Q: How much would it cost to remove a brick fireplace and chimney, so we can join two rooms?
Irene S. of New York City
A: Taking out a brick fireplace and chimney, especially on a potentially load-bearing wall, is no small task. You’re looking at a minimum of $10,000 for that kind of work. It'll be a big task, involving at least a couple of dumpster loads of waste and a week or more of work in your house.
You should also be aware that by removing a fireplace, you’re losing a potentially valuable feature of your home. A fireplace can add thousands of dollars of value to your house.
Still, there are reasons to consider moving forward on this idea, including joining rooms. If you’re still interested, keep several things in mind. This is a major remodeling project, so you want to solicit multiple bids for the job. Review local and state regulations for whatever kind of licensing is required for this kind of remodeling, and verify that whomever you hire has the proper licensing, bonding and insurance.
It’s always a good idea to ask for references, but it’s crucial with a project the size and potential complexity of which you’re contemplating. Find out if the contractors you’re considering have experience with this specific kind of work, and ask previous clients how it went.
It’s also important to have several viewpoints on the safety factor. A good contractor will probably have a structural engineer of their own to verify that it’s safe to remove the fireplace and wall. If they don’t recommend a structural engineer’s opinion, ask for one yourself.
Make certain your contractor pulls the correct local permits for the work, and if they tell you not to worry about them, consider that a red flag. A permit helps ensure they’re doing the work according to local code and accepted standards, and in most cases, the permitting agency will send an inspector to verify the work is being done safely.
Removing load-bearing structures from your home is a serious job, and you want to know what you’re doing every step of the way.
Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question firstname.lastname@example.org.
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