Did you know that adding a fireplace is a great investment in a home's resale value?

Adding a fireplace when you're building or remodeling undoubtedly increases the enjoyment of your home, but did you know that adding a fireplace is also a great investment in a home's resale value?

Because of their warmth - both literal and figurative - fireplaces are one of the features that potential homebuyers inevitably gravitate toward. "When I get a new listing of a home that has a fireplace, it's imperative I work that fact into all of my marketing materials about the property," said Brad Palecek, a realtor with Edina Realty in St. Paul, Minn.

By bringing the idea of "hearth and home" to life, a fireplace increases a home's livability - an important quality these days, with more people opting to spend quiet time at home with family and friends. In fact, many of today's homebuyers consider a fireplace a "must-have" feature. A National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) survey found that 77% of homebuyers want a fireplace in the family room, where they'll spend most of their time. And fifty percent of homebuyers would like a fireplace in the living room, where they do much of their entertaining.

Return on investment
With the high demand for fireplaces, adding one to your home clearly means a great investment. Remodeling magazine's 2003 "Cost vs. Value Report" points out when selling a home, it's easier to recover the cost of lower-priced projects like fireplace additions than the cost of major renovations like new kitchens.

According to MSN's "House & Home Advisor," adding a fireplace is one of the top three remodeling jobs in terms of return on investment (the other two are adding a bathroom and minor kitchen remodeling).

Studies show that homeowners can often recoup more than 100% of the cost of adding a fireplace when they sell the home. In fact, according to the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers, homeowners without fireplaces can potentially raise the selling prices of their homes by about 6-12% simply by adding a fireplace.

A fireplace also adds less-tangible value by helping buyers see your home in a better light. "If I'm the listing agent on a property that's showing in the fall, winter or early spring, I'll always light a fire in the fireplace for open houses - particularly if the fireplace is a woodburner," said Palecek. "People are drawn to a fire; it makes them feel good about being in a room."

Options Abound
Many homeowners opt for more than one fireplace (Brad Palecek's own house has three), often mixing and matching the types of fireplaces depending on how each room is used. And when you're building a home, the choice is yours. As you work with your contractor on fireplace selection, remember that it's a good strategy to invest in the best. Choosing the most high-end fireplace that your budget will accommodate will give you top-dollar return on investment if you sell your home later.

Tom and Cari Reichenbach decided to give themselves the best of two worlds in the home they built earlier this year. Their home features a stunning flagstone woodburning fireplace as the focal point of their great room upstairs and a gas fireplace in the corner of their lower-level family room.

"We wanted that organic feel of a wood fire upstairs with a nice big hearth we can sit on," said Cari. "And it's not just a special-occasion fireplace - I'll often light a fire in the middle of a weekday afternoon."

Downstairs, a gas fireplace was the right choice for the family. "We wanted the convenience of having a fire at the touch of a button in the TV room," Cari explained. "Turning on the fireplace warms up the room right away, both in terms of temperature and the coziness factor."

Choose the right fireplace for you
When you're thinking about adding a fireplace to your current home or new construction, consider the following options:

Wood, with its unmistakable look, sound and smell, is the fireplace experience that evokes feelings of nostalgia for many homeowners. Today's woodburning fireplaces are more environmentally responsible than ever. Many models, like those in Heatilator's® Constitution™ line, comply with the strictest government air-quality regulations, and work in communities that have imposed bans on conventional woodburning fireplaces.

Gas is currently the most popular choice among homeowners, thanks to its convenience, efficiency and safety. A direct-vent gas fireplace can be installed almost anywhere; most gas fireplaces burn natural gas, but many can be installed to burn propane. In addition, direct-vent gas fireplaces use outside air for combustion, and expel 100% of the combustion exhaust and by-products outside the home.

Electric fireplaces don't require chimneys or venting systems, so they're a good option for apartments, condos and townhomes. These fireplaces can provide a fire-like ambiance either with or without heat.

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