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Thatch Construction & Insurance

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South Africans love the outdoors and we often incorporate natural products into our buildings. A thatch roof or thatch lapa is a popular choice in many properties, but do you realise the significant impact thatch has on property insurance?

In terms of insurance risk analysis and underwriting, thatch construction is classified as non-standard construction and it is rated differently to standard “brick & tile” structures. When building or installing a thatch roofed structure there is a number of important insurance related influences that must be considered in advance. Failure to do so may have serious consequences.

  1. Thatch roofed buildings are rated in its entirety. Certain considerations will be given to internal and external influences (proximity of vegetation and lightning conductors).

  2. Positioning of the lapa: Thatch lapas are classified according to size; less than 20sqm, and 20sqm and larger. In order not to influence the insurance rating of the adjacent structure the smaller lapa should be a minimum of one meter away from the structure while the larger lapas must be a minimum of four to five meters away. If this does not apply, the whole building adjacent to the lapa may be rated as thatch.

  3. Thatch protection. Insurers will consider measures taken to protect the thatch such as application of fire retardant chemicals, installation of additional fire fighting facilities (extinguishers, damper systems, hoses) and the presence of available water sources such as pools.

  4. Other installations such as the quality of braai/fireplace facilities, electrical installations and the associated precautions taken.

  5. Spread of fire. In a build where multiple sections are contained in a single building, use of fire walls/doors to separate sections are considered. The absence of a suitable firewall between sections of a building may result in a single lapa changing the risk on multiple sections.

The addition of thatch to a property will certainly increase the value of the property but unless the installation is properly managed, the thatch structure may become a financial burden. Make your enquiries upfront.


Contact Addsure, the leaders in Sectional Title Insurance, to get advice on the most comprehensive insurance cover for your peace of mind.

Bruce Gibson is the author of this article. You can contact him on bruce@addsure.co.za or  031 459-1795.