It’s official: backyards are the new “second home.” Who needs a vacation home when your outdoor space feels like an oasis? One way to make your backyard feel extra luxurious is by adding an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit.
Often, fireplaces and pits are part of an extensive outdoor layout including an outdoor kitchen, patio, and even a pool. But even if you don’t have any of these amenities, a place to host a fire can completely change your outdoor space.
“But if I had to choose one [amenity], I would always choose the fireplace,” says David Malka, co-founder of DYM Builders. “Especially here in Southern California, it’s the perfect weather for a fireplace. You can sit around it when it gets chilly at night. You can drink your wine, you can socialize.”
Ready to add a little heat to your outdoor space? Here’s what to keep in mind when embarking on the project.
What kinds of fire pits are there?
Fire pits and fireplaces are generally divided into two categories: those connected to a gas or electric line, and those that are free-standing.
You also have the choice to build a fire pit, which is open from the top, or a fireplace, which is open from one or two sides. A fire pit allows those sitting around any side of it to have access to the fire. But a fireplace allows only those sitting in front of it direct access. Typically a pit is out in an open area with seating around it, while a firepit can be built into an existing wall or other feature.
Gas and electric fireplaces and firepits
Fireplaces and pits that are connected to gas and power lines provide homeowners the convenience of having a fire within seconds. Because they’re powered by gas or electricity, you can simply turn them off or on. Plus, gas- or electric-powered features don’t emit any smoke, and have a fairly neutral smell, which can be appealing for those who don’t love the odor of traditional campfires. They also help keep the air clean and are fairly energy-efficient.
Wood- or charcoal-burning fireplaces and firepits
For those who prefer a traditional fire feature, a wood- or charcoal-burning fireplace or pit is best. These structures do not need to have gas or electricity powered to them, but that means that getting the fire started will be more complicated. If you go this route, you should be prepared to construct and start a fire each time you’d like to utilize the feature. You’ll also need to have wood or charcoal on hand in order to keep the fire burning.
What kind of outdoor fireplace is more expensive?
Generally speaking, a gas- or electric-powered fire feature will be more expensive than one powered by wood or charcoal, because you will have to run a gas line from the meter to your feature. This can require digging up parts of the ground to lay the line, which can add to your cost. It’ll also take longer to complete than a free-standing fireplace or pit.
Average budget for a fireplace or fire pit
Your budget for your fireplace or pit will depend on what you want to build around it. For example, if you wish to construct a patio with built-in seating, that’ll cost more than just building the pit itself. Additionally, the materials you use and the size of your feature will impact your costs.
You may also choose to use a pre-made fire pit instead of custom-designing your own. This can cut down on your costs, but can impact the quality and aesthetics of your final product.
HomeAdvisor estimates that the average outdoor fire pit project costs $700, but be sure to discuss with your contractor first.
How to plan for your outdoor fireplace or fire pit build
You’ll need to make a few decisions beyond what type of fire pit you’d like to build. Once you know if you’d like to power your fire pit with gas, electricity, wood, or charcoal, you can start working on the design and the location of the pit.
Ideally, a pit will have seating around it so you, your family, and friends can enjoy the fire. Whether you want to use outdoor furniture or build custom seating is up to you.
The fire pit should also sit on top of a patio to help protect the earth, and to make sitting around it more comfortable. You’ll discuss design plans with your contractor, considering factors such as size, shape, material, and location of the patio. You might want to place a wood- or charcoal-burning fire pit far away from the house to avoid smoke blowing into your home. Or, you may want to place it close to other features in the backyard to create a cohesive layout.
A professional design can help take your fire pit from simple to highly luxurious.
Enjoy your completed project
Depending on the other features you’re including in your project, a fire pit can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Once your project is done, be sure you have the tools necessary to maintain your charcoal- or wood-burning fire, such as pokers and a safe, dry place to store the wood or charcoal.
Now there’s nothing to do but sit back, relax, and enjoy your fire pit year-round.