can i re­move my chim­ney breast to cre­ate space?

Ren­o­va­tor Michael Holmes ad­vises

Real Homes - - Contents -

Why re­move a chim­ney breast?

A work­ing fire­place makes a great fea­ture, but if you have cen­tral heat­ing, most chim­neys will be re­dun­dant and just tak­ing up valu­able space.

Should I re­move the whole chim­ney? An in­ter­nal chim­ney breast can be re­moved at ground and/or first floor, with­out hav­ing to re­move the ex­ter­nal stack – avoid­ing the need to al­ter the roof or ex­ter­nal ap­pear­ance and char­ac­ter of the build­ing. If you only re­move sec­tions of the chim­ney, any­thing re­main­ing above, such as the stack, will need to be sup­ported.

What does the process in­volve?

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 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 run­ning on the sec­tions 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 ‘acro 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 type of sub-floor struc­ture e.g. con­crete or tim­ber. 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, and it is likely the floor­ing will need up­dat­ing to fill the newly re­claimed space.

Do I need any per­mis­sions?

As the home­owner, 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 plus VAT.

Plan­ning per­mis­sion and Listed Build­ing Con­sent

Plan­ning per­mis­sion is not re­quired for in­ter­nal al­ter­ations as they don’t con­sti­tute de­vel­op­ment, how­ever, it is 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 terms of the Party Wall etc. Act. Bud­get £700£800 plus VAT per neigh­bour af­fected.

Per­mis­sion from free­holder

If the prop­erty is lease­hold, per­mis­sion for al­ter­ations will usu­ally re­quire a land­lord li­cence giv­ing con­sent to the works. In the case of 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 – search on­line at gas­safer­eg­is­

How much will it cost?

The cost will vary de­pend­ing on the ex­tent and scope of the works and the lo­ca­tion of the prop­erty.

Ground or first floor chim­ney breast only – £1,400-£2,400 plus VAT.

Ex­ter­nal stack – £1,000-£2,000 plus VAT.

Full chim­ney in a two-storey prop­erty – £2,800-£3,800 plus VAT. Cost in­cludes plas­ter­ing and mak­ing good skirt­ing etc. Ad­di­tional al­lowance should also be made for mak­ing good dec­o­ra­tion and floor fin­ishes. Work will usu­ally take one to two weeks, de­pend­ing on the pro­ject’s scope.

Michael holmes is an ex­pe­ri­enced ren­o­va­tor and di­rec­tor of con­tent and prod­uct de­vel­op­ment for Real Homes @Holmesmike

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