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Alternatives to masonry fireplaces

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Nothing beats the ambience of a wood burning fireplace – cozy heat, beauty, and that familiar, inviting crackle. However, traditional wood burning fireplaces require specialized masonry construction, a fair amount of space, and often additional structural support due to the heavy weight of materials used. For new construction or remodels, homeowners can consider the alternative of zero-clearance fireplaces, which are available in wood burning, gas, or even pellet burning versions.

Zero-clearance fireplaces that burn fuel (as opposed to electric models) require special ventilation systems for safe and efficient operation. However, these fireplaces can be installed almost anywhere in the home. Unlike traditional masonry fireplaces, zero-clearance fireplaces can be located very close to existing walls. The exteriors of these units do not get hot enough to ignite nearby combustible materials like walls or floors, so a brick or masonry hearth or firebox isn’t needed. This flexibility of placement means a master bedroom, den, or even a kitchen can take on a newly inviting atmosphere with the addition of a fireplace. Available in many different sizes and styles, zero-clearance fireplaces can be customized after installation with mantels, surrounds, and doors to suit any room’s décor. In addition, many models are quite energy efficient compared with traditional wood burning fireplaces and are appropriate for heating a room.

Another alternative to masonry fireplaces is a prefabricated type. Prefabricated wood fireplaces are wood burning units that look like traditional fireplaces, but don’t require the structural support that masonry does. The firebox is typically metal and lined with firebrick, and the venting system is metal as well. As a result, these fireplaces are considerably less expensive to install than a masonry unit, and are more efficient. Typically, these types of fireplaces are not used for heating but to provide the experience of a masonry unit without the expense. Like zero-clearance fireplaces, prefab units can be given a unique look with mantels, surrounds, doors and hearths in almost any material imaginable.

As winter fast approaches, these masonry alternatives may be the perfect fit for homeowners seeking the look, warmth and feel of a traditional fireplace without the inherent expense and limitations. Stay warm and cozy this winter!

Questions? Comments? Looking to buy a house in Miami or Sarasota, Florida? Contact Kijner & Sons International Realty at info@kijner.com

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Source22nd Edition of CRS Chapter Newsletter (October 12th, 2012) - CRS-Pillar To Post Partnership - Article courtesy of Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection


What a Home Inspection Should Cover

by Kijner & Sons International Realty


Home inspections will vary depending on the type of property you are purchasing. A large historic home, for example, will require a more specialized inspection than a small condominium. However, the following are the basic elements that a home inspector will check. You can also use this list to help you evaluate properties in Sarasota or Miami Florida you might purchase.

For more information, try the virtual home inspection at www.ASHI.org, the Web site of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Structure: A home’s skeleton impacts how the property stands up to weather, gravity, and the earth. Structural components, including the foundation and the framing, should be inspected. 

Exterior: The inspector should look at sidewalks, driveways, steps, windows, and doors. A home’s siding, trim, and surface drainage also are part of an exterior inspection.

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Roofing: A well-maintained roof protects you from rain, snow, and other forces of nature. Take note of the roof’s age, conditions of flashing, roof draining systems (pooling water), buckled shingles, loose gutters and downspouts, skylight, and chimneys.

Plumbing: Thoroughly examine the water supply and drainage systems, water heating equipment, and fuel storage systems. Drainage pumps and sump pumps also fall under this category. Poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots, or corrosion can indicate problems.

Electrical: Safe electrical wiring is essential. Look for the condition of service entrance wires, service panels, breakers and fuses, and disconnects. Also take note of the number of outlets in each room. 

Heating: The home’s heating system, vent system, flues, and chimneys should be inspected. Look for age of water heater, whether the size is adequate for the house, speed of recovery, and energy rating.

Air Conditioning: Your inspector should describe your home cooling system, its energy source, and inspect the central and through-wall cooling equipment. Consider the age and energy rating of the system.

Interiors: An inspection of the inside of the home can reveal plumbing leaks, insect damage, rot, construction defects, and other issues. An inspector should take a close look at:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

Ventilation/insulation: To prevent energy loss, check for adequate insulation and ventilation in the attic and in unfinished areas such as crawlspaces. Also look for proper, secured insulation in walls. Insulation should be appropriate for the climate. Excess moisture in the home can lead to mold and water damage.  

Fireplaces: They’re charming, but they could be dangerous if not properly installed. Inspectors should examine the system, including the vent and flue, and describe solid fuel burning appliances.

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Sources: The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) & the American Society of Home Inspectors (www.ashi.org)

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83-85 Boulevard de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France


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