Fireplaces – Necessary?

Fireplaces & Your Home Comfort

Nothing will make your home more unique than the warmth and style of a fireplace.  A fireplace will be your home’s central gathering point and its design, style and colour will be the foundation to the rest of your house and home decor.  Thoughtful planning and design will ensure your fireplaces improves the beauty, value and energy efficiency of your home while also lending to the stability and durability of its architecture.

fireplaces, archid architects, house plans, home designAlong with the aesthetic benefits of a house design that incorporates fireplaces come the possibility of energy savings.  If installed correctly and with the right accessories, fireplaces may reduce your monthly heating bill.  Fireplaces should be installed with tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange that allows the warm air to circulate back into the room more efficiently.  Of course keeping the damper closed and well sealed when not burning a fire is an absolute necessity to control cold air entry into your home.  Traditional fireplaces may not provide the amount of heat you need to warm your entire home enough to significantly reduce your monthly utility bills.  Homeowners with wood fireplaces should also consider the cost of wood used to fuel their fires.  While nothing compares to the crackle of a warm fire on a long winter night, careful consideration should be given to the type of fireplace to install.

There are several important elements that must be considered before, during and after the construction of fireplaces.  If designing from the ground up, you will then have an opportunity of deciding the location and size of the fireplace.  Architects must know early in the house design process if your home will have one fireplace, one fireplace on each floor or if you plan to have the contemporary design of a central fireplace.  When adding fireplaces to an existing home there are many other options to consider.

Gas fireplaces or Wood Burning?

warm-fireplacesOne of the first considerations when planning for the installation or construction of your fireplace is to decide whether you want a gas or wood fuel source.  Selecting from these options will also mean a large difference in installation price.  Homes with wood burning fireplaces are typically much more expensive than their gas counterparts and can cost the homeowner up to R100 000 to have it installed.  Unique, difficult to design and/or large ornate fireplaces will cost significantly more.  Of course if you are working with an architect to design a new home that includes a wood burning fireplace, the cost may be significantly less and incorporated into the overall cost of the home and save you money.  Gas fireplaces cost in the range of R60 000 and can provide just as much heat and aesthetic beauty as a wood fireplace.

Gas fireplaces reduce the backbreaking work of summers spent chopping and hauling wood in preparation of winter.  They are convenient and can usually be turned on with the turn of a key or push of a button.  They cost significantly less to install and still provide the aesthetic beauty that many homeowners seek from a fireplace.  Gas fireplaces do need yearly maintenance so expect to pay about R3000 a year in upkeep.

Wood fireplaces are the traditional cornerstones to many homes.  They are reminiscent of the simplicity of earlier times and are the perfect winter evening pastime.  Most homes include a fireplace simply for their aesthetic beauty and the ambience they provide a home.

Aesthetics & Fireplace Inserts

After considering the architecture of your fireplaces you will have to design the front facing décor of your unit.  Thoughtful consideration should be given to the colour and type of mantel you would like to have as well as the colour and type of covering you would like your hearth to have.  Mantels and fireplace inserts come in a large variety of materials and designs.  Wood mantels can be sculpted from nearly every type of tree and will allow the design to match flooring and other wood furniture colours.  The simple and basic design of a prefabricated mantel is also a possibility.  These prefabricated mantels can be purchased in several different sizes and a few different styles.  Prefabricated mantels are often less expensive than the custom designed wood models.  The fireplace’s hearth is an important element of your fireplace.  A properly designed hearth will protect your flooring from sparks and help reduce the risk of fires escaping the containment area.  A brick hearth is a popular style and allows the homeowner to select from many sizes and colours of brick to match the home’s décor.  Another option that adds to the beauty of rustic fireplaces is to use stone or rock on the hearth, around the edges and on the chimney of the fireplace.

Pre-fabricated Fireplaces

Today’s technologies in home design and fireplaces have opened the door to many manufacturers that now create several models and styles of pre-fabricated fireplaces to fit almost any need.  These prefabricated models are often much easier to install and cost significantly less that custom installed models.  The wide variety allows the homeowner to select a style, size and colour that is right for their home.  Additionally, most of these pre-fabricated fireplaces can move should the owners have to relocate.

Whatever you decide, a properly planned and installed fireplace will add to your home’s beauty and provide years of enjoyment.