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Camembear

House With Chimney Breasts Removed

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Hi all ! Have been looking at a house online, a terraced period property, three storeys....not very attactively modernised, hence a reasonable price. Bizarrely, the fireplaces/chimney breasts have been removed from the front and back across all three floors, I guess to create more space. A couple of questions, firstly, is this likely to have a structural impact ? and secondly, would it be impossible/prohibitvely expensive to reinstate one fire place +chimney breasts ? I have always wanted a woodburning stove, would this be possible ? Anyone else got experience of this ?

Thanks for any help !!! CB

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Hi all ! Have been looking at a house online, a terraced period property, three storeys....not very attactively modernised, hence a reasonable price. Bizarrely, the fireplaces/chimney breasts have been removed from the front and back across all three floors, I guess to create more space. A couple of questions, firstly, is this likely to have a structural impact ? and secondly, would it be impossible/prohibitvely expensive to reinstate one fire place +chimney breasts ? I have always wanted a woodburning stove, would this be possible ? Anyone else got experience of this ?

Thanks for any help !!! CB

Don't know about your first question but on the second, you can install a stove with a "stovepipe", no need for a brick chimneybreast I would have thought.

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When you take out the chimney breasts and fireplaces through the whole house it is important to support the chimney otherwise the weight of it is not being supported.

We took out the lower fireplaces/chimney breasts on our last house and used several 4x2s supported on the floor joists on the first floor to support the weight of the fireplaces on the two floors above.

I would get a building regs compliance certificate / survey if in doubt.

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Thanks GtI ! I did think something like this would be necessary... sorry if this is a dumb question, but is the presenceor absence of some kind of support (like you describe) easy to establish ? Would it be picked up in survey ? cheers CB

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I also remember a builder telling me if you take out the fireplaces but leave the flues without proper damp planning, they can act as damp spot sources as the natural ventilation effect is blocked.

could be balls, but worth asking someone who knows....

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Hi all ! Have been looking at a house online, a terraced period property, three storeys....not very attactively modernised, hence a reasonable price. Bizarrely, the fireplaces/chimney breasts have been removed from the front and back across all three floors, I guess to create more space. A couple of questions, firstly, is this likely to have a structural impact ? and secondly, would it be impossible/prohibitvely expensive to reinstate one fire place +chimney breasts ? I have always wanted a woodburning stove, would this be possible ? Anyone else got experience of this ?

Thanks for any help !!! CB

Not a builder but my understanding if not done properly the chimney could crash through the house!

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@Camembear - You would need to take a look up in the attic where the chimney breast finishes. Best get a builder to give it a quick look over IMO, but it is not uncommon to have the chimney breast removed in old houses.

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I wouldn't be happy buying such a place to be honest.

Chimneys structurally are supported from the bottom up so removing the 'bits that you can see' basically means removing the strength and support of the entire chimney - you're left with a lot of weight 'up above'.

Also, chimneys are often part and parcel of the support of the main walls.

Removing the fire-place is OK dependent upon what you mean by a fire-place but a chimney breast - nah. I would walk away.

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in the 60s and 70s chimney breasts were removed without regard to safety and some chimneys were unsupported. swaying back and forward in the wind. today building regs would require you stick large steels in to support the chimney.

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Hi all ! Have been looking at a house online, a terraced period property, three storeys....not very attactively modernised, hence a reasonable price. Bizarrely, the fireplaces/chimney breasts have been removed from the front and back across all three floors, I guess to create more space. A couple of questions, firstly, is this likely to have a structural impact ? and secondly, would it be impossible/prohibitvely expensive to reinstate one fire place +chimney breasts ? I have always wanted a woodburning stove, would this be possible ? Anyone else got experience of this ?

Thanks for any help !!! CB

Watch out for 'floating' hearths. This is where the breast is removed, but the first and second floor hearths are left unsupported. They can collapse into the room below. Check not just the breast was removed, but also the entire hearth.

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When we were looking to buy in North Devon I vaguely remember a newspaper report where the owners of a farmhouse removed a fireplace and the house collapsed.

Surprisingly it was a listed building and they had been refused planning permission to demolish it!.

Make of it what you will.

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I'm in the process of removing a chimney stack,2 internal walls & the whole ground floor external wall of a house,13.5m long to open out into new extension.

Steels should be used to support weight of remaining stack,not 4"x2" timbers.

