No one can deny that the Canterbury earthquakes are a (architecturally) tragic event. The damage and loss of/to the heritage buildings (a subject very close to my heart) in and around the region is something that was naively largely unexpected. In reality, of course, it is always going to happen somewhere in this country of ours.

Light-weight brick chimney

But every cloud has a silver lining and this one has many. Firstly and amazingly; no loss of life. And it’s a wake-up that if it can happen in Chch then it can happen anywhere – therefore be prepared. Another silver lining is, in times of adversity people generally pull and work together – I say generally because I did hear that there were some rat-bag looters.

Of course the old masonry, in particular chimneys, took a hammering. Having bricks falling from above makes it even more remarkable that no one was killed. As the business owner of Moss Brothers my career has evolved and now I spend my time working on the business instead of in it.

And that means, yes writing blogs, but also chatting to people, many people.

Several months ago I was having a chat with a couple that came into the Waikanae show home. We were talking about open log fires and chimneys and how good they look (although very inefficient) with period (older New Zealand) architecture. I explained that, aside from being inefficient, there is horrendous cost in building a brick fire place and chimney. You see these days, to avoid them collapsing in EARTHQUAKES they are built from reinforced concrete. The foundations are set well into the ground so that the last thing standing in the event of a disaster is the chimney.

Shiest stone chimney

Although I did say ‘reinforced concrete’ they are usually dressed up with other products like used bricks or shiest as e.g. So long as the veneer is correctly tied back in accordance with the building code she can shake, rattle and roll all she likes (sorry in advance for any she’s that take offence) and generally things will stay put. How much for such a structure? From $20k – usually much more.

However there is, as always, other alternatives and they come in the form of illusions – something we are very good at. We simply create the same look and feel out of permanent light-weight materials. This also means they are very very much cheaper to build but you can’t tell the difference in appearance. The chimneys you see in the photos here have all been built on period replica Moss Brothers homes.

One final comment: As you will see in an earlier blog Moss Brothers are contacted regularly in regards to values of period and heritage buildings. Well, I remember earlier this year I was contacted by from someone in the Christchurch City Council. They were asking me about the construction of some the chimneys they saw on our website. There final comment was – don’t call us, we’ll call you if we need any more help. They never did contact me or the licensed Moss Brothers architect based in Canterbury as suggested.

Light-weight chimneys can easily pass for the real thing. See even more examples  on our Past Projects page.

Brick Chimney?

Waterproof and earthquake proof


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