Adding a Fireplace: Is It Actually Possible?
Wood-burning fireplaces, once a standard feature in many homes throughout the country, have declined considerably in the last four decades. With homeowners opting for the convenience of central air and heat many builders simply built homes without installing fireplaces to reduce costs and to conserve space in homes that were considerably smaller than in the past.
But now fireplaces are experiencing a resurrection in popularity as a trendy home feature. In fact, it is often one of the most desirable features sought by home buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The trend is being fueled in part due to homes being built today are over 1,000 square feet larger than those built in 1973, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This has many homeowners wanting to know how they can add a fireplace to a home that was built without one.
Installing a traditional wood-burning or gas fireplace with a chimney is a major home renovation project that will most likely require a building permit. Before you begin construction, check with the local building department in your community to understand what is required to comply with your local building codes. Also, if you live in a community with a home owners or condo association (HOA or COA) you will also need to find out if chimneys are allowed in your community. Your local fireplace dealer can also provide you with a wealth of information about planning and installing a traditional fireplace in your home.
You can also add a vent-free fireplace insert without the cost of constructing a chimney. Fireplace inserts have the same look and feel of a traditional fireplace when built into a custom hearth and mantle and even offer the same gas and wood fuel options. But since they are self contained heating appliances, they do not require a vent. They are also a lot more energy efficient than a traditional fireplace, require less maintenance and are easier to keep clean. And zero clearance inserts can be installed practically anywhere even in rooms with limited space like in the kitchen without the risk of fire.
Although an electric fireplace may not sound as romantic as a traditional wood-burning fireplace, they do offer a realistic experience at a fraction of the cost. Electric fireplace inserts can be installed inside a custom firebox or built as a stand-alone unit. Since it operates on electricity, it heats up the space quickly and provides continuous heat. They can also be controlled remotely and have adjustable heat settings. Electric fireplace inserts are a great way to add a fireplace in a home or condo on a limited budget. Also, units with LED technology are very cost-effective costing just a few cents per kWh to operate.