Adding a Fireplace to an Existing Home

Roi Fireplace Addition Fireplace Addition Value
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A fireplace is a popular home feature, but if you want to add one, don’t expect a significant return on your investment.

With costs ranging up to $30,000 for a traditional brick hearth and mantel, adding a fireplace can be a considerable investment. If you’re wondering if you’ll get a return on that investment, the answer is: maybe.

Related: The Costs of Adding a Fireplace

While intangibles such as crackling flames and romantic ambiance may make a fireplace worth the cost, consumer attitudes toward fireplaces have been in flux over the past decade. Here are the facts:

Fireplaces are Trending Up as Desirable Features

The National Association of REALTORS® 2013 survey of homebuyers’ preferences listed fireplaces as one of the most-preferred home features. Almost 40% of homebuyers said they would pay extra (a median of $1,400) for a house with at least one fireplace.

That's good news when it comes time to market your house.

Those stats are supported by a 2012 homebuyers survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in which more than half of respondents said a fireplace was an essential or desirable feature, up slightly from a similar 2007 NAHB survey.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49% of new homes built in 2012 included at least one fireplace. That’s down from 57% a decade ago, although the numbers may also reflect builders’ attempts to save costs for development houses.

Match Your Fireplace Budget to Your House

A fireplace isn’t calculated separately in a professional home appraisal, so it's tricky to assign value to your investment in flickering flames.

When you estimate how much a fireplace might add to the value of your house, take into account your home’s overall value. A $10,000 fireplace holds its value in a $1 million house because buyers expect this feature in an upscale home. 

But a $10,000 fireplace won't be such a crucial component of a $100,000 house, especially if other essential features that potential buyers consider more important are lacking.

How to Max Out Value

To maximize your enjoyment -- and value -- put a fireplace where you'll get the most use from it: the family room, great room, or kitchen.

For smaller, easy-to-heat rooms such as an office, guest bedroom, or master bedroom, think about a small gas fireplace that's easy to maintain.

Equip your fireplace with energy-efficient glass doors and an exterior venting system that prevents heated air from being pulled out of rooms.


Rich Binsacca
Rich Binsacca

Rich Binsacca has been writing about home improvement since 1987. He is the author of 12 books on home-related topics, is a contributing editor for Builder and EcoHome magazines, and has written for Remodeling, Home, and Architectural Record.