A fire pit is much like an elaborate version of the rock ring you made for a campfire as a child. They can be permanent or portable. The cost for a stone or brick pit varies depending on design, but a portable metal dish on a stand can be found for as little as £50
If you opt for a permanent pit, consider making it at least 24 inches in diameter, but 36 inches is better, giving you more room to build a good fire. As an inexpensive alternative to a custom-built pit, consider using a 24-inch-long section of large concrete pipe. Flip it up on end, and sink it partially in the ground. To find a concrete pipe supplier,
An outdoor fireplace is just like one inside. You have a firebox, chimney, flue, and hearth. Because they are constructed just like an indoor fireplace, they often must meet local regulations. And, unlike portable fire pits and chimineas, you can build outdoor fireplaces into a wood deck. (Check with your local building official and fire department about any codes governing outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, or chimineas.)
A full-blown outdoor fireplace is the most permanent and expensive option. They can cost from £2000 for a prefabricated unit and surround to £5000 or more for masonry. Because they are the most expensive option, these structures are often designed to complement the architecture of a new house or addition.
Until recently, the only option for an outdoor fireplace was masonry. But as popularity grew, companies such as Heat-N-Glo started offering less costly prefabricated outdoor fireplaces. With durable stainless steel parts, they stand up to the elements. The structures are available as wood- or gas-burning. Prices for the firebox start at around £1,500, not including the surround, chimney, or any site work.
A chiminea is perhaps the original outdoor fireplace. Traditional versions are manufactured from clay, like a pot, and can be very fragile; newer types are made from metal or iron. Chimneas often come in two components: the base or bowl where the fire goes and the neck or chimney. Because they have a small chimney, smoke is directed upward and out of your face. Once a staple of quirky roadside pottery shops, chimineas can now be found at garden shops, home-improvement warehouses, or online at Web sites such as www.outdoorfireplaces.com. Basic chiminea models begin at around £80.
Before burning your first fire, insulate the bowl with 3 to 4 inches of sand or fine gravel. For clay chimineas, burn small fires the first five times you use it to keep it from cracking. If you live in a colder climate, store it in a garage or other protected place for the winter. Metal or iron chimineas can be left outside year-round, but one warning if you're opting for this style: Don't purchase a circular metal version with mesh sides and a solid top and bottom. Although the smoke escapes from the sides, the solid top and mesh sides get extremely hot.