Want to remove a chimney?
Here are the building regulations you should know about.
5 simple truths about chimney breast removal building regulations
Building around a bulky, outdated chimney breast and chimney stack opens up much needed inside space, but requires special steps to retain the structural integrity of your home such as chimney stack removal, chimney cowls, or full chimney removal.
A chimney breast removal in your home involves necessary council approvals, there are building regulations guiding this. Here are the building regulations and five simple truths you should know about your chimney breast removal. The five simple truths about chimney breast removal include heeding building regulations, minding your neighbours with shared Party Wall laws, making sure you have proper ventilation, sound, fire and water protection.
Proper planning and following requirements
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and make sure all of the necessary regulations and requirements are filled before you begin any work on a chimney breast removal. The first thing to understand is the difference between planning permissions and building regulations.
Planning permissions are sought when you are wanting to change the outside of your home or add on to change the outer appearance. While a lot of inside work falls under planning rights with no need to seek planning permissions, it’s always best to make sure beforehand.
Building regulations are simply the minimum standards acceptable and legal for any design or construction with the purpose of protecting the health and safety of the people living inside.
Building regulations cover aspects of the construction project such as its structural strength, electrical safety, heating appliance safety, fire hazards, plumbing, ventilation, and sewage or drainage concerns.
Since removing a chimney breast involves several of these aspects, you will first need to make sure your building plans adhere to all of your local regulations.
You are responsible
As a homeowner, you are the responsible party to make sure all building regulations are upheld, even though the work will most likely be done by a contractor.
So, when you are looking for a qualified worker, consider hiring someone who is part of the Competent Person Scheme, since they will be able to self certify their work. To find such a contractor, check out the Competent Persons Register online.
The main benefit to hiring someone from the Competent Person Scheme is that there is no building control fees involved since the work is both carried out and signed off for approval by the same person. Otherwise, you can gain building approvals through your Local Authority Building Control LABC or through private building control bodies.
However you decide to obtain building approval, just be certain to look into what is involved for your individual project weeks ahead of time, since it can sometimes take up to 8 weeks to gain approval once the application is submitted. Once the work is done, you will need to obtain a Completion Certificate.
Failure to plan can cost you
Don’t skimp on this step of obtaining proper building approval and following all local regulations. Failure to do so can get you in serious trouble with the law, and may result in court appearances and fines up to £5000.
Keep it strong
One of the most important aspects of a chimney breast removal project is making sure the structure of the home is still intact after the chimney breast has been taken out.
Typically, a house with one to two levels that shares an external or Party wall that is the thickness of one brick, or approximately 225 mm, probably has a front and a back wall less than 9 metres apart.
The front and back walls generally serve an additional purpose besides being part of the four walls that form the frame of your home.
The front and back walls are also designed to resist wind while supporting lateral loads from flanks or Party walls.
Because of the relatively short span, you can usually remove a chimney breast from the party wall or flank without weakening the wall strength.
For larger buildings, however, it’s important that you consult with a structural engineer before beginning work to determine whether or not you will need to add a buttress wall or other strengthening means of ensuring the structure’s integrity once the chimney breast is gone.
Once it has been removed, you will probably need to have the floor joist hearth trimmers also removed to add new floor joists across the entire length to support the load of the ceilings and floors.
If you want or need to keep part of the outside chimney above the roof line, because of planning permission requirements or for architectural aesthetics, this will also need to be supported.
Three of the most common ways to achieve proper structural support are using a beam or chimney brackets. Typically, inserting a structural steel beam, inserting a steel beam with an additional post, or using gallow brackets chimney support shores up the structure.
Damp proofing and fire protection
Keep it dry
Any time you remove something from the roof area, you leave the potential of leaks. If water gets in from rain or condensation, it could create a nasty mildew and mould problem which can lead to decay of your home’s structure and even health issues.
Make sure rain and condensation does not become a problem by making sure you take proper steps to have any openings left behind damp proofed. Also make sure no moisture is coming down the flue by installing a ventilated cap to the top of the chimney pots along with air bricks on the lower levels.
It is usually required that a minimum of one-hour fire resistance is used to protect your home from potential fire, especially if there is a neighbouring wall involved.
Sound proofing and minding the neighbours
Mind the neighbours
Part of making sure you uphold the Party Wall requirements is making sure no carbon dioxide or monoxide poisoning happens due to the gap between the flues being damaged.
If your chimney breast removal is located on the wall of an adjoining home or apartment, you will need to comply to a Party Wall Agreement since your changes are going to affect your neighbour.
Keep the peace
When there is a recess left after the chimney breast has been taken out, it will need to be filled in with brickwork to make sure the wall is the same thickness and density as the other walls, and all of the joints will need to be packed with mortar. This is often done for sound insulation.
Clear the air with proper ventilation
Building Regulation Part F2 requires all rooms have permanent ventilation of no less than 8,000 mm2, which a chimney is able to provide.