Tips For Building A Cheap And Safe Fire Pit In Your Yard

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Thomas Barrat

A fire pit is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors at night. It’s a fantastic use of outside space, and can even make the backyard usable in late fall, when you would otherwise find temperatures too chilly. Fire pits are great, but they can be quite costly when you want them built right. There are, however, ways you can build a safe fire pit that is both mesmerizing and inexpensive.

When you build a fire pit in your yard on a budget, make sure you first check local laws on outdoor fire features. Next, pick the perfect location, choose the size and aesthetic you desire, and look for cheap or free building materials. Dig a hole under the pit to create a solid foundation, and ensure the inner walls and foundation materials are all fireproof.

There are hundreds of fire pit designs you can choose from, and you can even create a brand new concept if your creative juices are flowing. The key is choosing the right type of fire pit that suits your needs, as well as a safe fire feature that fits all the legal requirements. If you are looking to build a cheap and safe fire pit, before you grab a shovel and dig a hole in your yard, you should first ask yourself a few questions.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Building A Cheap Fire Pit

What Are The Local Laws?

The most important question you need to ask yourself before building a fire pit is “What are the local laws and regulations about outdoor fire features?” This question is so critical, because it will likely dictate a lot about your fire pit, including its size and location.

What Type Of Entertaining Do I Want To Do Around The Fire Pit?

You also need to ask yourself what type of events you plan on having around the fire pit. Is this fire pit strictly for a casual ambience, or do you want to roast meat on it one day, or at least roast marshmallows? Your ambitions when it comes to this fire pit should be in your mind when you are considering the type of fire pit you want to build.

How Much Money Am I Willing To Spend?

You want to safely build a fire pit for cheap, but exactly how cheap? Know your budget, or at least a general price range you are willing to spend. This number will help guide you to the best materials for your budget. Furthermore, it can help you determine if you need to start looking for cheap or free materials sooner rather than later (this can take some time).

How Long Do I Want The Fire Pit To Last?

When you are building something on a tight budget, longevity often comes into play. It makes sense that high-quality materials are built to last. If you are looking for a fire pit that will last a year or two, you can use most fireproof materials.

If you want a fire pit to add value to your home and last a generation, then you need to choose specific materials. The effort and craftsmanship that goes into building your fire pit will also increase significantly if you want it to last a decade or longer.

7 Tips To Help You Build A Cheap And Safe Fire Pit In Your Yard

1. Look For Cheap Or Free Materials

The biggest (and often only) expense when it comes to building a fire pit is the materials. The good news is you can build a fire pit with all sorts of different materials, as long as they are fireproof. Best of all, many of these materials can be found for free or cheap. Some materials you can often find for free are bricks, large stones, and cement blocks. The more flexible you are on building materials, the more likely you are to get a great deal.

2. Read The Local Fire Laws And Guidelines

With wildfires becoming increasingly common, rules for outdoor fire features exist in nearly every community, and some are stricter than others. Make sure you thoroughly read the local laws carefully. This will help dictate where you put your fire pit, and how big it can be.

3. Research Different Building Methods Before You Dive In

There are tons of ways to build a fire pit. Look at some photos of unique DIY fire pit ideas to spark your imagination. Remember that thinking outside the box not only creates cool concepts but can potentially save you money as well.

4. Bigger Isn’t Always Better

If you want a cheap fire pit, don’t try and build a giant one. Larger fire pits are rarely ideal. For one, you aren’t going to have a massive fire, so there is no need to have a huge fire pit. Furthermore, a large fire pit will take away from the intimacy a fire pit offers. The ideal fire pit size, from edge to edge, is between 36 to 44 inches.

5. Choose The Best Location For Your Fire Pit

Choosing a location might sound easy, but it is a step you don’t want to rush. From a safety perspective, you want your fire pit away from the home, and also far from trees and shrubs. You also want to make sure you can access the fire pit easily. After all, if it is in a hard-to-reach spot, you likely won’t use it much.

6. Leave Plenty Of Space Around The Fire Pit For Seating

Make sure there is plenty of flat and cleared ground around the fire pit for guests to enjoy the area. You might want to even r emove grass around the fire pit and add gravel or some pavers (especially if you have extra). This can give the visual of an outdoor living space and make the area more comfortable.

7. Build A Solid Foundation For The Fire Pit

Lastly, you must think beyond aesthetics. Make sure you build the fire pit on a solid foundation. There are several ways to do this. Most commonly, you will dig a hole, and then add rocks or gravel. Next, it is common to place a row of fireproof bricks. This provides a stable, fireproof, and level floor for your fire pit. Always make sure your fire pit is stable and secure before you start using it.

Things To Avoid When Building A Fire Pit Yourself

Don’t Put Your Fire Pit In A Windy Spot

Some parts of your yard are likely windier than others. A fence, home, or even bushes can block winds, and also redirect them. Make sure you place your fire pit in an area that has some of the most predictable and least amount of wind. Placing a fire pit in a windy spot will make it more dangerous, and also make it a smokier and less pleasurable place to be.

Keep Your Fire Pit Away From Trees And Branches

There are almost always laws that dictate how far you must keep a fire pit from a home, but laws don’t always tell you how far they must be from a tree branch. Use your best judgment, and keep a fire pit away from any trees, big and small. If there are branches that are close by and above, consider trimming them for your safety.

Don’t Neglect Local Laws Or Neighborhood Rules

Make sure you thoroughly read and understand local laws and rules. You might have an HOA or community guidelines to read as well. Remember that there might be several unique sets of guidelines you need to comply with. Take your time and read these so you don’t get a fine and have to start from scratch.

Never Use Materials If You Aren’t Certain They Are Fireproof

Don’t assume a brick or metal is fireproof. This is particularly important when you are getting cheap materials to build your fire pit. Any materials in the foundation, lower level, or inner ring of the fire pit must be fireproof. If you can’t confirm this, don’t use the materials in these sections of the fire pit.

Summing Up Tips For Building A Fire Pit In Your Yard For Cheap

Building a fire pit in your backyard is a great idea. It can help you extend the amount of time you spend outdoors, and it creates a cozy and romantic ambience in your outdoor space. When built well, a fire pit can last for decades, and even add value to your home. If you want to build a safe fire pit cheaply, look for inexpensive or free building materials like concrete slabs, fireproof bricks, or large stones. Remember to build a fireproof foundation, and read your local laws and community guidelines on outdoor fire features to ensure your fire pit is compliant.

Related Guides:

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey