Winter is upon us, and with more people staying at home for leisure, many are considering making “patio season” a whole year affair. One way to make that happen, is through the installation of a backyard/deck fire pit or outdoor fireplace. However, many homeowners are concerned about the liability implications about making such an upgrade. Is it allowed in British Columbia? Will it impact your homeowners insurance policy? Here’s what you need to know.
What BC Homeowners Need to Know Before Installing a Backyard / Patio Fire Pit or Outdoor Fireplace
Natural Gas Outdoor Fireplaces and Fire Pits Are Legal in BC
Natural gas outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are not only more convenient and affordable when compared to the alternatives, they are fully legal in British Columbia. However, each municipality will have its own rules and regulations, so be sure to check out the local bylaws before installing.
Wood-fuelled outdoor fires in your backyard or on your deck however, no matter how they are contained, are banned in most municipalities. For example, in Greater Vancouver residents are not allowed to install or use wood-burning appliances anywhere on their private property. What about those who live in other parts of the province? In the end, fire pits and outdoor fireplace use are subject to the same laws for backyard burning. Check with your local municipality or regional district prior to installing or using one.
Unlawful or Unsafe Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces Could Impact Your Insurance
This seems like an obvious statement to make, but it bears clarity. If you operate an illegal or unsafe fire pit or fireplace in your backyard or on your deck, ensuing damage and/or injury may not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. What may seem like a harmless good time between family and friends on your own property could have serious implications.
Legal Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces Are Insurable (if done right)
If you want to enjoy the experience of gathering with loved ones around the soothing warmth of an outdoor fire be sure to hire a licensed gas contractor to install the system.
A licensed contractor knows BC fire restrictions and they also understand that every municipality is unique. There may be explicit requirements regarding spacing from trees, bushes, electrical wiring, and even neighboring properties. This way you will have shown due diligence.
Because natural gas installations require underground gas piping and possibly some sort of retrofitting of your patio/deck, you will want to ensure you’re protected from any injury or damage that may occur. Consult with an independent insurance broker who can review your existing policy. If there are gaps, they can recommend policy updates to ensure that you’re protected and able to enjoy your new fire pit or fireplace with peace of mind.
Simply put, if you plan on installing a fire pit or outdoor fireplace on your BC property, please contact Park Insurance today for a comprehensive review of your homeowners insurance policy.