Nowadays with modern central heating, chimney breasts originally installed in the late 1800s are no longer needed and therefore provide a good opportunity for homeowners to increase their living space. However, the chimney breast still makes up part of the structural integrity of your property and therefore its removal should be done with careful steps.
So if you’re looking to remove your chimney breasts, we’ve broken this guide down into key blocks to assist you through the process:
1- Regulations & Permission:
Do you need planning permission?
Provided your property is not in a listed or conservation area it is unlikely you will need planning permission. Chimney stacks on a party wall, that are external and part of the street character can be subject to planning approval.
You will not be required to submit a planning application if you are removing internal chimney breasts as well as chimney stacks that are not on a party wall. However, the guidelines vary from one borough to another; therefore it is essential that you get in touch with your local planning authority to check beforehand.
Do you need building regulation compliance?
Yes, you will require building control approval to ensure the following parts related to the project are adequate:
- Structural strength
- Fire safety
- Sound insulation
- Maintenance of neighbours chimney
- Damp prevention
- Ventilation to rooms
Do you need a Party Wall Act?
If you are removing a chimney breast which is part of the party wall between two properties, the Party Wall Act 1996 places specific requirements to be met and you must obtain a written consent from the owners of the adjoining property prior to starting the works.
2 – What’s the process?
You should approach a structural engineer to establish suitable methods of removal and a surveyor to assist you with the Party Wall Act if the chimney breast is on a party wall.
The proposal from the structural engineer needs to be submitted to your local building control office. Once the design package is approved the local building control officer will also inspect the works to check they are carried out in accordingly. Upon satisfactorily completion of the removal, the local building control office will then issue you a completion certificate that should be kept with the deeds/land registry documents of the property.
3 – What are the typical structural supports?
Steel beam (RSJ)
A structural engineer will run the loadings and calculate the required beam steel beam size that will be placed beneath protruded chimney above, and sit on the adjoining structural walls.
Steel beam and posts
In the scenario that the adjoining walls either side of the beam are either not structural or cannot take the additional load, steel post can be specified to transfer the load safely.
Depending on your local council there are some instances whereby if the chimney breast does not protrude out of the wall by a third of the wall thickness, gallow brackets maybe installed. However, if your neighbour’s flues are in line with your own or where lime mortar has been used gallow brackets are not acceptable.
The solution can save significant costs and require minimal works, however the application depends on your local council and the regulations they have set, therefore it is imperative to check this before moving forward with gallow brackets.
In any of the above instances, full calculations and drawings will need to be submitted to your local council and building control to ensure the design and specifications are compliant with the regulations set.
5 – Our process
- The first step will be to arrange a site visit and consultation from one of our structural engineers to inspect the existing structure and chimney breast.
- Following the site visit, we will put together a design package including all the calculations for the specified beam and a drafting package with a schematic illustration.
- This set of structural documents can then be submitted to your local building control office and used to obtain quotes from your prospective contractors.
If you have any questions or a project coming up that you would like our advice on, feel free to get in touch with our team and we will be delighted to guide you further.
Below is a list of useful resources: