articles in this category

 

© Copyright 2001 Thatched Owners Group. All rights reserved.