Is a Fireplace an Important Investment?

By Ronald van Waas

Just recently, my niece and her husband took possession of their new home. Unfortunately, it was prior to the moving van arriving and was done out of the necessity as acting as security to protect the appliances already installed. Apparently there had been some problems in this new area of the city with theft.

What makes this story unique is the comment she made on the telephone that night; that they had inflated the air mattress in the living room first, then lit the new Heatilator gas fireplace second and then proceeded to spend the next couple of hours enjoying the warmth and ambiance of the fireplace in their first-ever home.

What better way to reinforce the importance of the fireplace to our physical and psychological well-being. They could just as easily have inflated the air mattress in their new bedroom and used a lawn chair or folding stool to sit on in the living room. Yet, as in the earliest days of civilization the fireplace (cooking fire) became central not only to their physical comfort but also to their psychology enjoyment.

This scenario reminded me of the famous quote by Frank Lloyd Wright “that the fireplace is the heart of the home”. Which builder in today’s economy does not offer at least one standard fireplace in the great room of their new homes and which renovator or designer does not add a fireplace as a central feature into the new vision they present to their clients? Who does not envision a fireplace central to the dream home they are designing?

Accordingly AVID: a leading research firm for the housing industry indicates that while 87.2% of new home shoppers want a fireplace; of those 29.6% must have a fireplace while 27.4% really want a fireplace in their homes (Avid, 2011).

Yet, again and again I hear entrepreneurs and homeowners walk through the door with “I’m building a new home or I’m renovating a basement” followed with the statement “What’s your cheapest unit”. Do not get me wrong; I have nothing against looking for a great deal or a product that is reduced or on a clearance special but think about this; will my or my client’s physical and psychological expectations be met with only purchasing a fireplace based on the financial bottom line? Or, stated differently, will my or my client’s dream/vision be achieved with only deciding on what is the cheapest product available?

We all have a budget to maintain when building or renovating a home; which usually also includes a fireplace. The issues in the selection process should involve the physical relationship to the room (is the fireplace too small for the space or too large), the physiological comfort level desired (will the fireplace provide enough heat or too much) and the psychological impact (does the fireplace make us feel good or meet the concept/design) that the final result will have on us.

Another very important issue surrounding the decision process is the value the fireplace adds to the current and future market value. According to EnerChoice Canada among others a fireplace will increase the value of the home and generate 11% greater return on investment than the average return on other popular home renovations (EnerChoice, 2012; Realestatebrothers, 2011). When consumers sell their home more than 100% of the cost can be recouped (Realestatebrothers, 2011). This can be further verified by checking the formula on the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers website. In essence the consumer would also be adding to the home heat savings, the livability of the space and the environmentally friendly aspects of the fireplace by a wise investment (Ehow, 2012).

So, can the cheapest fireplace we carry be the ideal solution – yes it could be. Although, it would probably be more prudent to choose the most high end and energy-efficient fireplace that your budget will accommodate. In the end a fireplace will always give you a top-dollar return on your investment.


Anon (2012) “Adding a fireplace to improve the value of your home” Toronto Real Estate Brothers [Online]. Available from:

Avid (2012) Web Article, Avid Technology Inc [Online]. Available from:

Craig, Randy (2011) “Value of a fireplace to the price of a house” ehow [Online]. Available from:

Government of Canada (2012) “Choosing a fireplace”. EnerChoice [Online]. Available from: