How to buy an an­tique fire­place

Jeff Den­nis, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Bri­tain’s Her­itage, of­fers ex­pert ad­vice

Homes and Antiques Magazine - - 10 WAYS -

What do we need to con­sider when buy­ing an an­tique fire­place?

Ev­ery old house de­serves a pe­riod fire­place. The age and style of the house and the im­por­tance of the room will dic­tate the type and style of the fire­place but, above all, choose one that you will ap­pre­ci­ate and en­joy.

How can we en­sure it’s the right size?

Don’t con­cern your­self with the size of the cur­rent fire open­ing, as it can be made to suit your cho­sen fire­place. Prop­er­ties dat­ing from be­fore the 1960s will have been built with a ‘builders’ open­ing’ into which the fire­place you buy can be fit­ted. The width of the chim­ney breast is the im­por­tant mea­sure­ment – it must be no less than the width of the man­tel­piece – and the fire­place should be in pro­por­tion to the room.

If I buy a re­claimed fire­place ‘as seen’, what dam­age or de­fi­cien­cies can be fixed and what can’t?

An un­re­stored fire­place may have parts miss­ing that can be dif­fi­cult or im­pos­si­ble to find, so al­ways buy from a spe­cial­ist com­pany that re­stores as well as sells an­tique fire­places. They will have made sure the fire­place is com­plete, re­stored to work­ing or­der and meets cur­rent HETAS (Heat­ing Equip­ment Test­ing and Ap­provals Scheme) reg­u­la­tions, or, if it’s gas, com­plies with Gas Safety reg­u­la­tions.

Can I fit an an­tique fire­place my­self?

All fire­places must be fit­ted by a qual­i­fied HETAS or Gas Safe reg­is­tered in­staller who will is­sue a Cer­tifi­cate of Com­pli­ance.

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