Thatched properties

Thatch roofs are part of the identity and character of Devon, it has been a common construction method in the county for over 600 years.
Have you ever fancied a thatched house? Or would you like to know more about this type of roofing?

David Lewis tells all…

Known in a practical sense for being waterproof, insulating and low-maintenance, sales particulars of thatched houses often incorporate the arbitrary term  ‘chocolate box’, symbolising fairy-tale property dreams. Today there are an estimated 4,000 thatched buildings in Devon which accounts for around 20% of all the thatched houses in the country.

At Jackson-Stops in Exeter, we estimate that around 14% of houses that we sell are thatched, so we have some experience in marketing and selling this type of property, It is here that I should probably admit a degree of bias; I own a thatched house, so feel somewhat qualified to offer a relatively balanced opinion. In my 23 years of being an agent, I remain puzzled when prospective purchasers, outlining their wish list of wants and desires, state ‘no thatch’.  But why do prospective buyers discount thatched houses out of hand?  The three common reasons we hear are illustrated below.  


Yes thatched houses require more maintenance than a slate or tile roof,but  broadly a well maintained thatched roof should last around 30 years provided, like your motor vehicle, it is regularly maintained. Some patching and re-ridging will need to take place, a ridge will typically last somewhere between 5 and 10 years, however there are no costs associated with guttering and drainpipes!

Fire risk

Clearly straw and reed are somewhat flammable, but the risk of thatch fires in old and new properties can be greatly reduced by taking sensible precautions, as well as utilising new technology which has certainly helped, reduce the associated risk.


The increased risk of a more devastating fire means that household or buildings insurance for thatched houses does carry a higher  premium. The insurance market in perhaps narrower which leads to less competition and I estimate that the premium is around a third more than ordinary houses,

But what are the pro’s to owning a thatched home?

Environmental and economic benefits  

Thatched roofs provide excellent insulation, meaning your home will stay warm when it’s cold outside and keep it cool during the summer. This had the added bonus of allowing you to save on heating bills. Thatch is also one of the most environmentally friendly roofing materials you can use. The materials used are often grown and harvested locally  reducing your overall carbon footprint as well as supporting local rural communities. Whilst there are obviously associated higher costs running a thatched house, there is a form of discount attached to purchase price which you could easily argue compensates over the lifetime of ownership

Charm and Character

There is simply no denying that a thatched roof adds a great deal of character to a property, dramatically increasing the lifestyle investment this type of property represents. Thatched properties have a warm and rustic charm that simply cannot be beaten, without question you will be the envy of your friends, and your house will be a proper home.

If you would like to discuss either selling your thatched home, or would like more information on owning one, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01392 214222.