Question: Good evening Robert. I love reading your weekly articles. I’ve learned and used so much of the information you’ve shared! Thank you! I now have a question of my own, hoping you can help. What does one do when faced with an incredibly outrageous proposal from a contractor?
We’ve been in our older home in Valencia for just a few months and though our inspection went well when we purchased, we decided to have the fireplace and chimney inspected by a chimney company prior to using it this season. Well, this company informed us that our chimney is the old-school, one-piece concrete-formed style and has cracks in it.
He says that the entire unit needs to be demolished and rebuilt, to the tune of over $20,000! I about had a heart attack and of course, am nervous to use this until any danger has been resolved. What would you suggest I do in this situation. Is there another option that doesn’t cost this much? Thank you for any help you can offer.
— James B.
Answer: James, oh boy, I’ve seen this a few times with these older pre-fab chimneys. Luckily, I’ve seen much less expensive ways to repair, when the damages are minimal.
First, I recommend you call at least two more contractors, confirming first that they are licensed and insured. Likely, you’ll get options to either repair the cracks or install an insert (sleeve) within the existing chimney.
This, the sleeve, is likely going to be the best option both for safety, function and cost, rather than a demo and rebuild. I’m sure that the original bid you received was an honest opinion, as there are many correct ways to fix this issue.
Lastly, this is without a doubt an item that needs building permits, so be sure that whatever contractor you hire, they are on board with acquiring permits and that final inspection is signed off on, prior to your final payment to the contractor. Best of luck.
Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].