Lately, open fireplaces have surged in popularity. Many people are reclaiming their open fireplaces, opening them up to install new open fires, gas burners or recessed electric fires.
A 2018 survey found that some 45 to 55% of homeowners rated a gas or log fireplace as a desirable decorative feature.
It might be as easy as peeling back a hardwood covering to reveal a classic open fire. Older homes might even be hiding hidden riches in the form of wrought iron or marble fireplaces.
This article will cover the costs of opening up a fireplace in the UK, factors that affect the cost and other common questions around opening up a fireplace.
Average Opening Up a Fireplace Cost
We contacted 27 fireplace contractors for quotes. Depending on whether you’re installing a gas/electric heater or a log burner will affect the price.
If it’s a gas/electric heater, no flue is needed and the first bold price is what you’ll pay + cost of the heater itself. If it’s a log burner you’re planning to install,the bottom bolded price is what you’ll pay + the cost of the log burner itself.
|Remove Existing Fireplace & Open Up Fireplace to Builders Opening||£100||£200|
|Install Hearth and Lintel||£400||£500|
|Total Fireplace Opened Up with Hearth and Lintel Laid||£500||£700|
|Add Flue Liner (Usually Only Needed if Log Burner Will Be Installed)||£300||£550|
|Total Cost (Log Burner Only)||£950||£1450|
Remember you need to add the stove/heater installation costs on top of these. We’ve done an in-depth wood burning stove installation cost guide, but generally you can expect to pay anywhere between £400 – £2000+ depending on the quality of the stove/heater.
Therefore, you can pay anywhere between £900 – £3000+ total (including the installation of the heater/log burner) depending on the quality.
Factors Affecting the Cost of Opening Up a Fireplace
Are You Installing a Log Burner or Electric/Gas Heater?
If you are installing a log burner, then a flue liner needs to be fitted. Gas or electric are normally fine without. Installing the flue liner itself is +£300 – £550 plus other remedial work.
If the fireplace is removed and the lintel and hearth laid (normally suitable for a gas or electric heater), then this will cost £500 – £700 before the heater is installed.
However, a log burner will need a flue + plastering, hence the higher cost of £950 – £1450 before a stove is installed.
Prices vary wildly depending on the design and quality of the stove you buy. Prices tend to start from about £400 but can go up to £3,000+.
Generally, products that have been manufactured in the UK or Europe will tend to be slightly more expensive than Chinese products.
What type of fireplace you wished to install may involve extra costs, for example if a new lintel is required to make the opening larger, this can cost an extra £100. Even beams above the fireplace can vary from £95 to £395.
Whether the Gas Line is Still in Workable Condition
A live gas fire will need disconnecting and the pipe capped. This will add extra labour cost.
Is the Chamber is Still Sealed?
This will affect how much remedial work is needed to open the fireplace, incurring extra labour cost.
Location & Company Size
Prices in the south of the country are generally more expensive than in the north. In London and surrounding areas, expect to pay an extra £200 – £300 for the extra labour costs.
One-man or small traders will usually charge less. Expect to pay a couple of hundred pounds extra for a larger firm with overheads.
How Do I Know If My Building Has a Chimney?
It can be tricky to know if your home has a functioning chimney.
Check the Roof
The first thing you want to do is look at your home from the outside. Does it have a chimney sticking out from the roof?
Although this is a pretty good sign that your house has a chimney, some homes use those pipes as exhausts for gas appliances rather than a fireplace.
Check Your Deeds
Your deeds/ownership documents will likely indicate that your house has a chimney. If you’ve got a floor plan, you should find the chimney indicated.
If your chimney has been filled, you might even be able to find details of the works, which could be very helpful when you reinstate the fireplace.
Otherwise, you might end up ripping plaster off just to see that there’s a steel beam in the way.
Check For a Chimney Breast
A chimney breast is when the chimney projects forward from the wall. You may find a chimney breast in your living room or upstairs if you have a fireplace.
This is a telltale sign that you’ve got a fireplace you can open up, especially if you find one in your living room.
Check Your Walls
Not all fireplaces are built in a chimney breast. You might be able to hear a difference in the timbre of your wall when you tap on them, which may indicate a hollow.
Run your hand across the chimney breast – you may be able to feel an indent from the lintel or fireplace. Knock on the wall; you’ll likely be able to tell that it’s hollow.
If you have a large, old house, then you may even have multiple chimneys. It might be possible to check how many flues you have in your attic.
Do I Need To Ask a Surveyor Before Opening The Chimney?
Don’t go knocking down any walls; it’s essential to consult a surveyor first.
Unless you can find detailed documentation in your deeds to suggest why a previous owner(s) filled in the chimney, you don’t know if they did it for structural or aesthetic reasons.
