Q: My husband and I are in escrow on a home that has an old fireplace. We had it inspected by a professional who has a good reputation for restoration. The report came back that it is in hazardous condition and requires removal or major renovation. Removal is our preference. It is on an exterior wall of the living room that would be better suited to having French doors in its place. Neither of us has a problem with getting physical in removing the fireplace, but what harm to the house (or ourselves) are we in danger of getting into? A: We can promise that you will get physical. You won't harm the house, unless a wayward brick goes through a window. And you won't harm yourselves -- except for some sore muscles -- if you pay attention and work safely. These days, fireplaces don't have the same panache as in days gone by. Yes, a fire is nice on the occasional winter's eve, but for most folks, the mess and energy inefficiency outweigh the occasional coziness. We're not surpri...
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