Several weeks ago we responded to a reader's question about possibly removing a fireplace in her 1920s Oakland house. She made it clear she was going to hire this job out, but wanted our opinion on what we thought of the idea. We gave her the pros and cons as we saw them and also gave her a primer on what might be involved should she decide to take the plunge. We pointed out that it would be a lot of work to not only demolish the fireplace but also replace the void she'd create. Pretty general advice, we thought. But it struck a nerve with another of our readers, architect Neil Rains. Here, edited for space, is his view: "Thank you for your Sweat Equity columns. They are generally enlightening, sometimes entertaining and, I'm sure, helpful and supportive to those who write to you. "I am dismayed by your lack of informing your readers about the legal requirement for obtaining building permits prior to beginning work! On Sept. 13, you wrote about the possibili...
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