A Rising Trend: Home Elevators
An elevator in a personal home has been viewed as a luxury for years. However, more buyers — ranging from families with young children to those with temporary or permanent disabilities — now want a platform that can move people and things from one level of a home to another.
Home elevators have become popular again with universal design, which is a method of constructing living spaces that are safer, easier, and more convenient for everyone.
Generally speaking, there are three different elevator types.
• Hydraulic: This system takes up a lot of space and requires a machine room to hold the mechanics of the lift. This elevator is easier to install in a new home, where it can be part of a plan, rather than in a retrofit.
• Traction: Also called an MRL (machine room-less) elevator. As the name implies, it does not require a separate machine room. This elevator slides up and down a track with a counterweight. However, it does require space on top of the shaft to house the machinery.
• Pneumatic: A polycarbonate tube with a separate internal tube uses air pressure to move the car up and down; it’s similar to tubes used for check deposits at banks. Outer tube diameters range from 30 inches to 52 inches. The tube can be installed without a shaft or a machinery room, making it ideal for a retrofit. At the very least, the home will require an opening that’s slightly wider than the tubes to get them inside, though home owners can gain some maneuvering room by temporarily removing the tube door.
Standard hydraulic and traction lifts are substantially more expensive than their pneumatic counterparts, which cost $23,000 to $57,000 including installation. But these conventional lifts remain popular because the pneumatic variety is newer and remains less well-known.
The cost of a standard elevator will depend on whether you are including it in new construction plans or if you are retrofitting an existing space. Adding an elevator to an existing home means the home owner will have either to use existing square footage or to build a shaft on the home’s exterior. Home owners will need to request special permission to add an exterior elevator shaft to an existing home in an historic district if the shaft can be seen from the street. If home owners are building or remodeling their home and would eventually like an elevator someday, they may consider constructing the shaft now (perhaps in the form of a set of closets, one on top of the other) to save time and money later.
Setting aside labor costs, the actual elevator can run $17,500 to $35,000 or more, which includes the expenses of moving electrical wires, outlets, HVAC, plumbing, as well as building the steel framework, installing wall panels and applying finishes. For buyers looking at an existing home with an elevator, an inspector from the company that manufactured the elevator may be available to service the device.