Chimney Removal Cost (Guide for 2018)

Though the British chimney sweep cuts a striking figure in our imaginations thanks to children’s publications and classic movies, the reality of today is that most Britons heat their home with gas – thus rendering our stately chimneys redundant, not to mention their spikey looking cleaners.

Though some want to keep their chimneys in pristine condition with regular maintenance in a sort of tribute to the days of yore, doing so can sometimes prove a unnecessary pain in the wallet.

Over time, chimneys age and start to cause problems within a property such as damp ingress or taking up much-needed room.

So, it’s no surprise that many homeowners – or those purchasing buy-to-let properties – are curious as to how they can reclaim the space that their chimney takes up. And most importantly: how much will it cost?

Chimney Terminology

To narrow down the problems which can occur within a chimney, it’s worth knowing the different terms used to describe it.

In your home, the chimney breast is the visible, jutting part of the chimney which spans all the floors. Fires would have been stacked in the hearth, and flues would have carried the smoke up the chimney through a tube shaped like a square.

On the exterior of a house, the chimney stacks are visible. They start from your loft and protrude from the roof. This is where – if someone who lives nearby to you still heats their home using a coal or wood fire – you’ll see smoke exiting their property.

Why remove your chimney?

Though you may feel as though removing your chimney entirely would solve any problems you’re currently experiencing, it should be noted that such a job would be highly disruptive, not to mention expensive.

It’s important to remember that where your chimney is located will impact how much work can be undertaken to reduce its appearance or effect on your property. For example, it’s not possible to take out a bedroom chimney breast in a detached house, as doing so will leave the stack on the outside without support and at risk of collapse.

Conversely, undertaking the same work in a semi-detached house is viable because the party wall will comprise brickwork which is strong and self-supporting.

In most cases, removing the chimney breast on your ground will not cause too much integral variance or increase risk of collapse.

Chimney Removal Cost

The cost of chimney removal will depend entirely on the extent of the work to be completed. Although this type of job is undoubtedly labour-intensive, your budget will have to cover not only the work, but also the materials necessary to reconstruct and redecorate the room the chimney has been removed from.

You may require joists and scaffolding, and it’s also wise to consider the disturbance this type of work will cause within the home. It may not be feasible to remain on the premises for a few days whilst work is being completed.

For the average cost of different types of chimney removal, see the table below:

Work Description Cost
First floor chimney breast removal in an average semi-detached house This job includes:

Fitting gallows brackets in the loft

Adding a concrete hearth to level the floor

Installing new skirting boards

Re-plastering the room in question

£1,500 for a professional job
Ground floor chimney breast removal in an average semi-detached house This job includes all the above, plus:

Retaining the first-floor (usually bedroom) chimney breast

£1,775 for a professional job
Entire chimney breast removal, leaving only the stack This job includes:

Fitting gallows brackets in the loft

Adding a concrete hearth to level the floor

Installing new skirting boards

Significant re-plastering throughout the entire property

£2,050 (factor in an additional £250 if there is a lot of re-plastering and decorating work to be done)
Chimney stack removal This job includes:

Removing the external stacks themselves

Capping and sealing the remaining cavity

Between £1,000 and £1,600 across most parts of the UK

Chimney Removal Cost FAQ

Why would someone want to remove their chimney?

If a chimney breast is taking up much-needed floorspace in a bedroom, for example, removing part of it to increase the liveable space within the room can be of great benefit to the homeowner.

As chimneys age, they sometimes start to collapse, or allow damp or rain to penetrate the walls of your property. If this is the case, it can be a sensible decision to either cap the chimney or remove sections (or all) of it.

What are the disadvantages of removing a chimney?

If you go ahead and remove significant chunks of your chimney when it isn’t necessary to do so, the remaining structures could be at risk of collapse.

If your chimney features a particularly unique design, your home may lose value should you choose to get rid of it. Take into account when your home was built and whether removing the chimney would make your property look out of place.

Are there alternatives to removing a chimney?

Instead of removing the entire chimney, you may find that the problems you’re experiencing can be fixed using a variety of different methods.
If…

The chimney stacks are badly dilapidated
Consider:
Removing only the chimney stacks to reduce disruption throughout the property.

You want to create more space in a single room
Consider: Removing the chimney breast only from one room.

Condensation in your home and inside the chimney caused by rainwater
Consider: Capping the chimney would be a good use of your money.

If you choose to take out the chimney stacks as a standalone job, the process will be less disruptive than if you were to remove the entire chimney. However, it will still require a substantial level of involvement, and if you’re considering doing it yourself, make sure you can facilitate the following:

  • Erection of scaffolds around your chimney stack
  • Removing the cowls, cement flaunching, and pots
  • Taking removing bricks one at a time before lowering them to the deck
  • Installing a brand new layer of timbers, roofing felt, and tiles
  • Disposing of waste properly and selling off the materials that have value

It’s advised to leave this sort of job to the professionals as it requires several specialist skills to complete and any complications arising due to inexperience could result in structural damage or increase the risk of collapse.

What are the main benefits of removing a chimney?

There will be increased space in your property, especially if a particularly large chimney breast takes up a lot of room within the property.

Similarly, having removal work done to a section of your chimney, or an equivalent process, could help in reducing the likelihood of reoccurring chimney problems in the future.