If you call round build regs,they'll ask to see structural engineer calculations.

If you're in doubt pay to get a structural engineer in to assess.

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When you take out the chimney breasts and fireplaces through the whole house it is important to support the chimney otherwise the weight of it is not being supported.

We took out the lower fireplaces/chimney breasts on our last house and used several 4x2s supported on the floor joists on the first floor to support the weight of the fireplaces on the two floors above.

I would get a building regs compliance certificate / survey if in doubt.

The remaining portion of a chimney must be properly supported by cantilevering it to the main wall, not " used several 4x2s supported on the floor joists on the first floor to support the weight of the fireplaces on the two floors above"

If the chimney breasts have been removed from all rooms they may have also been taken out in the neighbouring property too (which is better). The work if done properly does not adversely affect the building's stability.

A modern stove can be served by a twin wall insulated stainless flue system which takes up far less space than a brick chimney would.

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The guy next door to me in my last placed removed all his chimney breasts, it was to make more space on each level, 4 storey house. I didn't really ask him how he done it and he's moved on now anyway. He had been a builder in the past so i'm guessing he knew what he was doing (it hasn't fallen down yet anyway) . My breasts were all still in place :blink:

A chimney stack could easily weigh a ton or two, and if it came down it could do some serious damage, so would obviously need to be done properly. shades of glasgow to anyone below.

Edited by motch

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Oh it's a nightmare isn't it?

I'm moving to a four-storey house built in 1840. Chimney breasts have been removed on three floors at one side of the house, as has an adjoining wall on the bottom floor. Everything looks in great condition and the work was done before the previous owners moved in. However, there are no building regulations certificates.

I'm told indemnity policies are pretty useless and only apply if the local authority get involved. I've got a structural engineer going round next week but I'm not sure how confident he can be that work is sound without doing any invasive work. Damn!

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Oh it's a nightmare isn't it?

I'm moving to a four-storey house built in 1840. Chimney breasts have been removed on three floors at one side of the house, as has an adjoining wall on the bottom floor. Everything looks in great condition and the work was done before the previous owners moved in. However, there are no building regulations certificates.

I'm told indemnity policies are pretty useless and only apply if the local authority get involved. I've got a structural engineer going round next week but I'm not sure how confident he can be that work is sound without doing any invasive work. Damn!

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Hi Natalie

Thanks, that is really useful. If you could give an update here after the structural engineer has had a look, that would be really helpful. Your last comment is really what I have been wondering about too - in the absence of any documentation how can a stuctural engineer really know what supports have been used without doing some damage ? Cheers CB

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The chimney does have a structural role in a wall so probably best left in place. However if removed, as other posters have commented on, make sure it has ALL been removed OR anything above removed section is properly supported. If you have any doubts about it, leave it alone.

As a footnote, think of abandoned or derelict buildings. Wwe don't tend to get many in the UK but when you do see them, or images of them, the chimney breast section of the walls are often the last bits left standing.

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Hi Natalie

Thanks, that is really useful. If you could give an update here after the structural engineer has had a look, that would be really helpful. Your last comment is really what I have been wondering about too - in the absence of any documentation how can a stuctural engineer really know what supports have been used without doing some damage ? Cheers CB

Hello Camembear,

I will do - he's due round in a week to 'survey the property to confirm the construction, noting beam and bolt sizes and spacing, or for a gallows bracket, sizing for all members, and to check the adjoining property for chimney breast removal.' After that, we might move to part ii) 'Carrying out a structural design and drawing to satisfy STG for building regulation approval.' However, everything I've heard about/read suggests that my local authority now insists on the gallows bracket thing. But to get retrospective approval would be a bit iffy as it's in a conservation area.

Good luck with your situation!

Natalie

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Cheers Natalie

Cheers Natalie, that would be really helpful, thank you ! :)

Hello Camembear,

I will do - he's due round in a week to 'survey the property to confirm the construction, noting beam and bolt sizes and spacing, or for a gallows bracket, sizing for all members, and to check the adjoining property for chimney breast removal.' After that, we might move to part ii) 'Carrying out a structural design and drawing to satisfy STG for building regulation approval.' However, everything I've heard about/read suggests that my local authority now insists on the gallows bracket thing. But to get retrospective approval would be a bit iffy as it's in a conservation area.

Good luck with your situation!

Natalie

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