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An outdoor fireplace is a great backyard feature that will add years of enjoyment to your Bergen County home. It will expand year-round outdoor entertaining possibilities and create a cozy, welcoming atmosphere for your backyard.

Although an outdoor fireplace is a desirable home amenity for any homeowner, the costs of construction and installation can take a big bite out of your budget. Before you build an outdoor fireplace, make sure you consider your needs and important factors that will impact your outdoor fireplace prices.

Fireplace Location

The location you choose for your outdoor fireplace will impact your overall costs, so you should think about building your fireplace in the best possible spot. For maximum convenience, your fireplace should be close to the house for easy access, but far enough away so it doesn’t create a fire hazard for the house and adjacent structures.

If you have a small backyard, you can attach the fireplace to your house, patio or deck to save landscaping areas and reduce construction costs. If you have a large backyard, you can build your outdoor fireplace further from the house on a remote patio or terrace area.

Although a remote location will increase your overall costs, it will provide additional entertaining space and privacy for backyard activities. If you have a backyard pool, spa or hot tub, consider locating the fireplace near those features for additional light and warmth. Your family and friends will love gathering around a warm, cozy fire after an evening swim.

Depending on the layout of your backyard, you may find that there are obstacles to your desired fireplace location. Hillsides, steep slopes, overgrown trees and shrubs and underground utility lines can create extra work for your landscape contractor and increase your outdoor fireplace prices. It’s important to discuss your desired fireplace location with your landscape contractor prior to building to avoid any potential problems and unexpected costs.

NOTE: A gas fireplace will require a gas line. By locating your fireplace close to the house, you can save money. If you choose a more remote location for your fireplace, a gas line must be trenched and piped to a connection point at the house. The longer the gas line, the more it will cost in materials and labor. Gas lines require special permits and must be installed according to city building codes and regulations. They must be installed by a licensed professional contractor to ensure safety.

outdoor-fireplace-pricesDesign Features

An outdoor fireplace is considered a permanent structure that requires special building considerations that meet local building code regulations. Whatever type fireplace you build, it will house a firebox and a chimney, so safety regulations must be enforced to prevent fire hazards. The firebox must be made from non-combustible, fireproof materials and the chimney must have adequate ventilation that prevents dangerous fire and smoke back drafts.

The fireplace foundation and chimney must be constructed from a hard, non-porous material like concrete, stone or masonry that provide a secure, level platform to prevent fireplace damage from cracking that can happen with ground settling over time. If you build your outdoor fireplace in a remote area of your yard, you will need to build a solid platform, patio or terrace for support, so you will need to factor that extra cost into your outdoor fireplace prices.

Hearth

The hearth is technically the floor of the firebox, but an extended hearth continues beyond the firebox across the front of the fireplace. This is done to create a convenient seating surface, which allows users to get closer to the fire for warmth during cold weather. It must be made of non-combustible materials and will be an add-on to the basic fireplace.

Storage

Smaller outdoor fireplaces are often little more than a firebox and chimney, but larger fireplaces often have storage areas for fire wood. Larger, custom-built fireplaces can be built with special compartments for pillows and cushions, fire screens and fireplace tools.

Ventilation

Outdoor fireplaces require proper ventilation to prevent smoke and fire. If you’re locating your fireplace next to the house, never build it under a wall or roof line with a blocked airway, otherwise smoke could enter the house and cause a potential health and fire hazard. Always store a fire extinguisher near your outdoor fireplace in case of unexpected fire.

Drainage

Your outdoor fireplace will require proper drainage if it’s not covered. This will prevent the accumulation of standing water which can weaken the fireplace foundation and cause cracking, crumbling and structural damage. As a Bergen County homeowner, you’ll want to protect your fireplace from excessive rain, snow, ice that can cause structural damage over time.

Custom-Built Fireplaces

Size

If you plan to use your fireplace for entertaining, it’s best to build a larger fireplace with an extended hearth that comfortably seats four to six people. If you want a fireplace that provides a more intimate setting, a smaller fireplace may be adequate for your needs. Outdoor fireplaces can be built as small as 3 feet wide x 2 feet deep x 4 feet tall, or as large as 15 feet wide x 4 feet deep x 15 feet tall. Consider your backyard space and how you plan to use your fireplace to determine an appropriate size that fits your needs and outdoor fireplace prices.

The size of your fireplace will be a major factor in overall costs. A large fireplace with an extended hearth and built-in accessories will cost more in materials and labor. If you’re using a fireplace kit, the project will go faster and construction costs will be cheaper, but shipping costs will increase with a larger unit size.

Although a larger fireplace will increase your costs, it will provide more opportunities for outdoor entertaining and better warmth. A common mistake that homeowners often make is building a firebox that’s too small to save money. A small firebox will provide less heat, so your outdoor activities may be limited to warmer weather.

An extended hearth is built across the front of the fireplace beyond the firebox opening. It creates a  seating area that lets people sit closer to the fire for warmth. It’s also great for warming up after a dip in the pool or spa in the evening. An extended hearth will add to your outdoor fireplace prices, but it’s a wonderful feature to have.

Shape

Most outdoor fireplaces are built in a rectangular shape, but they can be designed in various shapes including square, round and oval. The firebox opening can be rectangular, square or arched and the chimney can be tall and rectangular or tapered at the top, but the fireplace must be built with function and safety in mind. When choosing a fireplace design, choose a shape that enhances your home’s architectural features and your landscape design.

Materials

There are numerous non-combustible building materials for outdoor fireplaces, including natural stone, brick, stucco and concrete. Stucco and concrete construction can also be faced with beautiful materials like stacked stone, fieldstone, flagstone, slate and river rock.

Available building materials come in a variety of textures, patterns and colors that will compliment any architectural style home. The materials you choose for your fireplace will have a big impact on your outdoor fireplace prices.

outdoor fireplace pricesPrefab Fireplaces

A prefab fireplace offers a fairly substantial look with custom appeal, but it’s cheaper to build than a custom-built fireplace due to less labor. A majority of prefab fireplaces are made of reinforced concrete and equipped to burn natural gas or propane. One advantage of prefab fireplaces is quick installation, so you can enjoy it almost right away.

A custom-built fireplace can take months to design, build and install. If you use a prefab fireplace, you will need to factor in shipping, freight and delivery charges, so look for a manufacturer that’s near your location to lower those costs.

Fireplace Kits

Pre-built modular fireplace units can be purchased through some paver companies who use their own products for construction. Outdoor fireplaces made from fireplace kits fit together in pre-built sections. Most fireplaces come in three or four sections usually set in place by a forklift. When the fireplace is finished, it looks like it’s built out of many individual blocks.

Although fireplace kits are less expensive than custom-built fireplaces, you will have additional outdoor fireplace prices for footings and a concrete foundation, as well as labor to assemble the fireplace units.

Unfinished Fireplace Models

Some companies offer outdoor fireplaces that come ready to be customized. The fireplace structure is prefabricated, but it’s delivered in an unfinished state, so you can customize the fireplace with your own materials.

Unfinished outdoor fireplaces are typically constructed from cast concrete or sturdy concrete board, so they are rather heavy. The ability to customize the fireplace with materials of your choice is appealing, but those materials and labor costs will increase your outdoor fireplace prices.

If you’re interested in an outdoor fireplace for your Bergen County home, contact Borst Landscape & Design and talk to our landscape professionals. We can design a fireplace that meets your needs and budget requirements and enhances the beauty of your home and landscape.