With age, many chimneys have become more trouble than they’re worth, even allowing damp to penetrate the house.
As the vast majority of the population has moved onto gas central heating within our homes, our chimneys have slowly but surely become redundant – and while a few continue to maintain and repair them in tribute, it’s not always the best option.
Chimney breasts are visible on the wall of your home, spanning all floors. The hearths are where your fire would be stacked and flues refer to a square tube inside the chimney that carries out the smoke.
Chimney stacks begin at the loft and emerge out the roof. From each hearth, the flues lead up and out of the stacks through several pots.
In this article, we discuss how much it costs to remove chimney breasts and stacks, what affects the costs of removing a chimney, how to save money if you decide to remove your chimney breasts or chimney stack, what the job involves and how to find and hire a tradesperson for the job.
If you’re tired of the upkeep, or just want to free up some extra space, then removing your chimney can be a great option. Keep reading to find out if it’s the right choice for you.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Chimney?
Removing your chimney does not necessarily mean everything from top to bottom has to be taken out. Not only would this job be monstrous, but it would also be expensive and require extensive design. Instead, most will remove key sections depending on their requirements.
Depending on how extensive your chimney removal is, your quotes will differ. Here are some estimates on the most common services:
|Service||Labour costs||Time required|
|Removal of first floor chimney breast||1500||3 days|
|Removal of first floor chimney breast while retaining bedroom breast||1175||4 days|
|Entire chimney breast removal leaving stack only||2050||5 days|
|Re-plastering and making good||250||1 day|
|Removal of chimney stack (regular size)||£1,000 - £1,600||Half day|
|Removal of chimney stack (large size)||£1,000 - £1,600||1 to 1 and a half days|
You will likely pay £1,500 for a professional job on a semi-detached house of average size.
This quotation includes fitting gallows brackets in the loft, a concrete hearth, and any plastering that many need to be done. This will likely require two tradespeople to complete and you will most likely have to finish off the decorating in the room or pay additional costs.
Hypothetically speaking, if the job was carried out on the ground floor, whilst retaining the bedroom breast; the job would stretch to four days and £1,775.
Then for an entire chimney breast removal, leaving only the stack remaining, it becomes a five days job for £2,050.
You may need to allow for a further day and an additional £250 if there is a lot of stripping and re-plastering that has to be done.
For a regular size chimney, two roofers can remove the stack in just half a day. Larger chimneys may take up to a day and a half.
For removing the chimney stack, the cost can range between £1,000 to £1,600 across most parts of the UK.
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What Affects the Cost of Removing a Chimney?
Removing a chimney can quickly become a very costly endeavour, both in money and in time. Some big jobs cause the prices to rocket, so it’s best to get to know them so you know what you can look to do to bring your costs down.
The Scope of Removal
Consider why you want to remove your chimney. If the stacks have fallen into disrepair you may only require chimney stack removal, which limits the work and cost to the loft and roof areas only – therefore costing less than an entire removal.
However, removing a chimney breast from a room in your house will help create more space within your home. If this is your intention, then you may only require it to be completed in a single room.
If rainwater is causing condensation within the chimney and your house you may even consider chimney capping. Since the chimney removal cost can be high, this presents a cost-effective alternative to getting the job done, but for considerably less than full-blown removal.
You should also check the condition of your chimney liner and take into account whether or not this may need to be repaired or replaced.
Relevance of Locations
The type of house and chimney design is also a key factor when considering a chimney removal, and the associated costs.
You can’t simply remove the chimney breast from a bedroom in a fully detached house as the exterior stack will be left unsupported – however, this isn’t a problem for semi-detached houses since the party wall has strong self-supporting brickwork.
Also, you can usually remove your ground floor chimney breast without causing too much imbalance.
It’s a case of scoping out what work you want doing, and then getting in touch with a professional who can tell you the best way of getting it done with the least amount of disruption – and hopefully, cost.
Unfortunately, removing a chimney isn’t as easy as just snapping your fingers and deciding to get rid of it. There are legal considerations to keep in mind, and sometimes these can bump costs up if you’re expected to do a set amount of work to fit their criteria.
You will also need to contact local authorities and building control departments to clear your work. It’s conformity that costs time and money but must be respected.
It’s not just for your own safety but also to prevent later complications with building surveyors and selling your house.
While you may have adhered to structural guidance, this doesn’t always mean it’s always practical or legal to proceed with. It’s a major structural change to the home and will require guidance or clarification from a structural engineer, incurring further costs.
How Can I Save Money When Removing a Chimney?
The best way to save money when removing a chimney is to simply do it yourself. But, there are key considerations to bear in mind:
Do It Yourself
It’s a dusty job, so you’ll need suitable clothing and protective gear. Long sleeves, safety boots, mask, gloves and eye protection.
You’ll need to protect your home, so consider hanging plastic from the ceiling to reduce dust distribution and contain the debris. Try to create an enclosed work area with plastic sheeting and tape.
Take it apart brick by brick. You can use a hammer and chisel for the smaller areas, and a mini impact hammer to speed through the rest.
You may need to cut/remove ties to framing members as you go through the floor – if you’re in any doubt, a professional can advise on this.
Remember, you will still need to finish the room. Cost and time can increase rapidly when you consider how to finish the room after the chimney removal.
The hearth should have suitable flooring; the walls may need plastering and final decoration installed.
If you have a chimney that you don’t want to be removed but are conscious of the ways it could cost money should birds nest in it, or bad weather clog it up, read our chimney capping article for further information on costs and tips on saving money.
