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How to Retrofit a Home Elevator

how to retrofit a home elevator

Instead of climbing up the stairs, why not take the elevator? If you have limited mobility, installing an elevator in your home can make it easier for you to get from one floor to the next and can allow you to stay in your home longer. Adding an elevator to an existing home can also increase its property value. Here’s what you need to know about installing an elevator in an older home.

Benefits of a Home Elevator

A new lift system will improve the quality of your life by making it easier to move around the house. Some of the benefits of adding an elevator to your home include:

  • Extended livability: Instead of moving into a new house to accommodate your health or mobility, you can update your living space with an elevator. Retrofitting a lift system in your current residence lets you remain in your home for longer.
  • Enhanced convenience: Transporting heavy luggage, groceries and other items up stairs can be physically tiring. A home elevator allows you to access different floors without strenuous effort.
  • Simplified mobility: If you have limited mobility, you can travel throughout your house with ease when you have an elevator. Cabs can be made large enough to provide space for wheelchairs, and if someone in your family has weak knees or an aching back, they can move to each level with little effort using a lift system.
  • Increased resale value: Home elevators can attract more potential buyers. A residential lift system could help future homeowners stay in the house longer, without needing to make any accessibility renovations.

benefits of a home elevator

Can You Retrofit a Home for an Elevator?

Many people retrofit their current living space for elevators. Compact models are designed to take up a limited amount of space and are ideal for homes of all sizes. You can add a lift system to your floor plan by making space for the elevator cab and its electrical equipment. Additionally, architects often leave space in blueprints for homeowners to install an elevator in the future. If your home is relatively new, you may have room in your living space designated for a lift system. In older houses, an elevator can often be installed in the space previously occupied by closets.

can you retrofit a home for an elevator

Can You Add an Elevator to an Older Home?

Residential elevators became a popular amenity starting in the mid-1990s. For that reason, many houses built since that time have stacked closets, meaning each closet is directly above the one on the floor below. The arrangement of the closets makes it easier to retrofit the space to make room for a cab. Instead of closets, some homes might have stacked pantries or office space to provide a place for a hoistway.

You can add an elevator to a home built before the 1990s and without stacked closets. If the builder of your current property didn’t plan a designated space for a cab and hoistway in the construction design, you could create space. It’s generally accepted that 25 square feet of available floor space in an unblocked area of your dwelling is adequate for a home elevator. But some manufacturers can offer customized solutions for more limited space. Talk with a home installation expert to discover what’s possible in your house.

Can You Retrofit Your Closet for a Home Elevator?

Yes, you can retrofit a closet for a home elevator. Ideally, you would want to use rooms stacked from one floor to the other. To retrofit a system in the future, you should plan now by creating space in a small part of your property. You also need to have enough room for overhead clearance.

Factors to Consider Before Retrofitting for a Home Elevator

Before you retrofit your home for an elevator, here are some factors to consider to get the most out of your experience:

  • Your future in your house: Your current dwelling may become difficult to live in as you age, depending on the number of floors and stairs between each floor. If mobility becomes an issue as you age, a residential elevator lets you remain in your home instead of moving to a single-story residence. If your goal is to remain in your home for as long as possible, installing an elevator now can be a smart move.
  • Installation and construction time: Depending on the complexity of the project, the available space in your home and the installation option you choose, the timeline can vary. Typical industry installation processes can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  At Residential Elevators, our goal is to make the installation process as smooth and convenient for you as possible. That’s why, from start to finish, our installation process takes two to three days. We’ll work with you to help you choose the time for your project that works best with your schedule.
  • Space: You can put a new elevator anywhere that’s convenient for your floor plan. Many homeowners use stacked closets to allow vertical transportation from one level to the other. Residential Elevators can help you evaluate the space in your home to determine the most appropriate location for your new elevator.
  • Electrical needs: You should also consider the electrical requirements of installing an elevator in your home. As home elevator installation experts, our team at Residential Elevators is well-versed in the code requirements in your area.
  • Budget: Create a budget for your elevator installation before the project begins. We can help you choose the elevator that will work best with your budget while still meeting your mobility needs.
  • Resale value: A home elevator can increase the worth of your house. If you plan on moving in the future, an elevator can be an attractive amenity to potential buyers. Homebuyers often prefer a move-in ready dwelling over one that needs work. Installing a residential elevator can make your property stand out on the market.
  • Your family’s current and future needs: Your house should help you and all those who visit. Think about your family and the people who use your living space each day. Do you have loved ones with medical conditions? A home elevator can make it easier for those loved ones to move around and feel safe in your dwelling.

