Sunday, January 13, 2008

5 Things to Consider before Remodeling Your Fireplace

The sub-prime mortgage crisis and the resulting clouds on the horizon for the economy may have cooled the real estate market, but savvy investors know that renovations are still a great way to increase the value of your home and give you an edge when it comes time to sell. The best way to maximize the return on your investment is to Do It Yourself. And a fireplace remodel is a great project you can tackle yourself—possibly in a single weekend!

Of course, it’s easy to make mistakes when choosing the right fireplace remodeling option for your home. If you spend too much, you might not get a good return on your investment. If you do something wrong or attempt a remodel that’s too complicated, you might have to call in a contractor to fix things up.

Here are five things to consider when picking the fireplace remodel that’s right for you:

1. It’s Not a Competition. MTV’s Cribs and other television shows may be all about one-upsmanship, but that is a terrible way to plan a renovation for your own home. Don’t try to outdo your friends and neighbors; choose the remodeling option that you want, the one that’s right for your home. A huge, ornate fireplace in a tiny living space will end up looking out of place. And an expensive remodel may not give you the best return if the estimated value of your home is already higher than most others in your neighborhood. The website can provide an estimate of home values by address for comparison purposes.

2. Pick an Option You Can Live With. A recent Newsweek article titled With Lust in Our Hearths said, “Homes are an appealing form of wealth: after all, your 401(k) may be a better investment, but it can’t host a barbecue.” When investing in a fireplace remodel, be sure to take into account how you want to use the fireplace in your home. Want to curl up in front of the hearth? Be sure to get a fireplace screen or fireplace door. Want a working fireplace without the hassle and mess of wood? Consider gas logs. Don’t need a working fireplace? A fake fireplace might be just the thing for your living area.

3. Have the Right Tools for the Job. A major fireplace remodel may require some heavy-duty tools. For example, cutting bricks from a fireplace may require a custom saw blade or grinder along with a good shop vac to control the dust. If you plan on crafting a wooden mantel or surround from scratch, you can’t just start sawing boards with your circular saw—at the very least, you’ll need a good miter box to cut lumber and moldings accurately. This applies to tile and stone as well. If you don’t have your own workshop, you might want to consider a custom crafted hardwood mantel that you can install yourself with the tools you already have in your toolbox.

4. Make a Budget. This may be the key to your investment. Businesses don’t start a new project without a budget and a plan, and neither should you. Write down your budget and study it before you start spending money. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I listed all the materials necessary and the total cost for each?
  • Do I have the tools for the job? If not, is it worthwhile to buy them?
  • Have I budgeted for unexpected expenses?
  • Will this give me a good return on the money I’m spending?
  • Can I afford this?
5. Know Your Limitations. It’s easy to turn on This Old House or HGTV and think, “I could do that!” But before you commit to a project, take a good look everything involved including the time and the level of expertise necessary. It can be good to challenge yourself, but don’t bite off more than you can chew--you will regret it in the end. If the remodel you are considering looks like it’s too much for you to handle yourself, you can either hire a contractor or consider a simpler option such as painting fireplace brick.

Taking the time to review your fireplace remodeling options and create a written plan and budget will help to ensure a successful fireplace renovation—one that you can enjoy while living in your house, and one that gives you a good return when you decide to sell.


  1. Cool blog. I dig your site outline and I plan on
    returning again! I just love finding blogs like this
    when I have the time.
    Thanks for sharing these helpful tips!

  2. Hi Jon, after going through the post I realized that you have a very good insight on fireplace remodeling. You've written it very clear and easy to understand. Thanks buddy!



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