A few years ago, home elevators were considered luxury items to be found only in multi-million dollar homes. Today, home elevators can be found in all types of homes as pricing has come down and people are planning for their futures. People with disabilities, balance problems, difficulty negotiating stairs due to aging or physical problems, elderly people and more are utilizing home elevators to be able to enjoy every level of their home.
Today most multi-million dollar homes have elevators. In fact, home elevators are often expected by home buyers in luxury houses and are becoming more standard in average homes.
The cost of installing a home elevator depends on whether or not the elevator is being installed as part of new construction, or retrofitted into an existing home. For those unsure of whether or not they need a home elevator, general contractors or architects can build framing for an elevator into the current design of the home, so that installing an elevator at a later point won’t be as expensive. Retrofitting is the more expensive option, as areas generally have to be gutted in order to install an elevator, electrical worked into existing frameworks and housing built for motors and back-up batteries. Costs vary from the low end of $10,000 up to six figures depending on the details and types of materials used.
Builders always say building up is cheaper than building out. The footprint of a home increases if the home is a sprawling single-story dwelling vs. a two or three story dwelling. With the ability to build two or three stories, costs decrease as fewer acres are needed for the construction. Elevators allow families to grow old in their home with convenience and comfort.
Elevators can be constructed from just about any type of material. Instead of the metaelevators seen at most businesses, home elevators can be made with glass, various types of wood including mahogany, oak or pine, with stain to match existing interiors. Copper can be used, stained glass. With a little imagination, anything is possible.
The interior can also be decorated to match the details and design of the home. Artwork, crown molding, plush carpeting or tiles can all customize the elevator. Original works of art can be painted on the walls or ceilings. Lighting is important for nighttime usage, but lighting can also be customized so there are no fluorescent bulbs glaring down. Any type of music can play in the elevator to create an entire experience.
Most elevators are built in the core of the home for ease traveling from floor to floor. Closet doors can be used to conceal the elevator and can be set off the side of the front hallway. Thought should be given to how many floors the elevator will span. Most home elevators cover the first and second floors. Does it need to be accessible from the garage? Should the basement floor or attic be included?
Building permits are necessary to have elevators installed. An architect and builder should be consulted to ensure that supporting beams are not weakened or removed during installation. Most cities have building codes having to do with elevators to ensure their safe installation and operation.
Types of Elevators
Elevators vary by size and weight allotted. Standard sizes are 36 x 48, 36 x 60, 40 x 54, and 42 x 60 and can carry between approximately 500 and 1,500 pounds of weight. Consider the purpose of the elevator. Will it be only used for transporting people or will it be used to move furniture and appliances?
There are three basic types of elevators on the market: hydraulic, winding drum and the vacuum elevator.
The hydraulic elevator utilizes oil that pumps in and out of cylinder. The car is lifted up and let down from above and uses gravity for lowering the car. These types of elevators tend to be quieter than the winding drum elevators.
Winding drum elevators use cables that are wound and unwound to lift and lower the elevator car. They are noisier than other systems and can be harder to repair as the motor lives above the elevator.
The self supporting vacuum elevator available at http://daytonaelevator.com is built using aluminum and polycarbonate. There are less options for customizing the elevator, but it is one of the most cost effective options. This cylindrical device looks like something out of a space age movie, and uses air pressure to lift and lower the elevator. “Unlike previous elevators, the new lift is completely self-supporting, extremely light, has a footprint of just one square meter and requires no excavating pit or hoistway, it can be fitted to almost any two or three storey building at a fraction of the cost of a normal elevator,” according to Gizmag.com. This option only has a weight capacity of 450 lbs. Starting and stopping are smooth.
With both the hydraulic and drum elevator, back up batteries are required in case of a power outage. With the vacuum elevator, in case of a power outage the descending car stops and locks on the next floor.
Consider where you want the controls to operate the elevator. For those in families with wheelchairs or with small children, having controls placed at a lower level will allow more people to utilize the elevator independently.
Most people who install home elevators end up using them more than they ever expected. From juggling groceries, small children and luggage up stairs, they now ride in convenience and without the physical strain. Home elevators not only add convenience to a home, they also help the resale value and expand the market of buyers. While retirees used to look at ranch-style homes for retirement, their options are no longer as limited. While building a home with an elevator is less expensive than retrofitting a home, installing an elevator is a much less expensive option than moving into a new home to accommodate elderly family members, disabilities or just sore joints. In the future we may see home elevators in every dual level home.