With the average stove fitting project costing from between £1,000 to £3,000, it really is the sort of thing to get right first time. With that in mind, here are a few pointers to help you make decisions.
How To Find Your Stove Installer
Ideally, you should always get at least three quotes from three different installers. Do expect prices to vary, though if one is a lot more or a lot less than the others, go back to them and check they’ve understood your brief.
The best way to find reliable stove installers is by word of mouth. However, if you don’t know anyone in your area to ask, you can go on the HETAS website, which lists all of the HETAS engineers in your district. Some stove installers will work outside their area, and may or may not estimate for a fuel allowance. They are more likely to charge a fuel allowance during the busy winter period.
Many wood-burning stove showrooms also have a fitting service. Whilst this means you only then deal with one person, it does mean that the shop is likely to add a percentage to both the labour and flue and fittings costs. However, most independent stove installers can also source stoves, and will usually have a flue and fittings supplier that they prefer. As they don’t have the overheads of a shop, both stoves and flue and fittings should work out at a better deal for you.
Once You’ve Found Three Installers
Make an appointment to see them separately, preferably along with anyone else who will have a say in the fireplace design or choice of stove. If you live alone, consider asking a friend or family to join you for the appointment.
Estimates should always be free. However, if you’re asking an expert opinion on a project (following an insurance claim, for example), you should expect to pay a call-out free. We charge a call-out of £50, which includes the first hour’s labour, or a written report.
Follow your instincts. If you don’t like someone, don’t use them. The installer should be with you for a minimum of twenty minutes, and take the time to understand your project. He should also take relevant measurements, check your hearth, fireplace and chimney stack, and understand what it is you hope the stove will do. If the stove is to go in an occasional room and to be used just when you’re entertaining, it is probably best not to have an expensive stove. Or, if you want a stove to stay in through out the night, you will need at least a mid-range brand that can be easily controlled (Clearview seem to do the best stoves for ‘keeping in’).
Questions To Ask A Stove Installer
You will already have an idea how you would like your fireplace and stove to look, but it’s worth asking the fitter his opinion. He may be able to give you several options along with a price for each idea.
We work about four weeks in advance between April and September. In the Winter, our lead time for installing stoves can stretch to sixteen weeks. It is well worth bearing lead times in mind, particularly if you’re hoping to have the stove fitted in a general building schedule. We do use weekends for extra capacity, although only if the customer is really desperate. We do not charge extra, but others might.
Your chimney may or may not need lining. At the moment, building regulations only ask for a chimney to be lined if it fails a smoke-pressure test. Without doing the test, you won’t know. We charge from £100 for a smoke pressure test, which you can read about HERE.
You will need to know what type of hearth (both constructional and decorative) that you will need for your stove, according to size, leg height and design. Each stove has a down-draught rating, and building regulations will dictate the minimum hearth you will need. Make sure you ask the installer to include the costs of any works to be done to your hearth. If you’re doing it yourself, make sure you understand what the fitter will need you to do.
You may want to change your fireplace – make it bigger, or put in an oak beam, or stone mantel. Make sure that your stove installer has the skills set to do the work you need. If he seems hesitant (stone mantels are particularly tricky) ask if he has a builder he would rather work with. If he would rather use a builder, contact the builder to arrange an appointment for him to view the job. Establish with the fitter whether the fitter will be responsible for the builder (including guarantee of works, competency and payment). If he will not be responsible, then you will be, so do the job properly – get comparison quotes, check references. Here at SJL Services, we are happy to work in either type of set up. We usually do building work ourselves (and plastering), but we use a Gas Safe engineer for any sort of gas work.
Your fitter may be able to source the stove you want at a better price available than you can find. It is always worth asking for a good deal, and to check that basics such as delivery, VAT and handling are included in the price.
Always ask for a fixed price. If the fitter is unsure (he may have to dismantle a fireplace to understand the job), make sure that you have a good idea of likely scenarios, costs and a cut-off point. If you tell your fitter you have a fixed budget, he is much more likely to work to it, rather than risk losing the job.
Ask the fitter what might happen if there are any future problems with the installation. We always come straight out, but we do charge if we have a wasted journey for a problem that never existed.
Deciding On Your Fitter
Again, follow your instincts. The decision should not just be based on price, but also on whether you liked the fitter, their references, availability and general attitude.
Ask for, and check, references. It only takes a quick phone call and could save you an enormous headache.
Agree a start date, and make sure you understand duration.
Check your installer lives where you think he does, and that his contact numbers are correct.
And that’s it – you’re ready to go! If you are looking for a wood burning stove fitter near Banbury, give us a call.
Best of luck with your project.