Removing a chimney breast

The early part of 2021 is continuing in the same vein as 2020. Many of us are cracking on with those home renovation projects, which are usually put on the back burner for some time. This article will look at the ins and outs of removing a chimney breast. In particular, whether it is the sort of project that needs the involvement of a dedicated structural engineer.

Why remove a chimney breast?

While we all love a good fire, and depending on our age we might remember a time when families huddled around the fireplace in winter, things move on. While the romance of central heating is not quite the same as the deep crimson and orange glow of a wood-burning stove or an open fire, the reality is that in most cases, fireplaces are a luxury, rather than a necessity. In addition, there is talk, thanks to the push towards a greener future of tightening restrictions on home fire-lighting. So, many are taking the step of removing the fireplace for the sake of the planet.

That is the first step, but the chimney breast will remain, so why not leave it as a feature? The answer is simple, space and chimney breasts take up potential living space. Which, as we’ve spent countless months in the home of late, we are all probably valuing more than ever. The removal of the chimney breast can free up valuable space, especially when some measure up to 2 or 3 metres wide and a metre deep. This is a lot of room that could be used for other things.

Do I need a structural engineer?

structural engineer is often an integral part of a home renovation project, as it is their job to determine the strength and durability of your building and how any renovation project might impact on it. They will be able to calculate specifications for your design and suggest the appropriate materials.

Whether you need a structural engineer for your chimney breast removal project, will largely depend on whether your chimney breast is real or false. A false chimney breast is for aesthetic effect only, and is usually made up of a wooden frame or stud work that is covered with plaster board or alternatively constructed from brick. If you determine that your chimney breast is false, you should only need the services of a local builder.

Of course, a real chimney breast is a structural alteration. If your chimney breast is real you need to get in touch with a structural engineer. A real chimney breast is likely to have been constructed at the same time as the house, thus support beams may need to be added to support the masonry above. A structural engineer will be able to determine what is needed and make any necessary structural calculations. Before commencement of the project, you will need to submit your structural calculations to local building control for approval.