No doubt about it, backyard fire pits are a “hot” trend these days. They are a great addition to your outdoor space, and provide a cozy way to entertain family and friends. If you’re thinking about adding a one to your backyard, here are a few things you need to know first.

Check City/Homeowners Association Regulations

Many municipalities and homeowners associations have regulations related to backyard fire pits. Ordinances can include open flame bans, location requirements, permits and safety inspections. Therefore, it is a good idea to research your city’s requirements before you purchase or begin construction on a fire pit.

Permanent or Portable?

One of the first decisions you need to make is if you want your fire pit to be a permanent structure or be portable. Portable fire pits offer the most flexibility allowing you to reposition them at any time. For backyards that is used for sports activities or is home to play equipment, this may be the best choice. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles to blend in with almost any décor. Permanent fire pits can be built to blend in with existing décor, often become the focal point of the landscape and offer added safety without the risk of tip-over.

Fuel Type

Wood and gas are the most common fuel types used for fire pits. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Wood is affordable, offers the traditional experience of burning real logs, and allows bigger fires. However, is also requires a stockpile of wood, may violate local ordinances and can be time-consuming to light, put out and clean up. On the other side, gas is clean, easy to operate, and eliminates blowing smoke; however, they are typically more expensive to install and operate.


Permanent fire pits can range from $100 for a DIY build to more than $1,000 to hire a contractor for the project. Cost can vary widely based on size, materials used, and location. Portable fire pits can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars.

Location, Location, Location

Consider any regulation first, some require specific distances from property lines and other structures. It is recommended that fire pits be at least ten feet away from the house, fence, trees or other structures. Avoid placing a fire pit under low-hanging tree branches, awnings or canopy’s.

Safety First

Never leave your fire pit unattended when burning. Consider using a mesh/wire cover when burning wood to keep embers inside and prevent children or pets from falling in. Keep fires small for more control, and be sure to supervise children closely around fires. Purchase a high quality fire extinguisher, and keep it easily accessible.

A backyard fire pit can provide hours of entertainment. However, before lighting your first fire, don’t forget to check with your Cole Harrison agent to review how your homeowners policy to see how a fire pit may impact your coverage.

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