The most common chimney problems are:

Obstruction
Even if your chimney is out of use, there is the possibility that things could have fallen into it, or that over time, it has deteriorated and collapsed in on itself.

Creosote
If your chimney is still (or has been) exposed to a wood-burning fire, a risk of creosote build-up will occur. When wood is burned, smoke goes up the chimney. Creosote is deposited in the flue lining – it’s a mixture of black or brown tar, and soot. Creosote is highly flammable, and any hazardous build-ups should be addressed immediately.

Brickwork Problems
If your chimney has started to lean, crumble, or collapse, it’s likely the brickwork it’s built from has deteriorated over time. Though repairs can be cheaper than full chimney removal, they will only have to be carried out again and again… if you don’t use your chimney at all, this type of maintenance really isn’t worth the hassle.

Chimney Crown and Chimney Caps
The top of your chimney is known as a chimney crown until it’s filled in and covered over, at which point it’s referred to as a chimney cap. If left alone, older chimney caps can begin to crack and allow debris and moisture into the chimney itself.

Cracks in the Flue
Even if your chimney has been out of use for years, cracks in the flue can cause problems in the rest of your house, especially if the chimney itself is poorly protected against moisture or debris.

Will I need planning permission to remove my chimney?
If you want to fit, alter or completely replace a chimney, soil/vent pipe, or an outside flue, chimney, or soil and vent pipe is considered by the government to be a Permitted Development, meaning it won’t require planning permission. However, this is only applicable if the following criteria are met:

  • The flue on the back or the side of your home extends no more than 100 centimetres taller than the highest part of the roof
  • The local authority is in agreement with the proposed work (if you live in a listed building or your home is located in a conservation area)

However, any major structural changes made to a home must be cleared by the local planning organisation and should be reviewed by an experienced structural engineer.

It will cost you money to contact your local council and their planning and building control officers to give your chimney removal the goahead, but it’s a necessary expense. Not only will it make you and your family safer, but it will also stop later problems for occuring upon inspection by surveyors when it comes to sell your property.

Additionally, if you live in a semi-detached property where yourself and your neighbour have a chimney in common, or they back onto each other, it will be necessary to take a party wall agreement into account.

Should the contractor who removes my chimney be a member of anything (trade body, government registration scheme, etc?) What sort of questions should I be asking them?

A project of this size requires a number of specialised skills and you’ll want to feel reassured that any and all complications will be rectified, especially if you’re handing the whole job over to a project manager.

Though general builders are not required to have any qualifications, you may wish to check if your contractors are registered with the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

However, beware of contractors who are looking to secure a quick job without any preliminary preparative measures in place. Your builders should be able to answer any questions you may have and provide you with evidence surrounding their management of the project.

If you’re unsure of what to ask, see below for several examples that will help you see the bigger picture a little more easily:

  • What do you do to get rid of the soot, dirt, and bricks from the property?
  • What do you do to make sure my house is kept clean?
  • Will you contact the necessary officials for me before, during, and after the job?
  • Will much of my house need re-plastering?
  • How are you planning to finish the hearth?

If a builder tries to talk you out of getting in touch with the council, walk away. This could cause major issues going forward for you and may be an indicator that they have not taken out public liability insurance for work like this.

How long does it take to remove a chimney?

Depending on the job at hand, and how many workers are doing it, the time it will take to remove your chimney will differ. Here are some common timescales, though you should allow for variances.

Work Description Timescale
First floor chimney breast removal in an standard semi This job includes:

Fitting to your loft gallows brackets

Adding a concrete hearth to level the floor

Installing new skirting boards

Re-plastering the room in question

This is a two-person role that could last three days, not including redecorating or finishing the room.
Ground floor chimney breast removal in an average semi-detached house This job includes all the above, plus:

Retaining the first-floor (usually bedroom) chimney breast

This is similar in terms of timescale to the previous example, but the retention of the upper chimney breast means that further structure support must be installed.
Total removal of your chimney breast removal with only the stack left This job includes:

Fitting gallows brackets in the loft

Adding a concrete hearth to level the floor

Installing new skirting boards

Significant re-plastering throughout the entire property

This job is likely to take around 5 days, and you’ll need to add time on for extensive redecorating and plastering, too.
Chimney stack removal This job includes:

Removing the external stacks themselves

Capping and sealing the remaining cavity

Two roofers should be able to remove the stack in half a day if the chimney itself is of regular size. For a larger chimney, this job may take up to a day and a half.

Why should I get chimney removal quotes from Tradesmen Prices?

Though you may be tempted to undertake chimney removal yourself in an effort to save cash, the price of chimney removal is a worthy investment if you consider the workload that this job brings with it.

Hiring a professional scaffolder will ensure the safety of yourself and also your contractors, and having the job completed by experienced builders takes any complications that may occur out of your hands.

However, finding someone to complete the work for you can be difficult, especially if you’re being quoted a range of prices. Using the Tradesmen Prices form below you can access 3-4 competitive quotes from local builders who will be able to give you a decent estimate for the cost of removing your chimney.

We only put you in touch with genuine tradespeople whose credentials and history we’ve thoroughly checked, so you don’t need to worry about ‘cowboy builders’ trying to cash in on your crumbling chimney.

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