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Fire pits are a very popular outdoor item in the San Diego area, so it just makes sense that you want to shop wisely when you are in the market for a way to add a source of heat to your luxury backyard oasis. In this second part of our buyer’s guide to firepits, we look at considerations such as cost, type of fuel, permits and safety considerations.

Fire Pit Cost

While budget may not be an issue for you, it still makes sense to investigate the cost of not only the fire pit itself, but installation.

chiseled fire pit

Freestanding fire pits are the easiest to incorporate in your backyard or on a patio, and they are available in loads of different styles, sizes, and shapes. The cost of these units runs the gamut from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Their advantage is that they are easily moved and can be taken with you when you decide to sell your home.

Grand Cordova outdoor gas fireplace
An outdoor propane fireplace such as this Grand Cordova firefall fireplace easily becomes the focal point of your backyard oasis.

An installed fire feature, such as an outdoor fireplace, costs more for the unit itself and for incorporating it in your outdoor living space. It requires additional square footage and preparation to ensure it is safely installed. These are big considerations. Do your homework before purchasing so you are not hit with any surprises.

Type of Fuel

Fuel options for fire pits include natural gas, propane, and wood. In southern California, the former two are preferred as we are often limited by our ability to burn wood based on air quality concerns. Of course, there is nothing like a crackling fire with mesmerizing flames, but a similar effect can be created with today’s modern gas fire pits. Plus, they stay cleaner, and they are environmentally friendly. We encourage our customers to opt for propane or natural gas if it is available in their neighborhood. These options do require additional installation costs, however, to extend a gas line or add a propane tank to your property.

Permitting Your Fire Pit

Usually, permits are not required to install a freestanding fire pit in your backyard. However, natural gas fire pits may require a permit for extending the gas line. A local fire official may also need to perform a site inspection to ensure that your installation is safe. Large fire pits and fireplaces (more than 4 feet in diameter) may also require a building permit. In this guide to firepits, we recommend that you do investigate the requirements in your municipality before beginning work.

Guide to Firepits Safety

When it comes to fire pit safety, location, location, location is the key concept. You must ensure that there are no flammable materials around or underneath the fire feature; in fact, a brick, paver, gravel, or concrete foundation is best. Look up, as well, and make sure there are no low-hanging tree branches that may catch fire. A position of ten feet from any building or wooden fence is recommended.

Fire Pit Accessories Large Round Glass Fire Guard fits 24" Round Burner
This Large Round Glass Fire Guard fits a 24″ Round Burner and provides extra safety

Also, educate all members of your family regarding turning the fire pit off and on safely. Be sure young children know to refrain from touching the fire pit or getting too close to in when in use. A spark arrestor screen is a practical addition.

This second installment of the buyer’s guide to firepits is meant to help you make good decisions about adding warmth and ambience to your outdoor living space.

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