Last updated 11th November 2019
All you need to know about what's involved when having a chimney breast removed, including costs of materials, labour and time frames.
An iconic feature from the past, a chimney breast can be an archaic architectural detail that is simply getting in the way. If you have decided to remove a chimney breast, use this guide to understand what you can expect from your chimney breast removal.
Space is a priority in any building, so it is no surprise that many homeowners decide to remove the chimney breast to create more space or give a room a different feel. Although most chimney breasts have been out of use for some time, the task to remove a chimney breast is not as simple as you might have thought. Removing any chimney breast is a technical job because it involves the building’s structural supports, thus there are a number of building regulations that must also be followed.
What should you expect if you are planning to have your chimney breast removed?
There are a number of stages involved in the removal of a chimney breast. After breaking down the chimney breast, you will need to have a structural reinforcement such as a steel beam fitted in order to secure the integrity of the building.
Removing a chimney breast has an impact on the structure of the building, so before any work is carried out, you will need to contact your local council to find out about the necessary building regulations that you must follow and check whether there is any planning permission required.
It will be necessary to hire a structural engineer to design the structural support that will be used in place of the chimney breast. In addition, it is crucial that you ensure that your builder is highly experienced and has the expertise to complete the various elements of work that a chimney breast removal involves.
You may find that in addition to the chimney breast, you also have to have the chimney stack removed. In some cases, your chimney may be part of a shared central chimney system, which will mean that you will need to adhere to the 1966 Party Wall Act. A party wall will make the job more complex and take longer to complete, so you will need to consider how this will affect your overall costs.
Bear in mind too, that any work on your chimney breast must be approved by your local council from the outset and follow all building and health and safety regulations.
As you can imagine, removing a chimney breast generates a lot of dust and debris, so there will also be clean up work needed, as well as plastering and re-decorating of the area to be carried out. Thus, you may find that you also need to employ a plasterer, decorator or carpenter, which will increase your final costs.
As well as replacement structural support, the work to remove your chimney breast will also involve fitting robust insulation and damp-proofing. It is useful to bear in mind that the type of structural support, insulation and damp-proofing that you choose will affect the final cost of the job.
Rolled Steel Joist (RSJ) steel beams are the most commonly used type of structural support because they can provide a substantial amount of reinforcement across a wide area. Gallows brackets are an older type of support that are only effective in certain situations and are dependent on the thickness and condition of the walls.
Removing a chimney breast affects the very structure of your home and involves many stages and tradesmen, thus it is a not a job that you should attempt yourself or hope to complete within a short space of time. Further, every part of the work should be carried out by experienced tradesmen and follow all related building regulations and health and safety requirements.
When calculating how much the renovation is going to cost, remember to include the work and time needed to finish the space after the chimney breast is removed and the alternative support structure in place. The area will need skirting, plastering and decorating, as well as a concrete hearth to level the floor, all of which is going to add to the overall price of the job. Every chimney is different, the type of chimney structure that you have will dictate the amount of work needed and the overall cost of the renovation.
The average cost of removing a chimney breast is around £1500 - £3000, dependent on the size of your chimney and whether or not scaffolding will be used during the renovation.
As it is not necessary to remove the whole chimney and stack you need to evaluate what’s necessary for your renovation work. You also need to incorporate the prices charged by additional tradesman that may be required.
It may be cost-effective to hire a company capable of doing the whole job from start to finish but you need to ensure that they are competent in all of the different areas. This includes structural work, building and the decorating afterwards. You should also consider seeking out quotes from specialists in the areas of work you require to get an idea of how much everything would cost separately.
Your chimney breast removal is likely to require two builders, who usually work at a cost of around £150 – £250 per day.
The table below gives an idea of the costs of hiring a specialist to remove your chimney breast:
|Removing chimney stack only||£1200-£1400||4-8 hours|
|Removing a ground floor chimney breast||£1500-£1750||1.5-2 days|
|Removing a first floor chimney breast||£1750-£2000||1.5-2 days|
|Removing entire chimney breast without removing stack||£2200-£2400||2-3 Days|
|Removing entire chimney breast and stack||£3000-£3500||3-4 Days|
The calculator below breaks down the individual costs of removing an entire chimney breast without the stack - Total Cost: £2300