Lance King-F…, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA

Fireplace - gas vs wood burning?

Asked by Lance King-Founder/Broker, San Francisco, CA Sat Oct 16, 2010

I know what my answer is, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the real estate community's view is. We have a client who just bought a home that has a wood-burning fireplace and is trying to decide whether to add a gas starter and keep it wood-burning or add an insert and convert to gas. What is your perspective with regards to resale value? The price point is $2.5 - $3 Million.

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Scott Miller is the king of the bloggers on the sexy home/condo. I would go with his advice!
Real wood burning is sexy. Who wants to imagine cuddling up to a gas unit. Arghhh.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010
There are some really good looking, expensive ceramic "fake" log sets that are more thermally condusive and efficient than wood burning logs and cleaner for the environment and less messy. My wife and I had a real fireplace and between the mess, safety, (going to bed with embers still glowing) and the fact that wood logs lose more heat than they put out when the outside temperature is under 40 degrees. Ceramic logs radiate more heat than wood, it is a fact! Whereas a fancy gas log set with amazing fake embers, ( i swear you could not tell with a screen or door in front of it) and would think a green buyer or anyone into not having soot stain the ceilings and dust in the house for allergies would be all for it. if someone's gotta have the wood crackle, a gas log fireplace could be converted easily by a plumber to a gas starter provided the chimney can handle it and the local ordinances allow it.

Can you tell I am a huge advocate for gas fireplaces?
If you like my answer, please select best answer, thanks!!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
A gas starter makes starting a fire make easier! Do it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 23, 2010
I think it would depend on the home. Log homes I would go with a wood burning, and everything else I would use gas. No worries on storing the wood, cleaning up a mess, and I can still be lazy while enjoying a fire.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 19, 2010

You may want to provide the link below to your client. Also, it's good general knowledge to keep at hand.

Happy funding, Rudi
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 19, 2010
Some people prefer the smell and look of a wood buring fireplace. They are messy and can attract bugs and dirt into your home. They also leave creosite in the walls of the fireplace chimney. Gas fireplaces are cleaner, easier and can be just as enjoyable. As far as resale value, it is a personal preference.

Tammy Hayes, Realtor
Sandals Realty, Punta Gorda, FL
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
Forgot to mention, a fancy log set cost $500-$750 and if we are talking about a 2.5M home, it is far more elegant to have a gas knob rather than have a cord of wood pile next to the garage. By the way, they have stuff you can throw in with the ceramic logs to make it crackle and smell too. The most important factor in having an elegant fireplace is to have a custom made glass door. I spent $1,300 on a fancy door and found on ebay fancy log set for $350 that fireplace shops sell for $600.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
Good point Sally. They are definitely a thing of the past in new homes, but we also advised him that he needed to pull a permit to move the gas line. I don't believe it is required to convert a wood burning to gas just by adding a starter, but as we told him he'd find that out when the permit was pulled.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
The real thing is always the best at any price point. But if a permit is needed, I would check before I gave any advice because real fireplaces are a thing of the past in new construction and could be (?) when renovating older homes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
This is what I told our client:

You just spent over $2 million dollars for a home that you intend to reside in for a long time. Do what you want to live with. This is a small enough expense that it doesn't make sense to proceed with resale value in mind on this item unless you don't have a preference, and whatever you choose it's not going to make a huge difference on resale.

Sounds like he's keeping it wood burning, and I would agree that this adds much more character and ambiance that a gas fireplace.

I would agree with the majority of you that it makes sense on resale as well. Thanks to all of you for the responses.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Oct 17, 2010
My preference would be to keep the wood-burning function and get the gas starter. Nothing like the real thing for ambience, the sound of crackling logs, the aroma...

However, as more and more communities are concerned about clean air and are banning wood-burning fireplaces, this may be a moot point when it happens here.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010
Hi Lance:

First check with the city if you touch the Fireplace whether it is required to convert the fireplace to an
EPA certified Wood Burning place.

Frankly, I would go with a gas starter.

The state is mandating that any new fire places be migrated to an EPA efficient one.

Good luck.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010

Wood burning with a gas starter is the only way to go. The gas inserts cheapen a home in my opinion.

Michael Robertson
Pacific Union International
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010
Add the gas starter and keep it real-wood-burning. I always hear clients comment favorably towards "real" fireplaces.

Oggi Kashi,
Broker Associate
Paragon Real Estate Group - dre 1844627
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010

In my opinion this decision depends on whether or not you are a survivalist or simply into the cozy atmosphere created by the fire. There is an old saying, "you can't beat wood heat!" But in today's the eyes of most, "you can't beat the convenience of gas."

In our northern retreat home we have a wood/coal cookstove(Kalamazoo) in the kitchen and a converted gas fireplace in the living room. Our decision was based on both survivalism and convenience.

Interesting question.....

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010
Hi Lance. Always go with the 'real thing', no matter what the price of the home. It adds value when something is genuine and not phony/fake/kitsch.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 16, 2010
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