A firepit or fireplace elevates almost any outdoor space. What better way to enjoy cooler summer evenings or, better yet, extend patio season into winter? Plus, there are options to fit almost any style and space – from contemporary concrete built-ins for spacious yards to lightweight metal chimineas for smaller patios.
Municipal rules and regulations
There are a lot of rules around open-air burning, so be sure to check with your municipality before committing to a firepit or fireplace. Some municipalities, for example, ban open-air burning, which means wood-burning firepits and fireplaces are a no-go. (propane or natural gas-fuelled firepits are often allowed, though, so you may still have options.) If open-air burning is allowed, be sure to check if you need a permit and whether your municipality or region sets out any safety requirements.
Even if your local government doesn’t have specific safety rules, follow these guidelines to enjoy your fire safely. Check your local bylaws, but generally a firepit or fireplace should be at least three metres away from any structures (like a shed), fences, trees, hedges or anything else that may easily catch fire. There should be an overhead clearance of at least two metres.
Never leave a fire unattended and keep a fire extinguisher or hose handy. Make sure you put the fire out properly when you’re done with it. Start by pouring water over the fire, then alternate stirring with a stick and dousing the ashes with more water until they’re cold to the touch and there’s no hissing sound or smoke.
Home insurance implications
You’re doing more than risking a fine if you start roasting marshmallows over an illegal firepit or outdoor fireplace – you may also be jeopardizing your home insurance. If there’s an accident or injury on your property and your new patio upgrade breaks local bylaws, your insurance provider can claim that you were being negligent. That’s also why it’s important to review your liability insurance. And remember, even compliant outdoor accessories can impact your insurance. If you’re splurging on a fancy built-in fireplace, it could add to the value of your home, something your insurance company needs to know about.
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