Installing A Fireplace; Is A Permit Necessary?

The last thing a homeowner wants is to have a project halted because they do not have a proper permit for their DIY (do it yourself) project when they should have had one. So how do you know if your fireplace install project needs a permit?

Generally, home projects that affect the structure of a home or interfere with electrical or gas lines will require a permit. This includes the installation of a fireplace. However, regulations may vary depending on the state and/or city you live in.

How do you go about finding whether you need a permit in your state or city? Does the permit require a professional to do the work, or can you install the fireplace yourself? Read this guide to learn all about permits.

Do You Need A Permit To Install A Fireplace?

Most jurisdictions will require a permit for projects that affect the structure. Installing a fireplace affects the structure by adding a structural element to the home and changing the roofline. Also, if the fireplace is gas, you would be working with gas lines requiring additional permits.

Each state and city within each state will have its own guidelines when it comes to permit requirements. A homeowner looking to DIY the project should contact their local city government to determine what permits will be required.

Usually, a permit will be required if the fireplace installation:

  • Alters the structure (walls, foundation, roof) in any way
  • Requires electrical work
  • Requires work with gas lines

How Much Does A Fireplace Permit Cost?

On average, the cost of a building permit is $1,292. Installing a fireplace requires a construction permit as a portion of the wall needs to be reconstructed for the chimney breast. Additionally, the ceiling and roof may need to be altered to accommodate a flue and chimney stack. Price will vary depending on the scope of the project.

Despite the national average price of $1,292, the actual price can vary widely. It ranges anywhere from $200 all the way up to $2000. The actual price depends on the size of the project and how much work and reconstruction is involved.

Lastly, the state or city can also influence the price of the permit.

What Happens If I Build A Fireplace Without A Permit?

Building a fireplace without permits could lead to extensive fines, trouble reselling the home, and having to undo and redo the work. Permits are required to ensure the project adheres to building codes and is safe. Without a permit, there is no documentation that the installation of the fireplace was done correctly.

  • Fines. A homeowner that begins a project without the proper permit may be subject to fines from the city until the permit is obtained.
  • Resale complications. A new buyer may be unable to purchase a home with unpermitted work because 1) it is unsafe and 2) they may not be able to get home insurance.
  • Undo or redo work. The city can stop work on a project that is unpermitted. Even if the work was done properly, they may require the work to be undone and then redone with proper permits.

How Do I Get A Permit For A Fireplace?

A permit for a fireplace falls under building permits. You need to request these at your cities website or call the office. From there, they will be able to direct you in regards to their specific procedures.

Listed below are a few general things to know:

  1. Obtaining the application. Applications are typically found on a city website. In cities that do not have a website, you may need to go in to the local office to retrieve the application. Sometimes, cities will offer appointment times to discuss plans before the application is submitted to help you determine the success of your home project.
  2. Submitting the application. Each city will be different, however, common methods of applying are by mail, by email, and by hand delivery.
  3. Paying the fee. A fee is charged when the application for a permit is submitted. The cost is determined based on the valuation of the project. For example, the permit for a project to build a fence will cost less than the permit for a new construction of an entire home.
  4. Waiting for approval. There is usually a waiting period for an application to be processed and approved. Waiting a few weeks to a few months is common, but be aware of delays. It is best to get an estimated time from the permit office.
  5. The final inspection. After the permit has been approved, work can begin. Once the work has been completed, there is typically an inspection to make sure that the project is completed to code. Any corrections are noted to either the homeowner or the contractor who completed the work. Once all corrections are made, then the project is completely cleared.

How Long Do Fireplace Permits Take To Process?

Permits can take up to several months to even longer than a year to process. In cities that process many permit applications, there can be a backlog in the system, thereby slowing down the process for everyone. Some areas that either has higher staffing or a smaller population may offer a shorter waiting period.

The process to approve a permit is usually faster for a residential permit than for a commercial permit, and the smaller projects are usually processed faster. Don’t be scared off by the waiting timeline; some areas have a very short waiting period. It’s best to ask your local city office for their estimate on the waiting period.

Can You Install A Fireplace By Yourself?

A fireplace can be installed by a homeowner so long as the correct permits are received and processed. There are penalties for skipping the permit process, leading to many painful complications for a homeowner. These include but are not limited to fines and tearing down/reconstructing the fireplace.

To install a fireplace by yourself, a homeowner should follow these steps:

  1. Choose fireplace type: wood burning, gas, or wood or pellet stove
  2. Map out design and determine the cost
  3. Seek professional advice to determine if there might be any complications to the project. For example, there could be hidden costs associated with altering a load bearing wall, changing the ceiling, or ensuring the chimney is not too close to utility pipes and wires.
  4. Retrieve proper permits
  5. Begin construction
  6. Complete inspection

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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