You’ve built a life in your current home, and you don’t want to have to leave it as you get older. More than three-quarters of adults over the age of 50 have said that they’d like to stay in their homes as they get older rather than move to a new residence or an older-adult community. If your home has more than one story, getting up and down stairs can become challenging due to physical changes that occasionally accompany getting older. Fortunately, you have options if you hope to remain at home for as long as possible.
One option is to have a residential elevator installed in your home. A residential elevator will help you get from floor to floor with ease if climbing the stairs becomes difficult. An elevator is also much more attractive than other mobility assistance options and can help to increase the value of your home. Even if retirement and old age are years in the future, installing a home elevator now can offer many benefits. An elevator will make it easy to bring heavy items from one floor to the next. If people visit your home who have limited mobility, they will be able to take a tour and move from room to room and floor to floor with ease.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to get an elevator installed at home, knowing what happens in an elevator installation process and how long it will take can help you plan your next remodeling or renovation project to fit into your life and schedule.
How Is a Home Elevator Installed?
The process of installing a home elevator can vary based on a few factors, such as the design of the home and the preferences of the homeowner. The installation also depends on the age of the home. If you’re building a new home from scratch, you can incorporate an elevator into the blueprints and install it as part of the build. An older or existing home can be retrofitted to allow a residential elevator to be installed.
Depending on the age and style of your current home, it might have been designed so it would be easy to install an elevator later on. Some home builders and architects stack closets, meaning that closets are built directly on top of each other on each floor of the home. The closets usually match the size of a standard residential elevator shaft. They also contain lights, outlets and other appropriate connections and temporary flooring.
If your home wasn’t built in a way that easily allows for an elevator installation, later on, don’t worry. If you work with Residential Elevators, one of our trained representatives will listen to your specific needs and help customize an elevator that will work in your home. We’ll work with you to help you find the location in your home that’s just right for an elevator.
Choosing the Type of Elevator
The style and size of your home influences the elevator that is right for you. Residential Elevators offers two types of elevators for home use — traction and hydraulic. The type that’s best for your home depends on your location, overhead clearance available and space available in your home.
Our traction elevators are designed to be space-saving, as they don’t need a machine room. Although designed for home use, traction elevators use the same technology as elevators found in commercial buildings. One of the most notable benefits of a traction elevator is that it operates quietly and smoothly. The system uses steel belts or ropes to lift the cab from floor to floor. Residential traction elevators are incredibly energy-efficient, smooth-running and easy to maintain.
A hydraulic elevator does require a separate machine room when installed in your home. The machine room houses the equipment needed to operate the elevator and to ensure a smooth, gentle ride up and down. Although the room is separate, it doesn’t have to be very large or to take up a considerable amount of space in the home.
Residential hydraulic elevators are built to the same criteria and specifications used in commercial elevators but at a fraction of the size. While a hydraulic elevator requires space for a separate machine room, it also has a smaller vertical footprint than a traction elevator, making it a better option for homes without high ceilings.
Designing the Cab of the Elevator
After you and your home elevator company have chosen the type of elevator that’s right for your home, the next phase of the process is to work on designing the cab. Residential Elevators has an online cab-builder that lets you choose from a range of different cab styles as well as different interior finishes, ceiling options, handrail styles, gate styles and fixture layouts. Whether you want a cab that’s sleek and modern or rustic and homey, you’ll get a sense of how the cab will look before the elevator is installed in your home.
Pre-Installation Checklist for a Residential Elevator
Now for the technical part. A contractor needs to do or confirm a few things before they can install your home elevator. The minimum requirements for work to begin are similar but somewhat different depending on whether you’re going with a traction or hydraulic elevator. Different states also have different code requirements. We’ll work with you to make sure your home elevator meets the codes and expectations of your local jurisdiction.
- Hoistway and layout: For both hydraulic and traction elevators, the hoistway needs to be square and plumb, clear, dry and clean inside. A sales representative can review the required dimensions with you to make sure the hoistway is up-to-code.
- Woodframe blocking: Pre-installation wood-frame blocking requirements are the same for hydraulic and traction elevations. There need to be 2-by-12-inch pine studs running up and down the entire hoistway, spaced 12 inches from the centerline of the rail wall. The wood needs to be attached to wall supports using 3/8-by-2.5-inch lag bolts. Horizontal support is required every 12 vertical feet.
- Minimum pit: A minimum pit of 8 inches is needed for both types of elevators. For traction elevators, the pit needs to be able to withstand a 5,100-pound load. The load requirement for a hydraulic elevator is 3,900 pounds.
- Machine room: If you’re going to have a hydraulic elevator installed, a machine room will need to be created. Ideally, the room is at the lowest level, next to the elevator. It needs to measure at least 4-feet-by-4-feet. It should also be located above a flood zone, if necessary, but preferably not in the attic. The machine room can be located remotely, but doing so will require additional pipe.
