Tips for Installing an Elevator in Your Home

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By Jason Burgess

Domestic elevators maybe more common than you think. So too are the reasons for having one.

Why have an elevator in the home?

Three words: quality of life. As the global population ages, elevators (lifts,) in private spaces are becoming more prevalent. They provide an opportunity for people to remain safe and independent in their own homes, for longer. But lifts are not just for the aged or those with physical limitations. A majority of users choose residential lifts for convenience and ease of movement within the home. In this way, installing a domestic elevator in multi-storey houses or those spread over difficult sites, creates lifestyle flexibility and adds value to the property while future-proofing the home.

Where can lifts be used?

  • Inside the home
  • Outdoors for conveyance on steep sites
  • To provide access from path or driveway to the front door
  • To provide internal access to garages

Every house will have different lift requirements depending on the layout; the purpose of the lift, the number of people who travel in it and the mobility of said travellers. An elevator will be a major addition to any home. Some units can be built-in and concealed behind walls, or within external shafts. Others will be more prominent within the home. Ideally, an elevator should complement the décor and not take centre stage. Scenic or ‘glass’ lift cabs blend best with interiors, allowing the décor to be seen at all times. Outdoors elevators will be governed both by the contours of the site and environmental conditions.

glass lift in a house

Key things to consider before installing a lift

  • Who will be using the lift?  Is mobility an issue?
  • How many floors are there?
  • How much space is there in the home? How much headroom and pit depth is available? Is there room enough to build or accommodate a lift shaft and or machine room?
  • Access to and from the elevator. Are double doors (one at each end of the lift) a requirement?
  • Weight limitations. Safety features and reliability. Cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency of different elevator types
  • Building regulations
  • Complementing home decor

Elevators are not a new thing. The Greek mathematician, Archimedes is generally credited with building the first known elevator, sometime around 236 BC! Ancient lifts relied on muscle power. They usually consisted of a platform or box that was drawn through open shafts by ropes over pulleys, driven by men or horses who turned a capstan. The same basic technology is found in cable drive elevators today.  

mobile lift in a house

What are the most common elevator types for the home?

  • There are two kinds of electronic hoists:  One uses an overhead motor and cable to raise the lift car. The other which has a motor located in a pit beneath the lift.
  • Hydraulic lifts pump oil through pipes either below or at the rear to power a ram to either raise or descend. Water powered hydraulic lifts, operate the same way using boosted water pressure.
  • Electronic screw hoists feature a large threaded rod to raise the lift.
  • Pneumatic elevators are relatively new, they use a vacuum tube to power the car up or down, they do not require a machine room or pit.
  • Electric stair climbers run along a geared rail attached to the side of the staircase.

Many companies offer bespoke elevators and can customize shapes, sizes and the interior to suit the home. Details from doors, walls, to ceiling and lighting can be personalised as can operating panels, handrails and phones. As with any aspect of a renovation, budget will play a significant part in choosing the right lift.

Get in touch with Refresh to discuss your home elevator solution.

Talk to a Refresh Renovation Specialist to find out the best way to incorporate an elevator into your home today.