The Lounge

360 degree picture of the lounge before work commenced

As the cold weather set in (January 2018), I decided to make a start on the fireplace in my lounge.

Let's be honest, it was pretty dated. It even had a skirting radiator... Not seen one of those in, well ever!

This Project is Still Ongoing

I started this project on 19.12.2017, but haven't yet completed it. I'm adding to the blog (below) as I rattle through the tasks, but it's going to take a while. Much of the work will be carried out after I build my extension, but there's still some things I want to do before then.

What Did I Need to do?

Loads, is the short answer...

The DIY tasks ahead of me are:

  • To rip out some 70's shelving that covered the abandoned fireplace, then install a new log burning stove, which involved:
    • Putting a flu liner down the chimney, plus replacing the chimney pot
    • Remodel the fireplace recess so that it was large enough for a 5KW stove
    • Install a granite hearth (the existing constructional hearth was suitable, thankfully)
    • Line the new recess, including curving the corners.
    • Install the stove
    • Get Building Regulation approval on the above
  • Probably re-plaster the whole lot, given that whoever plastered this house in the first place didn't know what they were doing.
  • Rip out the skirting radiator system and replace with normal radiators
  • Create a new side window opening
  • Turn a single internal door into two
  • Do something with the two pendant lights (not sure what yet)
  • Add sockets, TV aerial and a 3D surround sound speaker system to hook up to the TV
  • And, once the rear extension is done, knock through to create a two-door wide opening

It's going to be an epic journey for the old lounge, but it'll be worth it!


Just for a bit of fun, I have a go at estimating the cost & time

I have a budget for this, as a rough estimate I reckon I could do it all for no more than £2000. The cost of the granite hearth and stove bumps this up somewhat, but £2000 should be about right. I'm not counting the stove and hearth etc as furniture, as they're integral to the function of the room. As for timings, it's going to take a while and I'm not going to be unrealistic here, unlike the estimated 5 days for my Dining Room! I reckon it'll take 20 days of work, all in.... We'll see how that goes!

I also estimate that it would cost me an extra £3000 if I paid other tradesmen to carry out the work.

CAD plan on lounge from above showing the layout
CAD plan on lounge showing the new hearth to the left, new window opening to the right, double door to the top and the wide opening to the bottom

Daily log

A brief log of my battles with the tasks! with a few pictures chucked in...

Day 1&2 (19&20.12.2017)

As I wanted to install a stove, it made sense to do this first, just because it's one of the most messy tasks you can do. This started with dropping a new flu down the chimney, something I hope I don't have to repeat. Whilst I was on the roof, I got a few funny looks, a couple of health warnings from my neighbour and someone wanting to pay me to do theirs...... Not a chance I said!


picture of chimney pot on top of a chimney stack. The inside has been filled with concrete and there's grass growing out of it

So this is the chimney pot that I ended up replacing. I didn't want to replace it but it got obliterated when I tried to break out the lump of concrete that someone had kindly put inside the thing.

I have a worried look on my face as I'm standing on the roof. Picture is angled down the roof pitch to show how high it is

Turns out, I was scared of heights, which must be a recent thing because it's never been a problem before. My roof is really high too, at least it felt like it once I'd climbed up. Don't worry mum, you can see the straps of my safety harness over my shoulders.

By the end of the first day I had successfully placed the flu down the chimney. This took some huge effort on me and my wife's part. Once I'd removed the old chimney pot, I was on the roof pushing the flu down whilst my wife was pulling from below, it wouldn't budge, no matter how much we tried. Turns out, there was a kink in the chimney about a third of the way down, the flue just wouldn't budge past this point. After removing a brick from the chimney breast, I was able to access the chimney and guide the flu past this kink.

new stainless steel chimney cowl set n top of chimney pot
A standard stainless steel chimney cowl set on top of the chimney pot. The flue liner attaches to the cowl within the pot.

Day two took a couple of hours to fix the new chimney pot in place and the stainless steel cowl on top, then attach the flu to the cowl within the pot and lower the whole lot until the cowl rested snugly on top of the pot.

Day 3&4 (03&04.03.2018)

Okay, so I dropped off the fireplace for a few months as I got onto the Dining Room and replacing most of my Kitchen.

Anyway, next up with the fireplace is the hearth. The hearth can be finished in pretty much anything (as long as it's not flammable that is), but it does need to sit on a "structural hearth". This is basically a concrete slab with a minimum thickness. Luckily for me, one already existed below the area of my new hearth, which saved me a bit of work. So once I'd stripped back the carpet, I was left with this:

picture of old fireplace with the carpet removed showing the constructional hearth beneath

All that remained was to prime the bare concrete with PVA/water and pour on a self-leveling compound.

sam pouring self levelling compound onto the concrete hearth

This ensured the surface was really flat before resting the granite on top. Once dried, I applied a wet mortar mix to the screed and rested the granite hearth on top, making sure it was level with a few taps.

the black granite hearth has been laid onto the self levelling compound

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