How To Build A Fireplace

Last Updated February 23, 2021 By Bella Zinti

Nothing beats curling up on the couch and enjoying the warmth of your fireplace on a cold night. Besides adding style and warmth to your home, a fireplace can also increase your home’s value. 

If your house didn’t come with a fireplace, you can still enjoy the charm and comfort of the fireside by building one of your own. With thorough planning and the help of some skilled professionals, you can easily add a fireplace to your home. 

In this guide, we’ll answer commonly-asked questions and break down how to plan and build a fireplace. Unless you’re experienced in home repairs, you’ll likely need professional help installing your hearth. To help you budget, we’ll also highlight the costs of different types of fireplaces.

Commonly-Asked Questions About How to Build a Fireplace brick by brick

Can you put a fireplace in a house that doesn’t have one?

Yes! By installing a ventilation system, you can safely build a fireplace to your pre-exisiting home. While it’s possible to install traditional wood-burning options, it’s far simpler and more cost-effective to install a gas-burning fireplace or electric fireplace. 

Is it hard to add a fireplace to a house?

Modern fireplaces are far easier to build than traditional wood-burning masonry fireplaces. If you’re worried about the cost or difficulty of adding a real fireplace to your home, consider adding a faux fireplace. They’re safe, affordable, and relatively easy to install. 

Can you install a fireplace yourself? 

It depends on the type of fireplace you’re trying to install and how skilled you are in construction and home repairs. To ensure your fireplace operates safely, it’s recommended to consult an electrician, building inspector, mason, and/or contractor who is experienced in fireplace installation. In some areas, you will need to make sure your fireplace meets building codes.

Planning and Building a Fireplace

Fireplaces typically fall into three categories: wood-burning, gas-burning, and zero-clearance. Before you begin building your fireplace, you’ll need to determine which style is right for your style, budget, and home construction. To help you select the right one for your home, we’ve highlighted a few pros and cons, as well as the cost, of each. 

Zero-Clearance Fireplaces 

Zero-clearance fireplaces have their own insulation, meaning they need “zero clearance” from combustible materials. While some look like traditional masonry fireplaces, more modern styles styles can be inserted into a wall. Compared to most wood-burning and gas options, zero-clearance fireplaces are the easiest and most affordable to install in pre-existing homes. 

While some units vent through lightweight metal tubing, the most energy-efficient models have an external ventilation system that can reduce energy usage by up to 70%. Because these units draws in air from outside your home, they must be placed on an exterior wall. 


Expect to pay between $1,000 to $4,000 for a zero-clearance fireplace unit and another $1,000 to $2,000 for installation. 


Installing a zero-clearance fireplace typically takes only one or two days. 

Gas-Burning Fireplaces 

If you don’t want to deal with the safety risks, messy clean-up, and expensive installation costs of a wood-burning fireplace, a gas-burning fireplace is the perfect alternative. Plus, they are more environmentally-friendly and more energy-efficient. 

For a standard gas-burning unit, you;ll need to install a connection to your gas supply line and create an adequate venting system. You can vent through an existing chimney, installing a new chimney, or connecting a lightweight metal tubing from the unit to the outside of your home. 


Expect to pay between $1,000 to $2,000 for the gas-burning unit itself and another $2,500 to $10,000 for installation.  


Depending on the availability of building inspectors, plumbing the gas lines and installing the insert can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. 

Masonry/ Wood-Burning Fireplaces

A wood-burning masonry is the most impressive, traditional-looking option. Unfortunately, it’s also the most complicated and expensive. Plus, wood-burning fireplaces are a pain to clean and maintain.

It’s far easier to build a masonry fireplace in new construction, as adding one to pre-existing homes involves many structural and safety hurdles. Unless you’re committed to a traditional look, it’s best to choose a gas-burning or electric option. Should you decide to build a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll need to hire skilled masons that can ensure the fire can burn safely with adequate ventilation. 


Expect to pay $6,000 to $16,000 for the materials and installation of the fireplace itself and another $100 to $150 per foot for the chimney. 


Installing a masonry fireplace would take a pair of experienced masons around two to three days (not including time to pour and cure concrete). 

Electric Fireplaces

While electric fireplaces aren’t heated by wood or gas, they give off the warmth and authentic cozy feel of a traditional hearth. Because electric fireplaces use infrared heaters, they’re affordable, easy-to install, and energy-efficient. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about chopping wood or cleaning your chimney ever again! 

While some are freestanding units that mimic a built-in fireplace, others can be mounted on a wall. To ensure safe operation, it’s recommended that you consult a qualified electrician before installing an electric unit. The actual installation requires little more than cutting a wall opening and inserting the fireplace using a mounting bracket. 


Expect to pay between $500 to $6000 for the electric fireplace unit and another $500 to $1000 for installation.


Because they don’t require external ventilation or extensive construction, electric fireplaces can be installed in less than a day. 

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.