I'm looking for some opinions and help.
I recently purchased a apartment in downtown Vancouver Canada a few blocks from English bay, in one of the nicer locations in Vancouver. The unit is small 660 sq feet. It was build in 1977 and still had the original wood burning fireplace. I was going to remove it and put in a wall mounted long rectangle electric fireplace that was about 70in long with a flat screen tv above it. But everyone I've been telling this about has told me to keep the wood burning and just reface it cause they like it and think its neat or cool. To have a wood burning fireplace is rare in an apartment, at least in Vancouver. I don't even know where downtown you can even get firewood. I figure the cost of a electric fireplace or replacing the facing would be about the same so cost isn't really an issue.
So should i keep it or replace it?
@Beau Walsh great question and great points you make. My two cents is that you really need to consider what you've got and what you'll get. If you are grandfathered in or as you stated, don't know of other apartments with wood burning fireplaces, then I would leave it. You have the rustic charm and something that is rare to the buyer/renter you will want to move the property to.
Now that being said............ There is another side to this statement. Maintenance right? So take that into account if you plan on holding the property as a rental and considering it is not a single family home.
All in all if it was me, I would keep it, refinish as much as possible to keep the vintage charm but make it look new, clean and quite honestly..... a focal point in the unit. After all........ they don't make 'em like they used to.
I would keep the wood burning fireplace! We have an 8-plex with wood burning fireplaces and it is a charm that attracts tenants. Some use it for a cozy fire ambience (manufactured logs or wood is easily obtained at the local market), some use it with a display of candles, some don't use it at all but still like the look. Ours have a mantle and we have hooks underneath for those who wish to hang Christmas stockings.
Our tenants don't use the fireplace as a heat source, because all of the apartments have forced air natural gas heating. So, there is no need for a chord of wood. We give new tenants a booklet about use and care of the fireplace. We also demonstrate how to use it properly. Each has a fireplace grate and fireplace screen, which we provide. We also have an ash bucket with a small shovel available for tenant use. We provide for periodic chimney inspection and cleaning. Do make sure the fireplace box and chimney are structurally sound and get a chimney cap if it doesn't have one already.
We are in the other Vancouver. :-) The Pacific Northwest and fireplaces are a natural fit. Many new places don't have them anymore. Be unique!
IMO. I would never keep a wood fireplace in a rental. It creates a hazard and liability. Insurance may also go up and in some cases I have heard of insurance canceling on landlords once they realized there was a working fire place.
You can keep the look and disable it too by blocking it off. Just my opinion on the subject.
At least you will pay more in insurance.
In English Bay I think you'd have reasonably responsible tenants and that the charm of it would outweigh the drawbacks. I'm not totally familiar with the area, but it seems that those who want chic and modern would gravitate toward the Coal Harbour side and that those who want to live in English Bay would be looking more for rustic and traditional. So whatever you can do to enhance the rustic and traditional feeling of the place would be to your benefit.
That said, you might check with your insurer about rates. I wouldn't think insurance companies would have much luck excluding fireplaces on policies in BC, but one never can tell.
wood burning fireplace = pain in the ***.
i just did a house with one in it and it was the LAST item that kept me from getting a certificate of Occupancy. i needed an inspection. the inspector found cracked bricks, $1000 to replace the bricks. I had to buy bricks, mortar, my guy did it, the company came back, another check to get it incpected. then give the receipt to the city. pain in the ***.
i was so fed up, thought about bricking it shut briefly. too bad it was already rented a day/two prior.
take the crap out and put electric. so much better.
Thanks for the responses, I'm still shocked with your answers.
I should of mentioned that I'm rehabbing this to live in for a few months (tax reasons) and then flip it. I'm doing a full Reno on this I'm taking out the wall in the kitchen to make it a big sit up island and extending the kitchen on the back wall. The cabinets are going to be white high gloss with a dark on the bottom, all new stainless appliances, so this place is going to look very new and modern. And the whole place would be one open room so you would see the fireplace when you walk in the front door. I'm also redoing the bathroom and floors. I purchased the place for $300k and am putting $30k in it and a place just sold in four days a block away 8 years newer and 40 sq feet bigger for $458k.
With this being said would that change your views on charm when I'm making things modern?
Personally, I would keep a wood fireplace if it were my home or I was going to sell it. My only problem is with a tenant occupied house.
If you are getting a owner occupied loan be careful that you stay long enough to legally qualify as OO.
Those electric fireplaces with media hookups are tacky monstrosities, so far as I am concerned. If I didn't want to leave a wood-burning fireplace there (and I probably would leave it) then I would have a gas insert put in.
natural fireplaces waste the heat from the house, not put heat back in the house. electric/gas fireplaces dump heat BACK in the room. maybe educating the new occupants will change their minds when they dont have to haul wood and clean ashes after using it.
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