While removing a piece of hardboard is fine, if you find that your fireplace has been filled with bricks or other hard materials, then you’ll need to find out whether removing those is safe.
Why Open Up a Fireplace?
Many homes have a fireplace that was sealed up during renovations, to create a standard wall, or simply as an aesthetic choice.
Exposing the fireplace can restore some old character and create a unique centrepiece for the room. Also, an indented fireplace saves space compared to a protruding electric fire.
Create Visual Interest
Open fireplaces are interesting and create a unique visual centrepiece for a room. Some older homes might have spectacular fireplaces made from marble or with cast-iron inserts.
Indented fireplaces save space compared to protruding fireplaces. Knocking in your fireplace might unlock additional space for your home.
Install a Wood Burner or Gas Fireplace
Modern, efficient wood-burning stoves or gas fireplaces look superb and might be cheaper to run than electric fires. The sense and smell of burning logs suit rural, semi-rural or period properties.
Building Regulations and Planning Permission for Fireplaces
Changes to the fireplace will not involve Planning Permission, but you will need Listed Building Consent if you live in a Listed Building. Failure to obtain this is a criminal offence.
Due to their nature, fireplaces are covered by a series of rigorous and rather convoluted rules in Approved Document J of the Building Regulations. Most rules apply when there are combustible materials near or surrounding the new stove.
A suitable distance must be supplied between the stove and those materials, which is usually specified in the manufacturer’s guidance for the stove.
The typical figures are 3″ and 6″ at the sides of the fireplace, 2″ to 3″ behind the fireplace and 12″ or more above.
Don’t buy a fireplace before measuring up your recess, as you’ll need to make sure it fits in accordance with these guidelines.
Additional rules apply to the flue, which must be suitably protected from fire, debris, drafts and condensation.
It may also be necessary to fit vents close to the fire. Vents are usually inserted into the floorboards if possible. An installer enrolled in the Competent Persons Scheme will be able to self-certify the work to Building Control.
Solid fuel appliances should be installed by a HETAS-qualified installer or engineer. HETAS will supply a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate, which certifies the installation of a solid fuel burner.
Solid fuel burners must also comply with a certain level of fuel efficiency. From 2022, only the cleanest log burners and solid fuels are allowed in the UK.
Any gas fireplace may need the gas to be routed to the appliance. A Gas Safe Registered engineer must install any gas appliances – this is a legal requirement.
These rules essentially rule out the possibility of a DIY fireplace installation, and doing so could be very dangerous.
Types of Chimneys
There are different types of chimneys and flues.
Class 2 Chimneys
Class 2 prefabricated chimneys and flues are generally not suitable for burning solid fuel, but are fine for gas or gel fireplaces.
There’s little point in planning a solid fuel project if you have one of these chimneys. The flue is essentially an exhaust pipe which transports smoke and gas outside.
Class 1 Chimneys
A class 1 chimney, or a traditional chimney, is generally suitable for solid fuels.
If you have a fire recess, but your chimney has been filled or removed, you could still opt for a flueless gas fire. These have a built-in catalytic converter that disposes of harmful fumes.
They aren’t suitable for all rooms or walls. You could also install a new flue which exits the building from a nearby external wall.
It’s possible to rebuild/reinstate the entire flue and chimney system but this would be an expensive job.
Do I Need To Install a Flue?
You’ll likely need to install a modern flue if your property’s fireplace has been decommissioned for a while.
The flue is the internal section of a chimney that transports waste gas and smoke outside. There are a few different types of flues:
- Stainless Steel: For gas and gel fires only. Cheapest to install, costing around £400 to £600 including installation.
- Clay: Clay-lined flues are suitable for all fuel types. They’re more expensive, costing around £1,000 to £1,500.
- Concrete Liner: Similar to clay, suitable for all fuel types. More expensive, costing around £1,000 to £1,300.
How To Choose a Fireplace Installer
When choosing a fireplace installer, there are two important certifications to look out for:
- Gas fireplace installers must be Gas Safe registered.
- Solid fuel fireplace installers must be HETAS registered.
Failure to adhere to certain rules regarding fireplace excavation and installation may be a criminal offence. While many people excavate their own fireplaces DIY, messing around with any bricks or supports you find inside is off the menu. Moreover, there’s a chance that dust, soot and other particles will rush out of the recess, which can be nasty.
There are many specialist fireplace and flue installers in the UK. They will possess the necessary experience and equipment required to install a new fireplace in your excavated recess. They’ll also be able to advise you on your options and ensure the works comply with Gas Safe or HETAS guidelines and Building Regulations.
Get Prices On Opening Up a Fireplace Near You
We’ve done our best to give you a good idea of what you can expect to pay to open up a fireplace.
However, our guides are not a substitute for a fixed written quote specifically for you.
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