When you’re considering a home renovation, don’t overlook the value of an updated fireplace. Real estate professionals and house-hunters in the Madison WI area agree: fireplaces are one of the most sought-after features. Nationally, more than 60% of home buyers say they are looking for a home with a fireplace.
Expanding or adding a family room or opening up an older floorplan to increase daily living space is a great reason to remodel. If there’s already a fireplace, bringing it up-to-date is a worthy investment. Otherwise making room for a new fireplace is a popular option. The National Association of Home Builders as well as Angie’s List report an up-dated fireplace may add as much as $5,000 to the home’s value.
There was a time when the fireplace was a heating tool for the home. Today, it goes beyond providing warmth. Words found on social media describing what a fireplace adds to a room include comfort, cozy, happiness, a homey feel and luxurious living.
Modern fireplaces come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and designs. However, there are two basics getting most of the attention: traditional wood burning models and gas burning fireplaces.
Choose The Updated Fireplace For Your Lifestyle
Traditional wood burning fireplaces remain popular. However, a gas burning fireplace is the most sought-after version in the 21st century. The cost of adding or up-dating either one varies. Details like running a gas line to the location have to be considered. After the fireplace is in, ongoing costs vary, too. Unless you have a ready supply of wood, you’ll have to purchase wood for a traditional fireplace. Availability of wood varies too. The cost of natural or LP gas changes, but overall the daily cost of using a gas burning fireplace are not excessive.
Both gas and wood burning fireplaces have their pros and cons to consider.
The advantages of wood burning fireplaces include:
- Awakens the senses – the smell of wood smoke is a traditional sign of the seasons. The snap, crackle and sizzle of burning wood adds to the experience.
- A reliable energy/heat source – for centuries wood fires have provided heat to homes of all sizes.
Wood burning fireplaces are not without their drawbacks, including:
- Installation costs – if you’re starting from scratch adding a wood burning fireplace requires serious construction. The fireplace must have a complete chimney. There are local, regional and state building codes to deal with.
- Cost of wood – in an urban area buying wood can be expensive. The impact of the cost depends upon whether you plan to use the fireplace as a heat source or just for “atmosphere.”
- Not energy efficient – a traditional open fireplace loses a high percentage of its heat up the chimney and drafts from outside are common.
- High maintenance – with burning wood comes clean up chores. Burned wood leaves ashes and soot. The fireplace has to be cleaned regularly and ashes must be disposed of. In addition, to prevent chimney fires the chimney must be cleaned on a regular basis.
The Most Popular Fireplace For Your Remodel
What makes a gas burning fireplace popular? Is it flipping a switch for instant fire? Or nothing to clean up when the fire goes out? Consider the advantages of using gas:
- No hassle – no need to “build” a fire. No hot embers.
- Plenty of fuel – no wood to stack, buy or split.
- Clean – clean inside and outside – including the air around them.
- High heat – unlike early versions that were mostly cosmetic, modern gas fireplaces generate a lot of heat. And, with optional fans they can move the warmth into a room quickly.
- Safe – there are two types of gas installations: direct vents and ventless. Neither has a chimney.
- Direct vents – the safest choice, draw air in from outside and exhaust all combustion gases outside.
- Ventless inserts – the most efficient (around 98% efficiency compared to 92% for direct vents) because no heat escapes. Have your contractor check local codes to be sure ventless installations are an option in your community.
- Little maintenance – periodic cleaning and a regular inspection are all they need.
- Environmentally conscious – gas burns efficiently and there’s little or no air pollution associated with exhaust. No smoke. No ash or creosote to clog chimneys either.
For all their pluses, there are some drawbacks, too:
- Fuel cost – depending on the fuel you have access to, gas might be the more expensive choice. LP (propane) can be expensive and the cost varies a lot. If you already heat with natural gas the added cost of a fireplace won’t impact your monthly bill much. Unless you have access to wood you can cut and split yourself, buying wood can be costly, too.
- Aesthetics – the “fake” logs in a gas installation are more realistic than ever, but they still don’t look “real.” There’s no snap, pop or aroma of burning wood.
Plan Your Remodel Around An Updated Fireplace
Decide early in the planning process where you want a fireplace. Location is important to design, style and installation options. If you’re working with an existing fireplace, decide if it stays or moves. Additional details include how to update both looks and performance.
Location depends upon how you plan to use the fireplace. Do you want a roaring fire to greet guests when they walk in the front door? Are you adding a comforting accessory to your remodeling master bedroom? A small fireplace enhances a cozy spot while a large installation boosts the usefulness of a large family room.
The fireplace mantel was created to catch and direct smoke into the chimney. Today, it is designed to catch the eye of visitors and family. An eye-catching mantel turns the updated fireplace into the focal point of any room. Choosing the “right” material is a personal touch available in many materials, colors and sizes.
Surround your fireplace in your personal style. Field stones, bricks, marble and tile are all options for surrounding your fireplace. Do you want a rustic, country look? Or are you looking to surround the fire with warmth and elegance? You have dozens of ways to make your dream come true.
Don’t overlook nearby lighting. A fireplace produces a cascade of light. By adding complementary lighting you build on the mood. Darker mood lighting exudes intimacy. Ideally suited to a bedroom fireplace. Brighter lights and brighter colors generate energy. Perfect choices for a family room.
Draw Upon Remodeling Experience
To be sure the installation of a new fireplace or renovation of an existing one fits the overall remodeling plan, work with an experienced contractor. With specialists on call to cover all the details, a skilled contractor makes sure every aspect of your remodeling project fit together flawlessly. Attention to detail and continuity are critical. Understanding how the fireplace fits into the overall vision for the space ensures a safe, efficient installation.
Safety is vital. When the plan calls for working with an existing fireplace, make certain all its parts are working properly – clean the chimney if it burns wood.
From living rooms to bedrooms a fireplace increases your appreciation of home. As you formulate a remodeling plan, look to Sims Exteriors & Remodeling to make it happen. Call 608-825-4500, or email us. We’ll take your ideas and turn them into reality. A reality that includes an updated fireplace to increase the value of your Madison WI area home.