Updating a fireplace can be an easy fix for an outdated look or a lack of safe operation. It is crucial to remember that fireplaces are real buyer-pleasers, but only when they are beautiful and completely functional. Fireplaces come in a great diversity of styles and can burn wood, gas or gel fuels. Therefore, when it comes to remodeling fireplaces, there are many options to consider in order to achieve the very best results. Remember, the goal here is to bring in more money when selling the home.
This tutorial explains the benefits of investing in a fireplace renovation prior to selling a house or apartment. Furthermore, we will discuss the most effective strategies that can be used to facilitate increased profitability when updating any fireplace in a saleable property.
Reasons for Updating a Fireplace
Fireplaces are consistently ranked among the top features on property buyer wish-lists. This is easy to understand, since no other home feature can match the charm, warmth and appeal of a functional fireplace. However, despite the fact that many properties do contain fireplaces, buyers might still be disappointed by the aesthetic or functional condition of these features. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that fireplaces are selling points, rather than liabilities, when placing a property for sale in the competitive marketplace.
If a fireplace looks dated, ugly or dirty, then buyers will view it as a major project that will need to be addressed immediately, in order for them to enjoy living in the home. If the fireplace does not work, or poses safety concerns, the negative effects are worsened considerably, often swaying prospective buyers to look elsewhere for their new dream home.
It is vital that fireplaces reflect the character of the home, while still functioning like a modern feature should; safely and easily. Therefore, when considering a fireplace renovation project, be sure to address both function and form when updating the fireplace in your home.
Options for Updating a Fireplace
Fireplaces can be left alone to continue to burn whatever fuel they were originally designed to use or they can be converted to a more modern and economical alternative. Wood burning fireplaces are still in great demand, but recent buyer reports place gas-burning fireplaces at the head of the list of desirable property features in most real estate markets.
Gel fireplaces rank the lowest in terms of buyer desirability, since these are really little more than large candles that must be purchased continuously and do not match the realistic flame capacity of gas or wood burning units. Therefore, in all but the most limiting circumstances, we recommend keeping wood burning fireplaces the way they were designed to function or converting them to gas burning. We do not recommend using other fuels, unless there is no other option, based on venting restrictions or other significant impediments.
Wood burning fireplaces should always be inspected for safe functionality by a qualified professional. If they are deemed safe, then some simple cosmetic fixes can transform them into property assets with little fuss. However, if functional concerns are found, these must be addressed in order to market the home successfully. If a fireplace safety issue is found by a home inspector, the entire deal could go bad quickly, so it is best to attend to these safety issues before placing the home on the market in the first place.
Gas burning fireplaces are far easier to keep running safely, as long as they were installed properly and are up to current code standards. Converting to gas is also rather simple and can fix many problems with traditional wood fireplaces. In fact, a gas conversion project might be easier, faster and less expensive than repairing an existing wood burning unit to remain wood-fired.
Updating a Fireplace Simply and Easily
Finally, we wanted to share some simple and easy to follow tips on updating fireplaces using the most cost effective and successful practices available to home stagers, contractors and dedicated DIYers. Once the safe functionality of the unit is assured, the cosmetics of fireplaces are easy to address using the following techniques:
Surrounds are often the worst part of an outdated fireplace. Fireplace surrounds can be easily replaced using inexpensive natural stone materials. In fact, this is a great place to save some money by going with a less expensive unfinished stone than with a polished surface tile, for example. Tile can also be a cheap fix and may be found in closeouts for a bargain price.
Woodwork is often in need of repair or replacement, especially on older units. Real wood touches are nice on wood burning fireplaces, but can be costly. Mantles and trim work can be sourced from reclaimed wood and may be available for pennies on the dollar.
Screens can diminish the appeal of any fireplace, especially traditional-styled metal versions that were used fifty years ago. Safety screens should always represent a contemporary style, except in historic homes. Never replace a fireplace and continue to use an old-fashioned screen (gold-plated metal, for example) as this will defeat the entire renovation process.
Changing the fuel type might be a great idea. Always choose the best fuel based on availability and property type. Wood burning fireplaces are great for a country cabin, but are extremely impractical for an urban apartment renovation. Change over to gas when possible to please more buyers. There are simple retrofit units that can makeover the most outdated wood burning fireplaces simply and easily.
As mentioned previously, be sure that all duct work and venting is safe, up to code and functional before spending any money on aesthetic improvements.
The easiest fix, and cheapest, can provide the most bang for the buck. Simple cleaning can make a world of difference in dirty old fireplaces. A good scrubbing and a fresh coat of special paint can update virtually any fireplace in a few hours time and with almost no monetary expenditure whatsoever. This is a true use of sweat-equity staging and has come in handy in my own staging business hundreds of time over the past ten years.