Should I buy a Thatched Property?

Ask the Property Expert

By Steve Moir, Director, Director at Hennings Moir a Property Sharing Expert estate agency in Saltash Cornwall, 01752 850440


  1. I’m tempted to buy a thatched cottage but I’ve heard so many negative things about them – cost of maintenance, etc. Is it a daft idea?
  1. No, not at all. After all, most of us have dreamed of living in a thatched cottage at some time or other. Precisely why, of course, remains something of a mystery. Perhaps it’s all Constable’s fault – or Cadbury’s. After all, the term “chocolate-box” must have come from somewhere…

Whatever the reason, thatched cottages seem to be ingrained in the national psyche as the ultimate expression of cosy, homely comfort. Despite this though, the vast majority of us never own or live in one – the main reason being that there aren’t actually very many thatched properties around; it has been calculated that there are only around 60,000 of them in the whole of the UK.

Then there’s the fact that although there has been something of a mini-revival in the use of thatch for architect-designed new homes in recent years, most existing thatched properties are listed buildings – which means that you can’t just do whatever you want to them. Finally, of course, there’s the thatch itself. Picturesque it may be – but there is a widely-held view that it is tricky and expensive to maintain.

Is this fair? Well certainly, all thatched roofs need completely replacing from time to time. On top of that, it is normally necessary to replace the ridge approximately halfway through the roof’s life. The timing of both these operations will depend on the materials used. As a general rule, for example, long straw has a lifespan of around 25 years, while Norfolk reed can last up to 60 years.

Bear in mind, however, that no roof of any kind lasts forever. And the truth is that a well-made and maintained thatched roof is in reality very easy to live with. For one thing, it has natural insulating properties – cosy in winter and cool in summer. Then there’s the fact that the thickness of the projecting eves generally does away with the need for guttering – so no routine clearing and maintenance on that score either. Finally, of course, there’s the enormous visual appeal, and the pleasure of knowing that you are the custodian of a piece of living history.

On balance then, for those prepared to face up to the responsibilities of ownership, there is undoubtedly something uniquely rewarding about living in a thatched cottage. So, go for it!


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