With the weather cooling across the country, the fireplace is again enjoying a rise to prominence in the home, warming hands and adding a bit of charm to the autumn evenings. For many of us, it adds a feeling of home no matter where you are, and as it turns out, it adds a lot of appeal for home buyers as well. The question of the day, however, is whether or not that appeal translates into a higher home value or simply a potential headache?
The Equity of Warmth
In a 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors, up to 40% of buyers without a fireplace will spend more money for a home with one, so by default we’re seeing increased interest in properties that have fireplaces. In the same study, this could add as much as 12% to the home’s value depending on the type and placement of the fireplace. (This amount varies from location to location, but generally the normal amount that people would commit to spending for the fireplace is between $1,200 and $1,400 more.) While indoor fireplaces are generally liked more, outdoor fire features have become very common for luxury properties.
Mileage May Vary
Fireplaces are not on everyone’s needs list, usually for practical reasons. They add a lot of ambiance, but in a home short on storage or wall space, it might be just as beneficial to take out a currently existing fireplace and add cabinetry, wall space, or even a window. While there certainly is a sense of hominess created by the warmth and glow of a fireplace, replacing it with a new window might open up a dark room and change the entire feeling of the space. There are also some buyers who don’t like the idea of maintaining a fireplace. If you think that your home might benefit from removing a fireplace, be sure to ask your Realtor before making any big changes.
Should You Add A Fireplace?
If you’re considering adding a fireplace, it’s very important that you follow building code when adding extra elements to your home. A fireplace is not a small addition to a home, as you need more than just space. A fireplace without permits can be a liability to you, your insurance on the house, as well as a point of contention when it comes time to sell. Proper ventilation, maintenance, and fuel usage requirements might be different from city to city, so check in with your local government before you go all in on something that might be restricted in your area. Keep in mind that in Southern California, there are restrictions on adding permanent indoor and outdoor wood-burning devices.
Also, if you’re adding the fireplace for resale purposes, bear in mind you might not see a return on your investment. Depending on the type of fireplace that you add, it can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 and you’ll likely only add a small fraction of that cost to the value of your home. So if you’re planning on selling your house soon and won’t have time to enjoy it for yourself, that same money might be better spent on a kitchen renovation, or replacing necessities that need attention elsewhere in the houseer your outdoor areas and if a fire pit or some other heating feature would add some appeal and still be allowed by the city.
Your Home Hearth
The fireplace provides many homes with charm and warmth. If it’s something you don’t put a lot of value into, you shouldn’t feel like you’re somehow negating the value of your home if you remove your fireplace. But if there are any concerns about the impact on your home value, a local Realtor will be able to tell you help you evaluate.