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
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.
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.
● 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.