Why the best renovation decision you can make is to add in a fireplace

Escea DF990 Gas Fireplace
Escea DF990 Gas Fireplace

Human beings are hardwired to connect around a fire: They were once a means of survival, then a way of keeping us warm, connected and fed.  

With international travel limited for a few years and Kiwis enjoying a lot more time at home, the large-scale boom in renovation has seen many considering some form of home improvement, including installing a fireplace.

After last year's COVID-19 lockdowns an unexpected side effect of lockdown was a surge in home improvements.   

Builderscrack, an online jobs board for building work, says there was a near-30 percent jump in work posted on its website in June last year, with people saying they were channelling money they would have spent on travelling into their homes instead.

So if you're one of those thinking about adding something extra to your home, industry experts say you should start by installing a fireplace. 

It's not just about enjoying the flames - although we have a great guide to meditating fireside here - but also adding value.

Mode Peninsula luxury gas fireplace
Mode Peninsula luxury gas fireplace

Newshub turned to Ray White Remuera salesperson John Q for help. John has almost 11 years of experience and identifies entertainment areas, including fireplaces, as one of the top things that home buyers are asking for.

"Fireplaces are a highlight in the home and provide warmth and a place to gather. When looking for a home, it's easy to imagine sitting around the fireplace and relaxing with family and friends," he says. 

This may also be a result of the COVID-19 pandemic - weeks indoors without seeing family and friends has made us more in need of social connection than ever. 

In Auckland, John says, the demand for fireplaces is high as "many buyers are looking for renovated or modern homes" with "maximum heat output and comfort".

It's a stat that's echoed internationally. A recent report out of the US from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says the overall number of prospective home buyers who find gas fireplaces to be desirable or essential has been increasing since 2003, rising from 44 percent to 55 percent in 2018.

"I would always recommend a gas fireplace if the home allows for it as it's always a key feature in a home."

Escea DX1000 Double Sided Gas Fireplace, installed in interior designer Nina Maya's holiday home
Escea DX1000 Double Sided Gas Fireplace, installed in interior designer Nina Maya's holiday home

Unlike an open wood, gas or ethanol fire, all Escea gas fires are glass-fronted, sealed units. This not only helps with heat efficiency, it also makes them airtight and safe from fumes. This makes for a drier and healthier home, giving you peace of mind too.

Matthew Cuffe, architectural advisor for Escea says their flexible flue design certainly does have an edge. 

"The Escea flue system comprises two flexible flues with 100mm and 80mm diameter that can bend up to 10 times in any direction and run up to 40 metres away to penetrate a roof or wall. 

Cuffe says this means there will be no compromise on design, whatever your renovation plans.  

"Essentially this means you can put your fireplace almost anywhere. In the middle of the room for example – by running the flue underneath the floor,” he says. 

Escea DFS730 Freestanding Gas Fireplace by Clare Cousine.
Escea DFS730 Freestanding Gas Fireplace by Clare Cousine. Photo credit: Tess Kelly

When it comes to mother nature and choosing a sustainable heating source for your home, the answer is not black and white. In fact, wood, gas and electricity are all very comparable when it comes to their long-term environmental impact, and the best option for your home will be unique to your environment. 

Escea’s gas fireplaces are room sealed and glass fronted, with direct vent technology and hand crafted heat exchangers which heat the air before returning it to the room, rather than seeing it escape up the flue - an efficient way of heating your home. Electric fireplaces can be a great solution to heating smaller spaces as they put out a more modest amount of heat – and that could be all you need. However, when we’re talking about heat output, wood is still king.


Spartherm Freestander Wood Fire
Spartherm Freestander Wood Fire

Richie Heap, real estate agent for Colliers, Queenstown has nine years of experience in the Central Otago region, and says heating is a big consideration when it comes to buying a home.

"A lot of boxes need to be ticked around that because as you can imagine, it gets freezing. Escea fireplaces have always sold well, I originally got an Escea more as a feature but when I went to use it, I said 'holy moly, these things really work!'" he recounts.

In the wake of COVID19, Ritchie said homeowners were forced to think about where they wanted to spend time and the value they placed on their homes.

"People realise they've got more time in their houses and they want them to be comfortable and nice – a fireplace creates that [feeling], and it just adds value, doesn't it?"

Click here to check out Escea's website. 

Written for the Escea Fireplace Company