House hunting can be both exciting and tedious. And you should be especially careful when buying a home with a fireplace. While it can be a great source of joy and warmth, it can also be a major source of drafts and leaks, so it’s important to know what you are buying. Here are a few tips on buying a home with a fireplace from our Baltimore chimney inspection and repair professionals.
Do You Want a Fireplace?
Before you do anything else, decide for yourself whether you actually want to have a home with a fireplace. Is it one of the must-haves on your list? Do you like the look but are not that excited about the maintenance? Or maybe a fireplace would be nice to have but you could live without it? Answering these questions will help you set your priorities and make the right decision depending on what the inspection reveals.
Get a Fireplace and Chimney Inspection
Needless to say, get your fireplace and chimney inspected before buying the house. Depending on how thorough your home inspector is, it may be beneficial to hire a professional Maryland chimney inspector who would know more about chimneys and fireplaces. Keep in mind that just because your home is advertised as having a “working fireplace,” doesn’t mean it’s entirely true. While the fireplace may indeed be functional, it could have been built or repaired with code violations, or it could have deteriorated over the years and would require a replacement very soon.
Consider Your Options
If the chimney and fireplace inspection reveals major issues that will prevent you from using it, go back to our first point and decide what you want to do about it.
Option 1: Don’t buy the home. If a working fireplace is very important to you and you don’t have the money to spend on repairs or replacement, then you may have to move on. Also consider the overall value of your home without the fireplace. If the house is on the high end of the market, or if fireplaces are expected in your area, having a non-working one may be a turn-off for potential future buyers.
Option 2: Negotiate with the seller. If the fireplace doesn’t work and you are not getting what was advertised in the real estate listing, then you have all grounds to ask the seller to drop the price. Alternatively, you can ask them to keep the price but repair or replace the fireplace depending on what the inspector suggested.
Option 3: Convert the fireplace with a gas or electric fireplace insert. If you don’t care about having a wood-burning fireplace, converting it into a different fuel type may be a great option. Both gas and electric fireplace inserts feature artificial logs. Electric fireplaces also have fake flames, although they can look very realistic. Gas fireplace inserts have real flames, so they typically require a chimney to vent, although ventless models are also available. If your current chimney is not safe to use as is, adding an insert may fix that problem.
Option 4: Leave it be! Seal the chimney, insert a chimney balloon, close the damper and decorate the fireplace. Even though it no longer works, a fireplace can still be a focal point of your bedroom or living room. Here are a few ideas on how to transform your non-working fireplace into a unique design feature:
And if you need professional advice, get in touch with our Maryland chimney and fireplace experts at Town & Country Chimney.