Check out the latest Home Design magazine featuring RESiLIFT®. Here’s the article originally published in Home Design Spring 2018.
Why should homeowners consider a home elevator?
Initially associated with the aging population, residential elevators are fast becoming a lifestyle inclusion for all multi level homes. As souring land prices force developers upwards, elevators prove a safer alternative to stairs.
Residential lifts are now replacing the dumb waiters being installed to take groceries from the garage to the pantry and laundry chutes previously included in luxury homes. Many people use their elevators for commuting items that are difficult on stairs such as luggage and furniture. Some use them for their sick/older pets, although this is rarely the primary reason for installation.
Many people do not want to purchase double storey homes but with land prices cannot afford to have single storey, so installing an elevator resolves that problem.
Who benefits from installing a home elevator?
Nowadays architects will typically suggest at least a provision for a future lift in new build designs. There are also a number of lifts that can be installed for existing homes, such as the RESiLIFT®.
It is not just the homeowner who benefits. Because people do not have to move home, they retain their family memories and community connections. It is much harder for older people to re-establish friendships in a new area than continue in their current neighbourhood. Installing a lift allows people with mobility issues to age in place and to enjoy the benefits of double storey living.
Peter van Emmerik, the designer of RESiLIFT®, says that “often people who install lifts are fully capable, but want to future-proof their home, but when you get to know them, they have a relative or a friend who is struggling on the stairs and they want that person to be able to visit freely”.
The trend towards reverse living, where the main living areas are upstairs, is another reason why people are including elevators. The upper level has better views so why limit it to bedrooms. When the kitchen and lounge are upstairs, you don’t want to leave anyone on the lower level just because stairs are a challenge.
In retro-fit situations, the addition of an elevator often creates internal access. Many homes built in 1960s and 70s have the garage underneath, with only external stairs into the home. By adding a ResiLift from the garage, the homeowner no longer needs to climb stairs in the dark or the rain to get inside. This adds real value to the property and makes it safer for everyone.
Often customers may have arthritis or replacement knees. They function perfectly well until it comes to the stairs.
First time enquiries often assume if they are going to have an elevator it will be for people in wheelchairs, but most people with mobility issues will not become wheelchair bound. Not all homes are able to fit a wheelchair sized lift and not all residential elevators are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair. If people want to cater for wheelchair access in their home, they will need to make other adjustments such as the width of door and hallways and bathroom and kitchen design.
The RESiLIFT® is fully made in Australia so purchasing a RESiLIFT® benefits all Australians by employing Australian workers and using Australian products. The other advantage to consumers is that there are no risks of not being able to get replacement parts. Because it is made in Australia, RESiLIFT® is able to be customised to fit in tight spaces.
Depending on the elevator chosen, the cost of a residential lift can be cheaper than paying for another home with its consequent legal, loan and stamp duty fees. The homeowner can stay in their home where they know their neighbours, have back-up facilities and have developed their own living style. The Residential Lift Company’s five lift models, suit most places and only take up a small amount of room (less than a square meter). The clear sides allow the RESiLIFT® to blend in with the decor of the home so that it can be incorporated into existing living spaces
What types of elevators are available to homeowners?
There are different types of elevators: hydraulic, electric, vacuum. Each have advantages and disadvantages. The more elaborate models are small commercial style lifts with all the features you expect in a motel lobby.
The beauty of the RESiLIFT® is in its simplicity. The RESiLIFT® was invented specifically for the residential market. Rather than taking a small bedroom of space, the RESiLIFT® has a minimal visual impact so can be placed almost anywhere in the home and still blend into your existing décor. The Residential Lift Company offer 3 different models of RESiLIFT®. All allow for 2 people and 200 kgs capacity. The smallest, the Mirage is only 700mm front to back. There are larger models to accommodate a walker and wheelchair, which come with one or two entrances depending on if someone needs to exit in a different direction.
Being electric, the RESiLIFT® is quiet and very reliable. RESiLIFT® runs off the standard domestic power which keeps its cost effective to install and to operate.
How cost effective is it?
Installing a RESiLIFT® is significantly cheaper than moving house considering agent fees and stamp duty. The RESiLIFT® is the most cost-effective home elevator on the market. Apart from its entry level price tag, the building works required are also minimal. It is possible for customers to have a RESiLIFT® fully installed for under $30,000 including building modifications.
What do homeowners need to know before installing a home elevator?
When a lift is being installed in an existing home, the trick is to find a location that makes sense on both levels. Ideally, this would be a central point so that the lift is also convenient to use in the future. The lift consultant can help with this.
Peter van Emmerik said “we try to find a few different potential locations so that the homeowner and the builder have some options. Many clients have installed RESiLIFT® in their hallway cupboard as it often lines up with another hallway upstairs”. One of the easiest locations for a RESiLIFT® is off the landing because it does not sacrifice any existing floor space.
The cost of building modifications can vary depending on the structure of the home and the specific location of the lift.
When choosing a residential elevator, you need to determine
- The basic specifications – the space it requires, load capacity, number of people, power supply, etc
- Their needs – what is the main reason they want a lift and what are the main things they expect to carry in it.
- The process and timing of installation
- Costs: the price for residential lifts varies from $27,000 – $80,000 plus the building works. When installed retrospectively, the building modifications can be as low as $3,000 for a through floor design to $40,000 for the larger, commercial style lifts.
- How long it will take to supply – some lifts can take up to 6 months from when you decide until it is installed, so this is not a decision to leave until it’s urgent. Being Australian made, RESiLIFT® can be installed within a few weeks, provided the builders are available to cut the penetration.
- What ongoing maintenance will be required and what is it likely to cost. RESiLIFT® claims to be virtually maintenance free. Some of the larger commercial style elevators require customers to sign into a maintenance contract of $2,000 per year.
A home elevator is a significant investment. Make sure you test drive the one you want before purchasing it.
Other interesting things you might like to know
The RESiLIFT® invented by Peter van Emmerik was the first of its kind. Specifically designed for installation in existing homes, RESiLIFT® is self-supporting with a very compact design requiring no lift shaft. Since then the concept has been copied by other manufacturers and it is now referred to as a “through floor” design. In the case of RESiLIFT®, the motor travels with the lift so no penetration is required in the upper ceiling.
Few lift companies will organise the building works. These are organised separately with builders. When asking for a quote, you need to also anticipate the cost of the building modifications.
Elevators cannot entirely replace staircases. There must be an alternative method of evacuation from the upper level. This could be an eternal staircase or, in a split level home it could be an upper level exit, but if possible it is better to retain internal stairs as well.
By law, all elevators need to be inspected annually.