How to Re­move a Chim­ney Breast

Michael Holmes, Home­build­ing and Ren­o­vat­ing’s head of content, ad­vises on the best way to re­move a re­dun­dant fire­place and the cost

Homebuilding & Renovating - - Contents -

Michael Holmes ad­vises on the best way to re­move a re­dun­dant fire­place — and the cost of the work


We are ren­o­vat­ing an old ter­race, and plan to get rid of the chim­ney breast in the cur­rent liv­ing room on the ground floor as it’s just tak­ing up valu­able space. How do we go about re­mov­ing a chim­ney breast? Do we need per­mis­sion be­fore we start work, and how much can we ex­pect to pay for the work?


An in­ter­nal chim­ney breast can be re­moved at ground and/or first floor with­out hav­ing to re­move the ex­ter­nal stack, which avoids the need to al­ter the roof or ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance and char­ac­ter of the build­ing. Bear in mind that you only re­move sec­tions of the chim­ney, any­thing re­main­ing above, such as the stack, will need to be sup­ported.

The Process

An ex­ter­nal chim­ney stack can be re­moved from out­side the build­ing and, if done with care, need not cause dis­rup­tion to in­ter­nal decoration. Re­mov­ing an in­ter­nal chim­ney breast, how­ever, will cre­ate lots of dust and de­bris, so the room should be cleared and sealed off from the rest of the prop­erty as best as pos­si­ble. Any gas, plumb­ing or elec­tri­cal ser­vices for ex­ist­ing or old heat­ing ap­pli­ances to be re­moved should be iso­lated and al­tered first. If up­per sec­tions of the chim­ney are be­ing kept they should be sup­ported us­ing strong­boys on steel acrow props be­fore re­mov­ing the struc­ture be­low, and this sup­port re­tained un­til the new per­ma­nent sup­port, de­signed by a struc­tural engi­neer, is in place.

The ground floor stack should be taken down to ground level and you must en­sure damp pre­ven­tion mea­sures are in place to suit the con­crete or tim­ber sub­floor struc­ture. Any voids in the wall, floor and ceil­ings will need to be filled and made good.

Once the struc­tural work is com­plete, the wall will need to be re­plas­tered and dec­o­rated. The floor­ing may need up­dat­ing to fill the re­claimed space.


There are cer­tain rules of build­ing you must ad­here to:

● Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions The work should com­ply with the Build­ing Reg­u­la­tions and is ‘no­ti­fi­able’, mean­ing you must in­form the lo­cal au­thor­ity build­ing con­trol depart­ment and make an ap­pli­ca­tion, or use an in­de­pen­dent ‘ap­proved in­spec­tor’ who will do this on your be­half. The fee is around £200-£220 + VAT.

● Plan­ning per­mis­sion and listed build­ing con­sent Plan­ning per­mis­sion is not re­quired for in­ter­nal al­ter­ations as they don’t con­sti­tute de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, it’s an of­fence to make al­ter­ations to a listed build­ing with­out first ob­tain­ing listed build­ing con­sent.

The re­moval of an ex­ter­nal chim­ney will usu­ally be classed as Per­mit­ted De­vel­op­ment (PD) and au­to­mat­i­cally have plan­ning per­mis­sion. PD rights only ap­ply to dwelling houses and not to flats. PD rights can be re­moved or re­stricted for prop­er­ties in a con­ser­va­tion area or na­tional park, so check be­fore un­der­tak­ing work.

● Party Wall etc. Act (Eng­land and Wales) If any part of the work is on or close to the boundary with a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty, in­clud­ing shared party walls or struc­tures, you must serve no­tice on your neigh­bours un­der the Party Wall etc. Act. Bud­get £700£800 + VAT per neigh­bour af­fected.

● Per­mis­sion from the free­holder For lease­hold prop­er­ties, per­mis­sion for al­ter­ations will usu­ally re­quire a land­lord li­cence giv­ing con­sent to the works; for a shared free­hold, the other own­ers will need to agree to the works.

● Gas Safety al­ter­ations to gas ser­vices must be un­der­taken by a com­pe­tent per­son, and the best way to find some­one is to use the Gas Safe Reg­is­ter.

The Cost

● Ground or first floor chim­ney breast only: £1,400-£2,400 + VAT.

● Ex­ter­nal stack: £1,000-£2,000 + VAT.

● Full chim­ney in a two-storey prop­erty: £2,800-£3,800 + VAT.

Costs in­clude plas­ter­ing and mak­ing good skirt­ing, etc. Ad­di­tional al­lowance should be made for mak­ing good decoration and floor fin­ishes. Ex­pect the work to take one to two weeks.

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