If you can bank on anything then it is the fact that trends are cyclical. Most of Britain spent the post-war years trying to cover up, disguise and rid their homes of any obvious Victorian features. Now we are spending a fortune buying up period features from reclamation yards, stripping out false ceilings and restoring original doors and glasswork.
Around this same time we also dispensed with real fires and the fireplaces that housed them. Buoyed by the availability and affordability of gas central heating and gas fires, we decided that smoky old fires were a thing of the past. We didn’t, however, consider how comforting and homely open fires were, or how they formed a wonderful centrepiece for our homes. More and more people are now uncovering beautiful tiled fireplaces, reinstating a mantelpiece and installing an open fire or stove-style burner.
In some cases the fireplace will simply have been boarded and possibly plastered or papered over, which makes fireplace restoration very simple. But others will have been bricked up, with chimneys being taken down in extreme cases.
As there may be structural consequences for fireplace restoration and as it can present a safety risk, you should get a professional out to give it the once over and let you know how much work may be needed. They will also be able to advise you about the best way to go about fireplace restoration and any surround, as well as any structural work that may need to be done.
The flue (the part that leads up and out) and chimney (the part that sits outside your roof) will need to be clear and working in order for you to have an efficient and safe fire. This means that both will need to be examined and tested repairing any cracks that may exist. The flue may also need re-lining for safety reasons, especially if there are wooden parts in there.
Finally, the chimney will need a thorough sweep, to rid it of any dirt, birds’ nests or other potential blockages or fire risks. Even if you can see light when you look up, this is hugely important from a safety perspective, especially with an open fire. Harm from a fire and carbon monoxide poisoning present potential dangers from a blocked, damaged or dirty flue.
Costs for this kind of job can vary greatly and depend on exactly how much work needs doing. On average, you can expect to budget around £1,000 for re-opening, re-lining and then being able to use your fireplace, flue and chimney. Extensive work to restore parts of a flue or chimney could bring the cost up to double or more.
You will also need to consider the cost of a stove if you are opting for this instead of an open fire, as well as any extras such as a fire basket and accessories for keeping the fire going. Always make sure that you get a good idea of costs before any work begins.
There is one last thing that you will need to do before you light your fire and break out the hot chocolate and slippers and that is to check which kind of fuel you can burn. In many parts of the country, especially London, there are restrictions on what you can put on your fire, as these are smokeless zones. You can find out if you are in such an area and which fuels you can burn via DEFRA’s dedicated website.
Need some help restoring your fireplace to its former glory? Find a qualified and trusted fireplace specialist on Rated People for fireplace restoration and put the elegance back into your home.