Roof plane, Ridging cap, Overhangs, Thatch thickness & Chimney

What to look for on a “Roof plane” on thatched roofs

Thatch roof planes are the areas where the roof covers the most area of a roof from one corner to another corner or valley where it changes the [pitch of that particular section] of the roof.

Roof planes during construction of a roof become somewhat easier for the thatchers since they can work on an area without obstructions such as corners or valleys so work becomes uninterrupted from this point of view.

The overall finish of this sections give a proper appeal to the work quality of a thatching company and it should be flat and without a variance of swelled nor shallow areas for a newly built thatch roof and free from bumps or dents on an aged roof. As your thatch ages, pockets of damped and decayed thatch will form and will fall down off the roof when it rains and winds get to it leaving behind the whole of where the grass was once upon the time.

Visual observation can be seen by identifying grass lines coming down in the same direction, hips and overhangs should be free of “bulges” and “camel backs” which also gives a clear indication of a consistent thatch thickness which is easily seen if your looking for it.

By inspecting your roof from the above description you will then be able to determine whether your roof is in need of maintenance or recall your newly built roof. You will get the whole picture easily by viewing it from a reasonable distance.

thatch of old
OverThatch image

Eaves corners and Overhangs on thatched roofs

Much of the above said article relating to “roof Planes” includes in this section also.

Eaves corners tend to loose grass due to [wind and weather conditions] so it is good to keep them always in check.

What is Thatch Overhangs ?

Be sure to check the Overhangs on thatch roof. Making sure that they are free from birds nests, bees, bats and mice infestations. Thatched overhangs tend to bend inwards with age since their overhanging although usually only about 300mm should remain stiff depending on construction technique used during building phase.

Thatched houses where cape reed grass were used on the exterior surpass longevity over the ones where highveld grass was used due to their vine type and rigidity. Pros and cons well worth considering.

Any other unexpected surprises are common to find in thatched houses. After all thatch houses are pretty much built of natural building materials meaning nature exists in it!

Why is thatch thickness important?

Thatch thickness has always been a sensitive subject among contractors and thatch owners and some miss conceptions were able to take foothold over time. TASA and other [Guide lines of good Practices of Thatching] house hold entities indicate a time period and rationale table for when roofs are to be over thatched or add an additional one. These are guide lines and choices become the gap in the build between the contractor and home owners! thus creating the confusion and g a p in the thatch market. So it means you can build according to the given table or you can opt for a fat and original layer. Both are very feasible though some studies have been put in the CSIR guide lines thus making it more credible. Bottom line, is you want a thick layer which is what makes your roof more or less comfortable which in part makes it more colder or warmer.

For a house build you can negotiate thatch thickness with your contractor though for an entertainment area lapa you would rather stick to a thick ‘ish layer.

why is thatch thickness that important

For our purposes of [Thatch Inspection] we would want to make note on the thatch thickness as this is always a clear indication of your starting point.
Taking in consideration in an average that every 5 to 7 years will need revisiting and meaning that eventually you will be coming closer to an overlay time. This may be costly so saving up early is always a good idea.

Fixing your “ridging cap” or concreted thatch ridge

It may be that you have a preference for some particular type even though they all have their pros and cons so you can in fact go with the flow to what is used in your area. Thatch Ridges can be made of concrete which if not properly done can crack every now and then. Fiberglass is also acceptable but if too thin it won’t stand wind test and are prone to fading so painting becomes an added maintenance. Thatched woven type is very stylish though it requires lots of maintenance.

[Repairs to either] of the ones above described can be costly to replace so keeping an eye on it can save some expenses. Cheaper repairs like patching can also work to cover up small cracks and do a fine job.

How to look for “chimney condition” and its maintenance

If you have a chimney or more than one also do inspect it. Though most
times they are quite high making it difficult to reach a quick look to
areas where the brick meets the thatch will give straight away an
indication and a need of a closer look. Providing they were correctly
built and are high enough from starts they biggest problem is mainly
leaking water at the joints. Chimneys that are correctly fitted have
an arrestor closer to its tip and are built at least 1m radius clearance from the roof, the higher the better.

It is imperative that they are checked every time as to avoid blockages leading to fire hazards. Also if fitted with a wind direction rotating cowl ensure its operational. And as a last tip do make get into a habit of having it cleaned for at least once every 10 years, yes inside clean.

If you were fitted with a flue type for some braai box do lake sure the galvanised section of the flue is not touching and not in close approximation to any thatch. Have it insulated with bricks, flashing, fire emulsion blankets or something that will protect it from heat so when you go to sleep after a heavy night you don’t awake at at heating disaster.

We service all areas in the Gauteng and nearby areas. For any thatch work areas contact us at on the following link.

Find our form in the link below to request a quotation or speak to a consultant ..

blog content by P.Filipe