factors to consider before home elevator installation

Safety Regulations

Home elevators must follow local safety regulations. Residential elevators are governed by code and can only have a max of 15 square feet of interior space. Our residential lifts exceed the safety and installation requirements of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

To install a home elevator, contractors and elevator companies need to follow all the safety rules. Here at Residential Elevators, we are members of the ASME committee and sit in on discussions to make recommendations for code revisions. We are well-versed in the requirements in your area. We adhere to code requirements today and are ready to adhere tomorrow.

home elevator safety regulations

How to Choose the Best Location for a Home Elevator

Residential Elevators can help you choose the best spot in your home for the elevator. Ideally, your elevator will be in an area that allows you to access each room in your house with ease.

Where Is the Best Location for a Home Elevator?

You can choose the ideal place to install your home elevator based on what parts of the house you want to access. You need enough space for the cab, hoistway and electrical equipment, so the system doesn’t take away from the rest of the home. Manufacturer Representatives are experts and can advise you on potential location options in the context of your home. At Residential Elevators, we pride ourselves on offering custom solutions to unique needs.

how to choose best location for home elevator

Here are some popular location options:

  • From the garage or basement to the living area: If you have to climb stairs to bring groceries or other heavy objects into the home, install your home elevator in the garage. You could walk out of the cab and place the heavy bags right in your kitchen.
  • From the living area to upper-level bedrooms: A home elevator in the living room can bring you up to the bedrooms on the upper stories. Installing a lift system is more convenient than adjusting your floor plan to put the master bedroom on the main level.

If you have a basement and a second floor, your elevator could transport you throughout the whole house. For a more economical option, you might opt to limit the number of stories your residential lift can access.

how to complete the retrofit

How to Retrofit a Home Elevator

Here’s what you can generally expect to happen when you install an elevator in your home.

1. Choose the Type of Home Elevator

Residential Elevators installs two types of elevators in homes — hydraulic and traction. Here’s a review of each option to see which one might work best in your residence:

  • Hydraulic elevators: A hydraulic lift model is often best suited for homes with limited space overhead as it has low overhead clearance requirements — 96 to 108 inches, depending on the cab height. Hydraulic elevators do require a separate machine room, which is a factor to consider when deciding which type of elevator is best suited for your home.
  • Traction elevators: Residential Elevators was the first company to develop a traction elevator for home use. Traction elevators don’t need a machine room but do require more overhead clearance than hydraulic lifts. They are ideal for homes on the coast, as the equipment is installed away from the floodplain.

Both elevator options travel up to 50 feet and at a maximum speed of 40 feet per minute. They have a capacity of 950 pounds.

2. Design Your Home Elevator Cab

The cab is the part of the elevator that transports you from one place to the other. The interior of the cab can match the rest of your home’s style. You can choose a simplistic, coastal, traditional, modern or custom design for your home elevator.

