Is there anything more inviting at this time of year than a roaring fire? If you’re buying a home, then you may be looking at properties that have fireplaces. Perhaps you’re daydreaming about winter afternoons cozied up with a cup of hot chocolate, a good book, and a crackling fire in the fireplace. While owning a home with a fireplace can be a great joy, it comes with its share of challenges. Here’s what you should ask yourself if you’re thinking about buying a home with a fireplace.
Is a fireplace on your wish list?
When you decided to buy a home, you probably compiled a list of all the things you want and need to have in a home. Was a fireplace on that list? It’s easy to get swept up in the romance of a fireplace. But if it’s not a high-priority item for you, you may get bogged down by the maintenance and end up not using it. Really consider whether or not a fireplace is something you need to have and whether you can commit to taking care of it properly.
What are the fuel costs?
While you may imagine yourself sitting by the fire every night, is that financially reasonable? When you’re touring a home with a fireplace, notice what kind of fuel it uses. It may be gas, electric, or wood burning. No matter which kind of fireplace it is, you will need to spend money on fuel. Review what the costs of fuel are in your area to determine how much you may end up spending each season to use the fireplace regularly. Is it worth it?
What condition are the fireplace and chimney in?
A fireplace needs to be regularly maintained. Otherwise, in can develop issues that are expensive to repair. Do you notice any water damage around the fireplace on the inside of the home? How does the chimney look on the outside of the home? Does it have a chimney cap to keep animals, water, and debris out? Are there cracks in the concrete at the top of the chimney? Does the chimney lean, is it missing bricks, or is the mortar cracked? These can all be red flags that may indicate some costly repairs down the line.
Are you prepared to get a chimney inspection?
While home inspectors will do a general inspection of the fireplace and chimney, it is not comprehensive. They may check to make sure the damper works and that there are no obstructions in the chimney. But that is where their services end. If you really want to get an accurate picture of the condition of the chimney, you need to hire a professional chimney inspector. A Level 1 inspection will check for creosote or soot buildup, which can easily start a fire. A Level 2 inspection is even more comprehensive and includes an inspection of the attic, roof, and crawl space to check for specific damage.
While fireplaces are a hot commodity with homebuyers today, they don’t come without risk. If you’re considering buying a home with a fireplace, then be sure you understand what is involved before you seal the deal.