Most prospective home buyers put a fireplace near the top of their wish lists. Recognizing this desire, builders are eager to provide a fireplace option, and the metal fireplace industry has promoted their product aggressively as a cheap and convenient way to do so. But sacrificing the quality and durability of masonry isn't the only way to get an affordable fireplace. Here are some examples of modestly priced but handsome masonry fireplaces and some tips on keeping the cost of real masonry competitive with that of metal boxes. The trick is to use labor effectively, saving steps that don't affect the fireplace's performance or appearance and concentrating craftsmanship where it will have the greatest visual impact. For instance: Use the module, reduce components, and limit the size. Maximizing the visual impact can be done if you: Let the material star, color the mortar, feature the joints, and alter the bond pattern. By exercising imagination and common sense, designers and masons can offer their clients the quality masonry fireplace they want at a price they can afford.