They say home is where the hearth is. Nothing can quite match the magic of an open fire or wood burner for a cosy glow on long winter nights. The feeling of contentment solid fuel fires provide is also enhanced by the fact that they’re not just raising the temperature, but could also be increasing the value of your home. In fact, research has shown that fitting the right fireplace can add thousands of pounds to the value of your home.[i]

With all the associated health and safety risks of having a real fire in the centre of your home, it’s important to choose a competent fireplace professional who won’t just help you choose the right fire for the space; but will ensure it’s correctly installed to keep you and your family safe and also meet building regulations.

This guide will help you find a local fireplace specialist you can trust.

What they do

A fireplace specialist installs wood burning, brick, biofuel and inglenook fireplaces. This involves carrying out any building work such as knocking out the hearth and also building or relining the flue (if required) to ensure smoke and fumes are safely vented away. They will also finish off the job by installing a mantelpiece and plastering or tiling to create a beautiful and functional focal point in your room. Fireplace specialists also work with AGA, gas or cassette stoves.

What they charge

The cost of hiring a fireplace specialist to turn your burning desire into reality depends on how much remedial and finishing work is required, and also the price of your fireplace or wood burner.

For example, fitting a wood burning or multi fuel stove with full chimney liner and a simple hearth will cost around £1,500 to £2,000. Then you need to factor in the price of the stove which can range from £500 to more than £2,000.

Or you may be lucky and have a chimney that doesn’t need relining and simply want your old multi fuel burner replacing with a stylish new model. This shouldn’t cost much more than the price of the new stove.

Unless you’re a qualified fireplace installer, don’t be tempted to do it yourself.  It’s not worth putting the safety of yourself and your family at risk with a faulty installation or by fitting a stove or fireplace that doesn’t meet safety standards. What’s more, badly-fitted stoves can lead to chimney fires which can cause thousands of pounds worth of damage to your home which probably won’t be covered by insurance.

What to ask

  • If they installing a real fire, are they HETAS registered? If so, they can install your fireplace safely and legally and issue the necessary certification
  • If they are installing or removing a gas fire, are they Gas Safe registered?
  • Does the chimney really need lining? Ask for a second opinion from a local chimney sweep (ensure they are members of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps) which will only cost around £40 and could save you thousands
  • Will you carry out a proper and full site and chimney appraisal and help me to ensure the right appliance for my needs is chosen?
  • What is included in your costs?
  • What certification will you supply and how will this meet the needs of my insurers?
  • What about Document J of building regulations?

Trades to trust

HETAS is the official body for solid fuel, wood and biomass heating systems, fuel and services and ensures its members are trained and competent. It is recognised as a testing and approval body for the solid fuel industry.

The National Association of Chimney Sweeps provides professional chimney sweeping as well as technical expertise for the safe operation and maintenance of chimneys, appliances and the installation of flue systems, stainless steel flexible liners and flue terminations.

The Gas Safe Register list of qualified and registered gas engineers. Your fireplace specialist needs to be registered if they are fitting a gas fire.

The law

Once a stove has been installed, it needs to be checked and signed off by a local authority building control department, which can cost £200. However, a HETAS qualified engineer can self-certify their work to ensure it meets all necessary regulations.

UK Building regulations state that new heating appliances must meet a minimum efficiency rating. This is 65% for a stove, and 67% for one that incorporates a boiler.

Always make sure you buy a stove with the CE mark so you’re assured that it meets the right European safety and efficiency standards for stoves in the UK.

You must also comply with building regulations Approved Document J.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different fireplace specialist to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.

Certification and references

Don’t be shy about asking for any relevant certification, proof of public liability insurance and references or photos from previous jobs. If the fireplace specialist is trustworthy and competent, they’ll be pleased (and proud) to show you both.

[i] http://www.independent.co.uk/property/interiors/where-the-hearth-is-fitting-the-right-fireplace-can-add-thousands-to-the-value-of-your-home-770469.html