Bulger's Beat: Craftsman brings thatched roof style to Tennessee - WSMV News 4

Bulger's Beat: Craftsman brings thatched roof style to Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tile and tin are the roofing style used by most Americans, but once in a while there's a need for something different.

The thatched roof is a symbol of wealth and power in England and Ireland, where you'll see the unique structures everywhere.

But here in the United States, they're rare. So when one was wanted here in Nashville, there's really just one thing to do: call a blue-collar, proud Scotsman named Colin McGhee.

"Every job is different. I think it's easy, because I can't do anything else," he said.

Sometimes, dreams that reach for the stars only make it to the roof.

That worked out fine for Colin McGhee, one of just two thatched roof crafters in America.

"It's feast or famine, either busy or not. Not like England where there are 60,000 thatch roofs that need maintenance or replacing," McGhee said.

Here, the straw-like structures stand out. One month ago, an old cabin in the gardens of the Cheekwood Museum needed a facelift.

So, Colin got the call. But don't call what he's done "art.''

"Really, do I look like an artist?" he said. "I don't have a ponytail or an earring, maybe I could charge more if it was art. It's a roof, not something wacky or weird; it's just a good roof."

Thatched roofing is a style thousands of years old and guaranteed to keep you dry inside.

"No it doesn't leak. The pitch is so steep the water runs off, doesn't run through," McGhee said.

He has spent 34 years in the United States, with his blue-collar skill and style.

And like the roofs he makes, McGhee is both practical and solid.

"There's enough money to make a living, you're not going to get rich doing it," he said.

But he has no worries and is happy to be here.

"Always wanted to come to America, since I was a kid, I love it here. Nashville, I love Nashville too," he said.

McGhee says in America it's almost always people with a lot of money who decide to put a thatched roof on their house, but it's not because they're more expensive. In fact, they cost less than a typical tiled roof.

He thinks the rich like it because they have the money to travel and have actually seen thatched roofs working in other parts of the world.

McGhee says the roofs can last for up to 60 years and do a great job at insulating the home for summer heat and winter cold.

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