It needed to be upgraded to permanent building accommodation from the current tented camp.
The proposed site was on the edge of an ancient volcanic outcrop of buff-red lava. An ideal location I thought, being elevated, north facing and having tranquil views over the flat-land game park.
We also decided to have the entertainment area separate from the sleeping area, as men being men can sometimes carry on a bit when others want to sleep.
Much chattering later and ideas gelling, the consensus was for the buildings to have rustic game-park appeal. Only one big problem – we were caught between a rock and runaway veld-fire. These fires were frequent and would definitely pose a fire-risk to the thatched roofs.
“So let’s find a compromise,” I suggested. Runaway fires, caused by strong wind, is the main cause of fire to thatched houses. So let’s protect the outside to reduce risk by 80% or more.
Erect your normal thatch roof with a thinner layer of thatch than usual – a spreilaag, as it’s called. Then cover the outside with half a dozen or more suitable roof coverings.
These are: normal concrete tiles, corrugated iron roof sheeting, slates, mock-thatch metal or fibre-cement tiles, mock-thatch metal or fibre-glass sheets, or a normal plaster coat over the thatch, made to look exactly like thatch. All these applications need appropriate application methods. Don’t try it without the essential technical advice.