- Removing the ceiling or floor: The contractor will need to create an opening between floors for the elevator to pass through. If the architect designed the house with stacked closets and temporary flooring between them, the process might be simple. If the floors and ceilings are more substantial, this phase of the process can take longer but is still very doable.
Some electrical and telecommunications requirements must be met before an elevator is installed in your home. The main power to the elevator should be from a 240-volt, 30-amp dedicated service with ground and from a 120-volt, 20-amp service, both in a 4-by-4 electrical box. The 240-volt feeds black, red, white and ground wire into the machine space. A licensed electrician who fully understands what’s needed should install the electrical requirements.
Additional electrical power might be required if a power swing door is installed on the elevator. Additionally, the elevator needs to have one GFI receptacle, a dedicated light fixture with switch and bulb guard and an active telephone line installed overhead in the hoistway or attic.
The Arrival of the Elevator
It’s important to have a safe, dedicated space cleared for the elevator before it arrives for installation. Either you or your contractor should create a 10-by-15-foot area on the ground level. There should be a clear path between the space and the hoistway for the elevator.
How Long Does a Home Elevator Installation Take?
How long the installation process takes depends on a multitude of factors, some of which you can control as the homeowner and some of which you can’t. One factor that influences the duration of your project is the design and layout of your current home. If your home was designed to accommodate the future addition of an elevator, less preparatory work will need to be done before the elevator arrives.
For example, homes built with stacked closest also usually have temporary flooring installed in the closets, to allow for the addition of an elevator later. The closets are also usually sized to be the appropriate dimensions for an elevator hoistway.
Communication is another factor that can affect how long the installation process takes. The general contractor, homeowner and elevator company should maintain open lines of communication with each other to minimize the risk of delays. For example, the contractor can give both the homeowner and elevator company a timeline for when specific tasks will be completed. The elevator company can use the timeline to determine the best day to deliver the elevator for installation and the best day to have the installation crew come out to the home to install it.
Another factor to consider when it comes to the installation timeline is how long it will take for the elevator company to construct the elevator itself. Your elevator cab will be designed and built to your specifications. It can take several weeks before your elevator is ready to be shipped to your home. If you’re having a contractor build a shaft and hoistway from scratch, you should have plenty of time for them to do so while the elevator itself is being built.
When you schedule a consultation with a representative from Residential Elevators, we’ll give you a schedule estimate for your project, based on your home’s layout and your specific needs. We handle everything from design and manufacturing to installation so the process is as smooth as possible for you. In many cases, we can install a home elevator in two or three days.
What Are the Installation Dimensions?
The installation dimensions needed for a home elevator depend on the size of the elevator, the type of elevator and the type of gate, as well as the hoistway plan. Residential Elevators has seven standard hoistway plans for both traction and hydraulic elevators, but we can customize a solution for your home.
For a 12-square-foot elevator cab, the hoistway typically measures 52 inches by 57 inches. A 60-inch-by-60-inch hoistway can accommodate a 15-square-foot cab. Larger hoistways can also accommodate elevators with two or more gates.
When calculating the dimensions for an elevator, you need to keep some safety considerations in mind. ASME A17.1-2016 code, Section 22.214.171.124.2 specifies the distance that can be between the gate and the sill and between the gate and door of the elevator. There can’t be more than 3/4 inch between the sill and gate. The gate needs to be 4 inches or less from the landing door that faces the hoistway.
Keep in mind that while some states stick to ASME requirements, others have their own codes, which might be stricter. Residential Elevators adheres to all local codes during elevator installation.
Where Should You Install Your Residential Elevator?
Where in your home does it make the most sense to install your elevator? Again, it all depends on the design of your home. If the architect who built your house designed it with stacked closets, then transforming those closets into a hoistway can be the most cost-effective and time-efficient option. If you don’t have stacked closets in your home, there are other possible locations for your elevator.
Some homeowners decide to build a hoistway and shaft for a residential elevator next to their stairs. If your stairs are next to large, empty landing spaces, there might be plenty of room by them for a new elevator. Another option is to have the shaftway built in an area of your home that has ample open space. There might be room in your foyer for an elevator, provided there is enough space in the hallways or rooms above it.
The location of your elevator might influence the cab dimensions you end up choosing. At Residential Elevators, we will help you determine the best place for an elevator in your home.
Residential Elevators Can Turn Your Home Elevator Dreams Into Reality
A home elevator adds value to your property and can help make your home easier to navigate for you and other family members. Whatever your reasons for wanting to install an elevator, Residential Elevators is here to help you through the process. We’ll guide you through every step of the design and installation process. When you’re still in the initial planning phases, one of our representatives can visit you at your home and help you decide where the best location is for your new elevator and what features will help your elevator best meet your needs now and in the future.
Contact us today to schedule an in-home appointment, and get ready to make your home more comfortable and convenient.