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Ideal Home Show – thatched show house

We have finally had a chance to reflect and write about our involvement in last year’s Ideal Home Show and how it came about.

In April 2016 we were approached by David Richards Associates (DRA) to see if we could help facilitate a thatched roof for one of the three show homes planned for the 2017 event. Each year, DRA build an entire show village with three show homes with very different designs and themes. The show village is the centrepiece of the event.

After many calls and emails, we met with the organisers, architects and the construction company to find out how it all comes together. Once agreed and armed with drawings, show information, build times etc. we made a start.

Paul Wareing & Tom Stevens from Heart of England Master Thatchers, both of whom have experience of working on exhibitions and film sets agreed to carry out the thatching.

The show homes are built off-site using a steel frame modular system and then transported to London Olympia for final completion. There are six individual modules that make up the show home, four of which were to be thatched. Each modular section weighs between four and six tonnes and have carefully aligned lifting points secured in the steel work.

The thatching started in January 2017 at the off-site location in West Sussex and by Friday March 17th the modules were ready and craned onto the HGVs, with an anxious Tom looking on.

Given the size of each module, transportation had to be carried out at certain times of the day at no more than 30mph with escort vehicles accompanying each HGV.

We arrived at Olympia late Saturday afternoon on the 18th March all wondering what lay ahead. We were greeted with an empty venue except for a massive crane, cherry pickers and an army of banksman to start putting the house together.  The thatched house was the first of the three to be set up and by 1.00am, the roof sections still had to be craned into place.

Sunday morning saw the roof sections finally put into place so Paul and Tom spent the rest of the day dressing and rethatching the roof where each modular section met and where the lifting straps had moved the thatch.

All works had to carried out via cherry pickers and/or drop wires. In the meantime, lorries were in and out all day bringing in the other show homes and it was quite surreal seeing how this massive arena started to take shape.

See the link below for photos of the initial build up off-site and at Olympia.

Ideal Home Show – Images

The thatched roof was finished on Monday afternoon, with the straw finials kindly provided by the very talented Master Thatcher – Lee Hawkins, who knowing the tight schedule, worked over the weekend to ensure we had them for Monday. Once all the thatching works were complete, the roof had to be treated with Thatchsayf Fire Retardant. Although no obvious risk of fire, the organisers were still somewhat nervous.

There were now three days left for the rest of the house to be ready for opening on Friday morning. This was also the time left to get our stand ready, although we were unable to make a start on the stand until Thursday morning!

Our involvement in the show meant we were given prime floor space and a (very bare and basic) stand next to the thatched house right in the middle of the venue. Prior to this there were lots of meetings, calls and emails between ourselves and designers to get the stand backdrops and furniture ready for the show.

Having only been involved previously in smaller trade shows and exhibitions it’s quite difficult to explain the sheer scale and madness involved in getting this enormous venue ready.

Hopefully the images below can tell a better story.

Ideal Home Show – More Images

From the moment the show finally opened on Friday 24th March, there were thousands of people looking round the venue and the thatched roof. This continued for the next seventeen days!

The show organisers were delighted with the finished roof and the comments and feedback from all the visitors was gratefully received.

Would we do it again?

Ummm…………………why not?

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