Having a multi fuel stove or woodburner fitted can be daunting. You’ll get lots of people giving differing opinions, both in terms of cost, how the job should be tackled and also the best choice of stove.
As a sweep, I see hundreds upon hundreds of stoves and solid fuel installations each year. Some are good, some not so good. Others are downright awful and dangerous.
So first up, let me tell you this. If you are wanting a full, from scratch installation and don’t have at least £2,000 to spend on it, then STOP. Put your money away, take some time and save up until you’re at least at that figure.
Now, I can hear some of you saying “Hang on David, I’ve seen complete installations advertised for £1,500 and under! You’re talking rubbish.”
Well, far from being a load of hogwash, it makes sound financial sense. Because spending more at the outset will save you money later on.
I realise it may be controversial, but there’s s a few reasons why I mention the £2,000 barrier as a guide…
Good Parts Cost Money
Solid fuel installations take a real battering in terms of heat and acids in the flue. You need a good quality flue system. Sure, you can find cheap stuff on eBay but no self-respecting professional would touch them with a barge pole. Remember, they will have a reputation to uphold so why would they want to fit parts which they know have a high chance of failing quite early on?
It Pays To Get A Quality Stove
This is usually the most obvious cost to you as a customer as it’s the one thing you will see day in, day out. Having swept hundreds of appliances, I can tell you right now that there are only a handful which both look the part and are still very robust many years after they are installed.
For my money, you really should be looking at one of the following makes: Clearview, Dunsley, Woodwarm, Charnwood, Chesney, Morso or Jotul. These are established brands which still do a fantastic job despite years and years of use.There are some newer brands out there which are getting very good reviews, such as Clock Stoves. Many sweeps and installers rave about these, and are well worth looking at. They’re definitely next on my list.
In terms of stoves which really do suffer after a few years, I’d put the likes of Firefox, Dimplex and Tiger in that category. And as for makes such as Clarke or Evergreen, I’d give them a very wide berth based on what I’ve seen. They’re cheaper for a reason. Obviously, all stoves do a job up to a point, but my primary focus here is to give you advice about having a quality install which will last, rather that having to replace it in a few years.
Skilled Labour Costs Money
Everyone seems to know someone down the pub who has fitted their own stove, or has got their builder/plumber mate to do it. I’ve seen the end result and they range from dreadful to lethal.
Fitting a solid fuel appliance should always be left to a solid fuel professional. They should always be a registered solid fuel installer and be able to self-certify their own work under Building Regulations. This means they will be a member of a solid fuel competent persons’ scheme. The best known are HETAS or OFTEC.
Being a member of these schemes costs money, in terms of training, registrations and insurances. If someone can’t be bothered to become a registered solid fuel professional, then in my opinion they really shouldn’t be taking your money for a solid fuel installation.
If they are, then how can you be certain they have done it properly, even if they do seem nice, are a friend or even ‘a reputable company?’
Safety Costs Money
When fitting a flue liner, the installer has to go up to the top of the chimney. Sometimes, this means scaffolding will be needed. Costs for this alone can be in excess of £400, depending on the height/ease of access to the chimney terminal.
Working at any height can represent a danger, but scaffolding is generally a safer way of working. You may get a quote for a solid fuel installation which includes scaffolding, and one from another installer which doesn’t. Sometimes, it can be purely down to the installer’s own personal preferences/tolerance thresholds. Sometimes it’s simply a case of you must have scaffolding because there’s no way the job can be done without it.
So, as you can see, with all these parts of the process now explained, it’s easy to imagine why a good quality solid fuel installation can easily cost £2,000 and more.
There are, of course, times when an installation may fall under the magic £2k mark, if for instance you’re swapping stoves or already have a prepared fireplace opening. But generally speaking, most customers who are starting from scratch need to budget beyond £2,000. Some installs will be double or triple that amount as there’s so many variables. Every installation is different.
It’s worth pointing out though that absolutely any installation can fail early on through incorrect use or lack of sweeping/general maintenance.
My advice is always speak to your local, registered chimney sweep at the outset. As I say, sweeps see installations day in and day out. We know what they look like after years of use. We’re always the ones who have to visit each year to sweep the flue and service the appliance.
Any solid fuel professional worth their salt should be able to guide you through this process. For information on my Top 5 Tips, visit https://mr-soot.com/2018/05/05/my-5-step-guide-to-choosing-a-woodburner-or-multi-fuel-stove/
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service in Wigan, Stockport, St Helens, Ormskirk, Chorley and surrounding areas. Book Mr Soot online or call 07724 311 992.