A master roof thatcher was brought in as one of Britain's biggest property developers constructed its first new build thatched roofed homes in Somerset, writes Jonathan Coles.

Craftsman Nigel Bunce, 49, has just finished two new-builds after being signed up by Bovis Homes.

The property development firm said the thatched roofs on the buildings in Wells, Somerset were the first time it had ever used the historic feature.

Thatching, the craft of building a roof with materials such as straw and reeds, has been used on homes for hundreds of years.

But its use gradually declined from the end of the 1800s - eventually being thought of as a sign of poverty.

A renewed interest in thatching then began around three decades ago and it is now seen as a symbol of wealth.

Thatched roofs are also said to be popular among people interested in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials.

Nigel is one of roughly 1,000 master thatchers in Britain and began learning the craft 31 years ago.

He said: "I absolutely love my job.

''Seeing the transformation take place when the roof goes on is wonderful, as you witness such a change to the building in a relatively short amount of time.

"I have two people working for me and I enjoy passing on my knowledge and experience to them to help keep the craft alive.

"I've worked on a range of projects in the past from historic buildings to more contemporary developments and having a respect for the traditional methods, while embracing new techniques is so important.

"It's been great to thatch some new homes and they look really characterful."

Read next: A Lostwithiel farm and a Camelford smallholding smash their guide prices at auction

Nigel added that it typically takes three to six weeks to complete a property depending on its size and design.

He used water reed for the thatch plus Dutch tiles to cap the top of his two most recent properties.

Mick Arnold, construction director at Bovis Homes, said: "This is the first development where Bovis has used thatch to roof a property.

"Nigel grows his own wheat reed and is a member of Somerset Master Thatcher's Association and The National Thatching Straw Growers Association, so his passion for the craft was apparent and we were keen to work with him from the outset.

"He's very skilled and the thatched roofs at Priory Fields add real character, while also providing excellent insulation.

"Using a sustainable and traditional construction method ensures the new homes blend into their surrounding environment and it's great to see the thatched homes completed.