Building regulations for wood burning stoves

man fixing chimney

A wood burning stove is a fantastic addition to any home. Apart from the obvious warmth, light and ambiance that it brings, it also adds value to a property. A recent article in the national press suggested that it could add as much as 5% to the total value.

While you don’t have to submit a planning application to install a wood burner, you do need to comply with the relevant building regulations. Failure to comply may invalidate your home insurance and will cause issues when it comes to selling your property.

As every property is different and building regs for wood burning stoves differ slightly in England, Wales and Scotland, we would recommend booking a consultation with a registered installer before going out and buying a wood burner. The materials used in the construction of your house, the presence of a suitable chimney and even the material of the fireplace hearth and mantel will all need to be considered. An experienced installer will be able to advise you in all these areas, but if you are planning on installing the wood burner yourself then you will need to familiarise yourself with the detailed guidance on the government website.

Relevant building regulations can be summarised under the following headings, but this should not replace advice from a qualified expert and your own detailed research.


All wood burning stoves and fireplaces require a suitable chimney. Existing chimneys can be used but they will need to be thoroughly checked to ensure that they comply with building regulations. They will need to be of sufficient diameter for the model of stove, be completely airtight, and be structurally sound. An existing chimney may have to be relined and should certainly be swept and cleaned prior to installing a new wood burner.

Hearth Requirements

A hearth is normally a brick, stone, marble, or cement slab that your wood burner will sit on. Always made from a non-combustible material, it will protect your floor from the stoves heat, and any hot coals or embers that might fall out. Building regulations specify the dimensions and depth of the hearth for different flooring types and models of stove. For example, if you buy a stove that is designed to limit the heat that is radiated downwards then a thinner hearth can be used.


The air in the room will drive the combustion of the fuel that you are burning in your stove.  Any solid fuel stove that has an output above 5kws requires an appropriately sized air vent that is permanently open. Building regulations also dictate the design and location of the vent to ensure that it can’t be closed by mistake or blocked up by vegetation outside the property or objects in the room.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

From the October 2010 building regulations now stipulate that you must have a battery powered carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the stove. Furthermore, the detector must be powered by a sealed long-life battery rather than replaceable batteries. Carbon monoxide is dangerous as it is odourless and colourless. An incorrectly installed wood burner and lack of ventilation can cause levels to silently creep up to dangerous levels. A good quality detector will give you plenty of warning if this starts to happen.

As you can see, building regulations are designed to ensure the longevity of the property and the safety of its occupants. Ensuring that you comply with them when installing your wood burner will give you the peace of mind to enjoy your wood burner safely for many years.