Buckley Rumford Fireplaces
Comments on Cost
How Much Should a Rumford Cost?
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BYRON SAVAGE, a Builder in Texas says "There is no reason to expect higher cost using the Rumford design. An experienced mason should be able to work faster. Time is money, too!"

from: Paul Gilbert
to: buckley@rumford.com
date: Sat, May 8, 2010
subject: 2000$ Can for 3 pieces of equipment?

Dear Mr Buckley,

Just for a confirmation from you. I thank you in advance.

Is it possible that I have to pay 2000$CAN for only 3 pieces of equipment: 1)throat, 2)damper and 3) smoke chamber (size 42")?  Is that an exact and reasonable price that I obtain from my dealer in Vaudreuil, Quebec in Canada (and them from Superior Clay Corporation)?  Referring to your experience, does that price make sense?

Thank you for your site that shares your know-how.
Paul Gilbert

    Reply Jim Buckley to Paul


    That price seems high - about twice the wholesale FOB price. Typically our dealers mark stuff up about 40% and add freight. Freight can vary a lot depending on whether the product is shipped LTL (less than a full truckload) or as part of a full truckload.  I'd call another dealer or two and ask if they have the 42" Rumford setup kit in stock or could they include it on the next full truckload to save the high LTL shipping costs.

    Still $1,500 to $1,800 is a lot of money. By using the segmented throat system which is compared on line with our one-piece throat you can save a little money on the throat but the time and labor are more.

    We still think the throat and smoke chamber pay for themselves in the time and labor saved. You can build any old fireplace without the Rumford throat and with an inferior parged smoke chamber but the Rumford will be faster and easier to build with less skill, the components will be of superior quality and the Rumford will be more efficient and cleaner-burning.

    You can also make your own throat and smoke chamber as some have. A few of these attempts, like the firebrick throat or the carved stone throat may be as good as the Superior Clay components but they take much longer with expensive materials and a lot of skill. The concrete or steel throats featured here and there are time-consuming cheap approximations with disadvantages in terms of durability in the case of concrete and expansion that may tear the masonry apart in the case of steel.

    In the end we think we have gotten it right and that a Rumford using Superior Clay components save enough time and money to pay for themselves so that a Rumford costs about the same as a much inferior regular masonry fireplace. See http://www.rumford.com/training/cost.html

    Shop around to get the best price you can on the components but keep in mind that the time and labor is where the real money is. I will help you even if you don't use our components.

    Warm regards,
    Jim Buckley

Insight Requested on Construction Quote
From: jeff haresnape
to: buckley@rumford.com
date: Thu, Apr 29, 2010


  I live in Cary NC and spoke to you a few weeks ago about the particulars of a 48" Rumford.  You spent a generous amount of time discussing various aspects/details of construction, directed me to the recommended component list, etc.  Well, armed with that information I contacted three masons all with experience constructing Rumfords.  Mason #1 never showed despite expressing sincere interest in the project on the phone.  Mason #2 appeared at the agreed time, reviewed our drawings, listened to what we wanted (dismissed the need for some of the components) and ultimately never got back to us with a bid. Mason #3 showed, was very familiar with your site, clay components, etc. Well long story short we rec'd his bid for the fireplace; ~$18,000. Now I have yet another mason coming to review the project and submit a bid.

  Question: what should it cost to construct?

  Review the attached prelim CAD drawings and refer to the following details.

  Firebox 48” with 45 degree firebrick design
Rough dimensions:
total width ~7’ with flush hearth (similar to attached photo example sans the raised hearth)
FP installed in a room with a vaulted ceiling so about 17’ of exposed chimney on interior covered in natural stone veneer.
Outside dimensions are 10’ (footing to floor height), plus the 17’ (hearth to roof peak) and another 3’ (chimney beyond roof for code) = 30’ of brick covered base and chimney. (see rear view of home)

  Again, all materials as per your specifications; 1-piece throat, smoke chamber, clay flue segments, K&W damper, refractory mortar, plus bricks and stone veneer.

  What should I expect to pay -----  I understand this is an unreasonable request, but I just need some assurances that this quote is in the ballpark.

Jeff Haresnape
Cary, NC

    Jim Buckley to jeff


    We have a guide to cost on line at http://www.rumford.com/training/cost.html It all boils down to time, materials and risk.  You can get the cost of the materials from our dealers.  Maybe the mason will get a slight discount but no more than ten percent. A legitimate mason who is insured and pays taxes and knows his overhead and labor costs will need to bring in about $1,000 per day. Some masons are more productive than others so fair questions might be how long will the job take? How much do you expect to get done each day and is there any way I can make it easier for you to save a day or two? You can expect a contractor to factor in some risk.  Or you can accept all the risk by hiring the mason on a time and materials basis.  I think it's wise to discuss risk and negotiate who pays if the job is delayed beyond the expected time.

    In your case, compared with the on-line guide, you have a larger 48" Rumford, a herringbone firebox, a stone veneer and a taller chimney - all of which cost more and can be calculated separately or backed out.  The herringbone box might take a good mason three days to build so it will add about $3,000 over the cost of a basic running bond firebox. Stone veneer runs about $30 per square foot. It's difficult without seeing the job or knowing the local specifics to bid a job accurately but $18,000 might be a fair bid.  Talk about it.  Without beating up your mason see if you can help him get the job done more efficiently and faster - like getting the floor headed off the gas line in and the area cleaned up so he can erect scaffolding. If cost is an issue the first thing I would back out is the herringbone box which doesn't add anything to the performance of your Rumford and only looks great before you have the first fire.