Here are some of the items to consider when designing your home elevator cab:

  • Series: We produce several design series to coordinate with your tastes and the style of your home. Options include Shaker, modern farmhouse, vintage and stainless steel.
  • Finishes: Your homes’ elevator can be finished with rich wood panels, modern white laminate or ultra-sleek stainless steel.
  • Lights: Ceiling lights illuminate the interior of the elevators. Customize the type and number of lights you would like to add to your unit. You can also choose how you want your ceiling to look.
  • Handrails: Handrails or support bars give you something to hold onto during your ride. You can choose the color, material, shape and size of your handrail to complement your elevator’s design.
  • Fixtures: You can also design the look of the buttons on your home elevator. Manual buttons or a touch screen are options to control your elevator with many color options available.
  • Gates: The gate is what opens and closes to protect you while the elevator is in motion. Most home elevators have an accordion gate or a scissor gate option, while the latest features include three-speed doors. These automatic doors use a magnetic safety latch and a metal cover plate to open and close the elevator and landing side doors.
  • Safety features: For extra protection in your elevator, you can add more safety features. An infrared protective screen can give you peace of mind as you use your elevator. The protective curtain momentarily stops the cab if it detects an object near the entrance. A mirror in your elevator can make your lift look bigger.

3. Call a Professional

Residential Elevator’s professional Manufacturers Representatives can give you advice about the location and design of your home elevator. We’ve installed tens of thousands of elevators in homes across the U.S. and are ready to take on your project. Trust an expert to give you the information you need to get the most out of your home elevator.

How Long Will the Project Take and What Are the Costs?

The retrofitting process depends on the current layout of your home and the customization of your design. The following factors may also affect the cost of your home elevator installation. You can trust that at the end of the project, you will have a safe, dependable lift system for your property.

Factors That Affect the Timeline of a Home Elevator Installation

At Residential Elevators, we strive for a smooth and convenient installation process for your elevator. These factors contribute to the length of time it takes to set up your lift system:

  • The type of home elevator: Hydraulic elevators require a separate machine room, so depending on the set up of your home, selecting this option might require additional installation steps. We pride ourselves on a quality and safe installation process regardless of the type of elevator you choose.
  • The age and design of the house: In some homes, the installers might need to carve out a dedicated space for the elevator. Stacked closets could streamline the process since the builder has a clean space to work. When working with contracting or construction companies, homeowners can be subject to extended timelines. At Residential Elevators, our authorized dealers and employees control the process every step of the way.

factors that affect cost

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Home Elevator Installation

How much does it costs to install an elevator in your home depends on a few factors. Here are some things that influence the overall cost:

  • The number of floors you have: Your property may only need an elevator from the main level to a second floor. Adding more floors to your elevator installation does not drastically increase the price that others may tell you.
  • The customization of your cab: The materials you choose for your lift can affect the price. Working with our trained Manufacturers Representatives we can usually create a system within your budget.
  • The labor costs: Your local elevator manufacturer will typically install your system’s equipment for you. They want to set up their products to comply with state safety regulations. When discussing options with your Manufacturers Representative, be sure to ask what labor costs are included in the final price.
  • Direct or Middle Man?: Always ask if you are buying your home elevator direct from the manufacturer or through a middle man. While not all manufacturers install their own home elevators, know that dealing with Residential Elevators you are working our direct employee throughout your elevator project. For those markets that we do not service directly we have a specific select group of dealers who we have trained and authorized to sell and install our products. Dealing with a middle man can have a total cost of ownership impact to the life of your elevator.

You can add a maintenance service plan on your home elevator after the installation process. Inspecting your elevator regularly is essential for its continued safe operation. Choose a plan that guarantees your replacement parts and maintenance calls to your elevator manufacturer.

work with home elevator experts

Work With Us to Retrofit Your Home

Residential Elevators offers high-quality hydraulic and traction home lift systems. Make your home more convenient with a home elevator. We manufacture and install residential elevators throughout the country.

Our reliable elevators are manufactured in the United States. If you’re ready to retrofit your home for an elevator, contact us today by filling out a contact form online or calling us at 800.832.2004.

Residential Elevators was recently featured in USA Today Home Magazine.Learn More!