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What’s Involved in Removing a Chimney and Chimney Stack?
If you’re hoping to save money, it might be an idea to first check if your chimney can be repaired. This could potentially save you on the labour costs of having to remove the chimney entirely. Our guide covers what’s often included in this type of work and for what cost.
If your property is semi-detached, you first need to ensure the chimney is yours to remove or come to an agreement with your neighbour. Remember there are several building regulations you need to be aware of.
You will certainly need to have scaffolding in place to ensure you can perform the job safely at height, whether you’re doing this yourself or having professional tradesmen perform the service for you.
- Scaffolding will be put up and around the chimney stack
- The cement flaunching, cowls/pots will then be taken out
- Bricks will then be taken out one-by-one, lowering them down to the ground
- A new layer of roofing felt, timbers and tiles will be fitted
- Final throwing away of any waste, or re-selling valuable materials
How Do I Find and Hire a Tradesperson?
The best way of starting your search is to simply ask family, friends, and neighbours for recommendations for tradespeople they’ve used recently.
If someone on your street has recently had work done to their chimney or roof, it’s worthwhile asking if they’d share their trader’s details – and crucially, finding out if they did a good job or not.
This is a great way of sidestepping potential rogue traders and can save you from stress and wasted money.
If this isn’t possible, using an online tool to consolidate your search onto one website like HouseholdQuotes is a good way of speeding up what can otherwise be a time-consuming job.
Entering your search criteria into the tool, you can then compare traders with one another, safe in the knowledge that they’ve been pre-vetted and are reputable options for you to choose from.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
With projects as significant as removing your chimney, it’s always wise to collect several quotes from qualified tradespeople. They may be able to point out aspects you hadn’t considered, and allow you to decide whether or not it’s something worth doing yourself.
Here are some questions we suggest you should ask the tradespeople:
- How will you remove the bricks, dust and soot from the house?
- How will you prevent the spread of dirt around the house?
- Will you be contacting local building authorities on my behalf?
- Will you organise all building control documents?
- How much re-plastering will be required?
- How will the hearth be finished?
It’s important to note that you should never allow tradespeople to dissuade you from contacting the local building authorities. This isn’t at all professional and will cause big problems for you in the future if you end up going against the authority’s advice unknowingly.
Similarly, you shouldn’t work with a trader who refuses to give you a written quote – not only is this bad business etiquette, it shows that they might be out to play fast and loose with you and claim recompense for things initially ‘missed’ out of a verbal quotation, or misunderstood by you.
Always get a written quote – and if they refuse to give you one, simply walk away.
Much like a job interview, it’s a good idea to find out their experience and get hold of any references from previous jobs and clients, as well as any photographs or videos of their completed work. This will help you to align their expertise to your needs and find you a great match.
And last but not least, you should also check they have public liability insurance to cover chimney removal.
Choosing to remove your chimney isn’t something you should land on lightly, and there are lots of considerations you need to make sure you understand before undertaking any work, either by yourself or by a trader.
Here’s our final checklist:
- Check with your local council first to find out if what you want to do is possible and viable in your area
- Decide why you’re removing the chimney. Is it causing damp, is it too expensive to keep repairing and not using, or do you want to free up some extra space by losing a chimney breast in a room?
- Speak to several traders to find out what’s possible, using HouseholdQuotes to find reliable and reputable traders in your area
- Discuss possibilities and make sure to ask how they’ll remove things safely and with minimal impact to you and your home
- Make sure you are allowed to remove the chimney, and that you adhere to any legal considerations
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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I Need Planning Permission or Building Regs Approval to Remove a Chimney or Chimney Stack?
Don’t be tempted to miss this step – you can end up with fines or having to undo your work if you go against what’s permissible in your area.
In most cases, there will be certain rules you’ll need to adhere to for the work to be accepted by the council. Find this out before you get started on anything to save time and money.
Can I Remove a Chimney Myself?
You will still need to consult professional advice at the beginning, and keeping building control offices informed along the way will prevent any troubles from arising unexpectedly.
Do I Need a Structural Engineer to Remove a Chimney Breast?
Don’t be hesitant to spend money here – this will save time, money and headaches in the future. To ensure you receive a completion certificate from the local construction authorities, you must provide accurate plans.
Below are the key considerations to bear in mind:
- Gallows brackets are often used for supporting the chimney above a removed breast. Typically they are fitted on either side of the loft stack with a length of steel to prevent bricks from dropping. It’s a slightly unsightly solution but it can often be hidden within the loft space.
- Any chimney breasts that are left to hang between can be secured using adjacent joists. Fitting a noggin with plywood underneath the breast prevents bricks from falling from the bottom.
- With loft conversions or other larger projects, simple brackets may not be able to provide the needed support. In these cases, steel beams can be used to replace the load-bearing materials.
- In some occasions, your chimney may not be constructed on the party wall, be aware they are a different structure to other chimneys. Whilst you will still share a chimney stack, it will connect at ground level and not the loft space.
Do I Need a Party Wall Agreement to Remove a Chimney Breast or Chimney Stack?
You need to ensure you have full permission to modify the structure of your building, taking into account the restrictions on listed buildings and conservation zones.
Is a Chimney Breast Load-Bearing?
If you are attempting to do this job yourself and are unsure about any of the aspects, it’s always best to get a professional on-site to help with any questions or queries to make sure your home is always safe, and what you’re proposing to do is sensible and with the correct procedures in place to avoid injury or breaking of rules.
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