Building a Fire Pit for your Off-Grid Living

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One of people’s favorite things to do in the fall and winter is to invite friends and family over, and gather around a fire pit. A wood-burning fire pit can dress up a drab yard with mesmerizing flames while serving as a gathering place for afternoon barbecues, evening drinks, and for making s’mores.

They give you that great outdoors feeling in the comfort of your own backyard. A perfect spot to cozy up, and easy to build your own fire pit for your off-grid living.

Importantly, before building a fire pit however, you should become fully informed as to local regulations, construction requirements, and potential hazards. So to avoid you get burned please study the following dos and don’ts.

-DON’T build a fire pit without approval from local authorities. Your local government, homeowners association, and house deed may impose restrictions on the size, location, material, and fuel type of home fire pits—or forbid them altogether.

If your fire pit flouts these rules, you may be fined. Disclosing your backyard fire pit could be a requirement of your homeowners insurance policy.

Check with your agent to learn if having a fire pit may affect your coverage, and ensure that you comply with all restrictions and obtain any permits required for fire pit installation.

-DON’T position fire pits in hazard-prone zones with unfavorable winds. Plan to install your fire pit on a patch of level ground in an open area of the yard that’s at least 15 feet from other residences and at least 10 feet from property lines, flammable structures such as wooden sheds, bushes, and trees.

-DON’T use flammable or non-porous, water-retaining building materials. Fire pits commonly consist of an inner wall, an outer wall, and decorative stones or rocks in the center of the pit.

The inner wall must be made of fireproof building materials, optimally fire brick; the outer walls should still be heat-resistant but can be made of traditional brick, stone, masonry blocks, concrete pavers, or even heat-resistant outdoor stucco or tile.

Flagstone and crushed stone are ideal materials for the fire pit cap, and the stones in the center of the pit, respectively.

-DO consider accessibility when choosing a fire pit size. Local ordinances permitting, your fire pit should ideally measure between 36 and 44 inches wide to accommodate multiple people around it while maintaining an intimate setting.

Aim for a fire pit height of 12 to 14 inches from the base of the walls to the top of the walls if you want guests to be able to prop their feet on it while seated around it on standard 18-inch-tall dining-height patio chairs.

Increase the pit height to 18 to 20 inches tall if you want to be able to comfortably sit directly on the edge of the pit.

-DO consider fuel supply equipment and emissions when determining fuel type. Ethanol, propane, and natural gas are all sound fire pit fuel options as they emit no smoke, sparks, or embers, and leave no ashes to clean up.

Ethanol, the cleanest of all fuel types (it additionally burns without odor), must be supplied via an ethanol tank or tray and propane-fueled pits require a connection to a liquid propane tank.

While wood-burning fire pits require no gas lines, they kick up a high volume of smoke, sparks, and embers; call for frequent ash removal and make large flames difficult to extinguish.

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Supplies List To Build Your Fire Pit

  • (48) 10.25″ x 7″ tumbled concrete wall blocks

  • (48) 3.5″ x 7″ mini tumbled concrete wall blocks

  • (6) bags of crushed stones

Tools To Build Your Own Fire Pit

Garden Hoe, Shovel, and Weed Killer

The Off-Grid Fire Pit Making Steps

Building a fire pit is a do-it-yourself project that can be configured for your yard’s measurements. Choose a flat and level location away from your house, any low-hanging trees or other structures. Mark off the space and lay a border.

Create a Foundation. Create the first tier of the fire pit by forming a circle, alternating the large and mini bricks to create a pattern. Using a level, make sure the bricks are relatively even all the way around. If the circle is more than an inch or two uneven, remove the higher bricks and dig out the dirt underneath until they’re level with the rest.

It’s important for the first level to be as even as possible to create a sturdy base.

-Build Sides. Begin the next layer by alternating the large and small bricks again, this time placing the small bricks on top of and in the middle of a larger brick to continue the pattern.

-Keep Fire Pit Level. During the assembling process, step back from time to time and make sure the fire pit wall is even. Adjust as necessary to keep it symmetrical and level.

Clear Around Perimeter. Using a hoe and a shovel, clear out a 2-inch area around the perimeter of the fire pit. Apply a weed killer to cut back on weeds growing up around your new fire pit.

-Add Crushed Stones. In the newly cleared area, pour crushed stones evenly around the perimeter. The addition of the crushed stones will give the fire pit a nice finished look and help keep the bottom layer of bricks from shifting.

Finish off your fire pit project by spreading the remaining crushed stone in the bottom of the pit to help with drainage and to reduce weed growth.

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Recommendations

Create a seating area with resin Adirondack chairs which are virtually maintenance-free and, with the addition of outdoor pillows and blankets, will make the area feel comfortable and cozy. Enjoy your priceless spot!