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Bespoke fireplaces – should I use a precast fireplace?

Bespoke fireplaces – should I use a precast fireplace?

If you want an outdoor fireplace, you may be wondering whether a complete precast package is better than a firebox and DIY fireplace surround. 

In this article, we outline the difference between using a firebox and using a precast fireplace. We explore when to use a firebox-only option and when to use a complete precast fireplace. 

Outdoor fireplace kits – Firebox vs Precast

The basic structure of an outdoor fireplace includes the inner chamber, chimney, fire surround, and hearth. Optional features can also be added, such as a mantel, grate, and screen. The inner chamber is known as a firebox and it is usually made of fire-resistant materials such as metal, firebricks, refractory concrete, or stone. 

There are two types of outdoor fireplace kits – firebox-only and precast. 

What is a firebox-only fireplace?

As Kiwis, we all love a bit of 'do it yourself' and, with a firebox, you have the freedom to design and build the surround yourself. 

If you choose this option, the firebox will come as a sole component, ready for you to complete the rest however you want. However, note that you will need to source all the materials to build the structure, clad it, and ensure the fireplace is compliant with local safety requirements. 

Potential problems with firebox-only options

DIY outdoor fireplaces can be challenging and costly, particularly if you are not confident about the construction process. It's also important to weigh up your options for product, aesthetics, and installation capability before you get started because you don’t want to waste time and materials on an unsafe structure. 

Another risk is that the completed fireplace does not meet the necessary requirements. We recommend speaking with a local outdoor firebox supplier and your council to ensure your fireplace is up to code.

What is a precast fireplace?

Precast fireplaces are typically made of precast concrete, which is poured and set as an empty shell. Once delivered to your property, the shell is filled with concrete to secure it to the foundation. At this point, the chimney, steel firebox, cladding, and any other accessories are added to the fireplace structure. 

A precast fireplace has all the basic elements of a fireplace, available as a prefabricated complete structure. This reduces the installation time and allows you to customise the fireplace cladding. 

Benefits of a precast outdoor fireplace

Faster installation

A precast fireplace comes as a complete unit, ready to install and use. The only site work to do is fixing it to the prepared foundation and adding your choice of cladding if required. This process can be completed much faster than an on-site fireplace installation which requires extensive masonry or structural work. 


Precast fireplaces arrive as a concrete shell, ready for you to put your own twist on it. The precast aspect simply serves as the foundation of the design, meaning you can customise it with your choice of cladding and accessories. 

For example, we have a range of precast designs and cladding ideas to choose from. After the concrete shell is filled with concrete, the chimney and firebox are installed, and your chosen cladding can be added. Cladding ideas include: 

  • Plaster and paint 
  • Schist
  • Brick
  • Riverstone
  • Mixed materials

See our gallery for examples of these cladding options on fireplaces.


While many people choose DIY fireplace kits to save on costs, precast fireplace shells often cost less overall. This is because the core structure and design are completed efficiently and compliance is more straightforward. Additionally, being low maintenance, a Trendz precast fireplace can save you significantly in lifetime costs.

Straightforward compliance

As a prefabricated unit, a precast fireplace usually results in a simpler design, compliance, and consent process. You will still need to obtain the relevant documents and approvals, but this will be easier as everything is already in place. 

At Trendz, our experts have the experience to guide you through the compliance process, accounting for your local requirements in our design stage. 

Low maintenance

As a cohesive unit, a precast fireplace is often easier to maintain than a DIY structure. These precast designs are less prone to unwanted gaps or leaks, which may lead to rust and other structural problems. 

At Trendz, our fireplaces are precast in our specialised factory, with strict quality control and inspections throughout. This ensures every fireplace meets our highest standards and is guaranteed to last for decades, even in the harsh New Zealand weather. 

Trendz outdoor fireplaces

At Trendz, all our outdoor fireplaces are made with a black steel firebox and a prefabricated surround. We also offer a range of accessories, including a swinging cooking grill, polished concrete hearth, GRC hearth, Corten steel wood boxes, GRC wood boxes, and front door covers. 

If you’re interested in an outdoor fireplace, contact our team for advice or browse our range. We also offer the option to purchase fireboxes by themselves, which is ideal if you plan to incorporate them into masonry. 
Discover our range of outdoor fireplaces

Have a question? Contact us