The fireplace before we ripped it out
The fireplace after we reframed it
The fireplace after the masons added the rock


Our fireplaces are direct vent natural gas units - the kind you do not add any wood to, just flip a switch on the wall and the fireplace lights up. Although real wood-burning fireplaces are nice, a full chimney is quite expensive and as a result they are rarely built in our area these days. The natural gas units also have a fan below them that circulates the air from around the fireplace out into the room, which makes them very good as a heating source. And since the air for combustion is pulled directly from the outside into a sealed box, the fireplace does not cause air to flow in from cracks in the house.

A natural gas fireplace usually only takes a few days to install - the first day the framing is done by the framers, then a day for the HVAC contractor to come and set the unit, punch the vent for intake and exhaust out through the back of the house, and hook up the natural gas line. Last, a day or two is needed to provide the finishing material, such as brick, rock, tile or whatever.

We ran into a communication problem that caused a bit of trouble with our fireplace upstairs. When I had the original house plans drawn up, I forgot to tell the designer to put a hearth on the fireplace - a feature that we really wanted. No problem - we decided we would just tell the framers to build the hearth when the time came.

We told the framer about the change from the plans early in the framing process, but with all the rain and other delays we have experienced, by the time it came to frame the fireplace, the framers had forgotten about the change request and built it according to the plans. Unfortunately, I was out of town when they framed in the fireplace, otherwise I might have caught it.

By the time I saw the fireplace, it was completely framed and the fireplace was set in place. The masons were already working on the house, so I knew that they would be ready to start setting the stone finish on the fireplace soon, and I knew that there was no way I was going to get the framers back to the site to rip out the fireplace and re-build it in time for the mason. There was no way I was going to be able to re-build it myself since I was still in the middle of wiring the house together and was way behind with that project. I more-or-less decided that the way it was built was the way it would have to be, even though I was disappointed with that option.

Then my dad came to the rescue - he volunteered to rip the fireplace out, rip out the framing, and rebuild the fireplace the way we wanted it. How could I say no?!? He jumped right on it, and after a week or so of working on it in the evenings, he had it re-built the way we wanted it. It was a complicated job since the fireplace had to be carefully extracted from the unit, and the framing had to be cut out with a sawzall.

After my dad finished framing it, he and I cut up a piece of rough-sawn cedar that my builder gave us (left-over from another job he has going) and bolted it onto the fireplace as a mantle. It turned out very nice - even better than I had imagined.

The mason had one or two guys put the rock finish on the fireplace which took a couple of days, and the results were spectacular. It will certainly become the heart of the home.

The HVAC crew set a fireplace for us in the basement - although we are not finishing the basement until after we move in, I wanted to set the fireplace now so that I would not have to worry about trying to cut a large hole through the brick to vent the fireplace, and run a gas line. It was one of those things that would cost more money if I delayed doing it.

The fireplace we installed upstairs is from Kingsman and the fireplace we installed downstairs is from Napoleon.

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