One of these main feature areas in most custom homes is the fireplace that is located in your great room or main living space. There are certain things that you should remember when planning for this;
• Design the fireplace surround around the fireplace you purchased. Never try to make a fireplace work around an existing design.
• Always do an onsite visit with your general contractor when the fireplace is installed before they start installing stone or they begin finishing the framing around it. Fireplaces always look different to people when they are installed, a showroom or internet picture never really gives you that true sense of what it will look like in your new home.
• Remember to listen to your general contractor and the mason or carpenter that is going to be doing the finish work around your fireplace. If they think that there will be a problem with your design then you should find a way around the problem immediately. This will save you time and money in the long run.
• Look at other people’s fireplaces, look on the internet and look in home magazines. If you have an interior designer then have them mock up some drawings for you. This will save everyone time when you have your onsite meeting and will give you a better idea of what the end product will look like. Having a drawing allows your contractor to order the appropriate material required speeding up the project and with a drawing everyone understands what is being built.
• Most fireplaces have mantles these days. If you are going to want a mantle then your contractor will tell you the minimum height above the fireplace that it can be placed. Every fireplace has different restrictions; there are different restrictions depending on the size and type of fireplace. Don’t be surprised if the distance that you want the mantle installed is unacceptable and has to be raised.
• The hearth on a fireplace has restrictions that are placed on it by the building code. These can change depending on where you live. Your contractor should be able to tell you what your minimum requirements are. There will be a minimum for the height off the floor and the distance the hearth comes out. If you want a one piece stone hearth then you will be limited by the size of stone that is available and the limitations of moving it into the house. If the stone you want weighs say 1 ton and you already have the roof on your house the likely hood of getting it in there is slim. If you choose your hearth before the roof is framed then you can have a crane set the hearth in place no matter what the size might be. Certain fireplaces like gas fireplaces do not require hearths.
• If you don’t want a hearth then you will still require a non combustible material installed in front of the fireplace for wood burning fireplaces. There are a number of things that qualify as a non combustible such as concrete, stone or tile.
• If you want a more modern look you can forgo the mantle and drywall the entire fireplace box. You can then have the drywaller do the detail work such as texturing, corbels and designer patterns. It is a very modern look.
• You should try and stay away from mounting a television above your fireplace. Even though it might be trendy there are a lot of reasons that it shouldn’t be placed there. TV warranties are voided if placed over a fireplace; damage can be caused to the TV if the fireplace is left on for prolonged periods of time. To mount the TV high enough over most fireplaces forces people sitting in the room to be looking up at the TV instead of straight ahead which is the normal angle for viewing television.
• Whatever stone work is done to the outside of the home should be continued on the inside. If you have used natural stone on the outside of the building then that’s what should be installed on the fireplace, if you used manufactured outside then the same rule applies.
• Design the fireplace to be proportionate to the room and viewing area, if you are in a large room then you can design a large fireplace. If you are in a tighter space then try and minimize the size of the fireplace so that it doesn’t over power the room.
• If you are planning for a wood burning fireplace then you should incorporate a place to pile the firewood and kindling.
These are just some of the more prevalent things that you should be considering when designing the fireplace in your new custom home. You should remember that the fireplace in your home is going to be where everyone gathers, visitors will see the fireplace before anything else so make sure it makes a statement.
Village Builders Inc.