For some homeowners, chimney breasts add character to a room, especially if they feature open fires. For others, they are an annoying obstacle which cut down space and make fitting furniture in your room a headache.
However, leaving space considerations aside, the most important question to ask is whether you will weaken the structure of your home if you take out a chimney breast. If you live in a semi-detached or terraced home, it is also essential to know how the removal will affect your neighbour’s home too.
See our FAQs on removing a chimney breast.
If you simply go ahead hoping everything will be all right, you could be responsible for a lot of problems, and you might need to pay out for high remedial costs. You could even put people in danger through a collapse of floors, walls or ceilings.
To proceed on a solid footing, the best place to start is with a building survey by a qualified surveyor. Your survey will guide you through building regulations and engaging a structural engineer. While internal changes to a building do not need planning permission, if the work involves removing an external chimney, you may also need to approach your local planning authority.
Does removing a chimney breast devalue a house?
Chimney breasts are important features of older homes, and for buyers who want a home with a traditional feel they are a definite asset. If you remove a chimney breast from an older house, it is likely to be less appealing to a significant number of buyers. The value could slip, and the house may be more difficult to sell.
However, if you are in a home with a less traditional feel, creating more space by taking out chimney breasts could make it more saleable and possibly at a better price. One tip is to see what has happened in similar nearby properties, and to gauge what is right for the local market. If you do take out a chimney breast, it is important to retain surveys and building reports which show that the work complies with all local authority requirements.
Does removing a chimney breast need building regulations?
It is very important to follow building regulations for any structural work on your home, including chimney breast removals. Standards are set by the government, and approval is granted from local authorities. A qualified surveyor will be able to guide you through the process.
Are chimney breasts load bearing?
In a traditionally built two-storey building, a chimney breast on the ground floor supports the chimney breast above it on the first floor and into the loft space through to the chimney stack on the roof. If the lower chimney breasts are removed, temporary supports need to be used while a permanent supporting beam or bracket is put in place.
What is a false chimney breast?
Some properties feature false chimney breasts. These are essentially decorative features used to house electric or gas fires, or woodburners. They are not part of the structure of the house, and do not support a chimney. They are more common in homes built after the 1960s as central heating became more common. A false chimney breast can be removed without any risk of damage to the structure, but you should always consult a surveyor before you begin.
Are chimney breasts party walls?
In semi-detached and terraced homes, chimney breasts are usually joined to party walls to form a strong structure. By removing the chimney breast, you are affecting the party wall and you are subject to legislation under the Party Wall Act. You need to notify your neighbour about the work, and to make a formal agreement signed by both parties.
With extensive experience in all types of property and areas in the South East of England, we can help you to ensure your property will be safe and in a good state of repair for the long term.
To find out more get in touch with Robinson Elliott Chartered Surveyors today to discuss your concerns or requirements.