    From the plan you sent me I would recommend building the chimney taller.  The fact that it's lower than the tallest part of the house, even if it meets code in that it's more than ten feet away, could mean a problem getting adequate draft.  See our comments about how tall the chimney should be at http://www.rumford.com/Boone.html

    Finally, I would like to know the names of the three masons you asked for bids.  We may want to educate or not promote masons who don't respond or who change out the specifications.  And we might want to follow up and increase our promotion of the mason who responds with a professional and reasonable proposal and who is a good craftsman.

    Thanks for the feedback.  We appreciate it and would like to hear what you finally decide.

    Warm regards,
    Jim Buckley

Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2007
From: Bill Thomas
Subject: Relative pricing
To: Jim Buckley
Cc: Ann Thomas


Just as a ballpark figure, how much could I expect to pay for - say - a back-to-back or a rumford with a 36" oven. We are still years away from building, but like to plan ahead.

Bill Thomas


    As you may imagine it's difficult, maybe even irresponsible of me, to guess at how much some other mason or contractor might charge to build a couple of Rumfords and an oven at an unknown (to me) location and with an unknown level of finish.

    Nevertheless, we have some guidelines on the website at http://www.rumford.com/training/cost.html that might help you understand the process, give you some ballpark figures and arm you to interview contractors.

    Tell me a little more and maybe I can be more specific. Obviously stone costs more than block or concrete. The big savings is in having a good plan and hiring craftsmen who are production oriented - ie. show up on time and get some work done without having to stumble over each other or make too many cell phone calls. Time and opportunity costs translate to money and, if you're not ready when the mason comes, it still costs somebody $1,000 a day or so even if no work gets done.

    Send me plans and discuss your overall strategy and I'll try to help you get ready. It's a good sign that you're starting years early. You'll probably be ready.

    Jim Buckley


Wow. A propmt, precise thorough answer. I can see why you are good. This is precisely what I needed. I knew I'd seen the page you sent, but couldn't find it. Thank you.

Black Canyon City, AZ is on the Maricopa/Yavapai County line north of Phoenix on I-17. It seems to me there was a link so someone in PHX. I could pursue it that way.

I liked your idea that starting early would probably have us ready. We'll take it to heart.

It has to be so satisfying to constantly create new and beautiful works of functional art.

Thanks again,


Hi Jim:

I met you last week at NAHB. I am doing my second Rumford fireplace, this time a large one. Can you give me an idea of the cost of the R7254 kit? The job is in Wexford, PA (near Pittsburgh). Thanks.

Mary Cerrone, AIA
412 362 0768


    Costs seem to be going through the roof lately. Let me try to help you shop for Rumfords intelligently without actually quoting any hard figures which would only irritate our dealers and mason contractors who are the only ones in a position to quote real prices.

    Firstly, the components and materials prices should be available directly from our dealers listed on line at http://www.rumford.com/dealer.html. Ask two or three dealers. Ask, if the product is not in stock, if any freight and crating charges can be saved by shipping directly to the job site or by adding your order to the next full truck load of flues. The shopping list for the 72" Rumford is linked to the "specs" page and is at http://www.rumford.com/specR7254.html Don't order too much material. A dealer may deliver up to 20% more material than needed to avoid making two trips. Better to order the right amount of material and save the 20%. Design the fireplace and chimney intelligently. Locate the fireplace in the right place to minimize expensive finishes and maximize the use of the chimney for other flues. Using the correct size flue can save you 20%. See http://www.rumford.com/articleFluesize.html I'll be happy to review your plans and make suggestions.

    Next, review the "simulated production" construction picture series starting at http://www.rumford.com/prod.html. I know this is only a simple 36" Rumford built under ideal conditions but it's purpose is to give you an idea of the process, what's involved and what a masonry crew can do in a day. The bigger 72" fireplace will take longer and cost more. So will a fancier bigger chimney and job site glitches like not being ready, or the mason having to spend half a day moving windows out of the way.

    Now find two or three masons to interview and/or ask for bids. Get referrals from our dealer and check our masons list at http://www.rumford.com/mason.html. We want masons to make good money - maybe up to $1,000 per day - but we want them to work smart. If the bid comes in at $20,000 and you already know that all the materials cost $4,000, does the mason expects to work on the job for three weeks? Or is he insuring himself against unforeseen contingencies? What does he expect to get done each day? What can you do to make his job easier and therefore faster so he can make money and you can save money? Break the job down into separate tasks. You don't need a skilled stone mason to lay block. Maybe it's better to get one mason to rough in the fireplace and someone else to do the finish work. Is there a way to share the risk rather than pay for it up front? If you think the bid is way too high you might consider taking all the risk yourself and hire a mason by the day or hour on a time and materials basis.

    The real money will be in the labor costs. Be prepared, ask hard questions, find the right mason(s) and then give them a bonus so they don't feel beaten up.

    Let me know how this approach works.

    Jim Buckley

How Much Should a Rumford Cost?

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