Rise? Home elevators are on the rise | lifestyle

Ann McGee loves her home. If you saw it, you would understand it. Every room in the 2,800-square-foot Mediterranean-style home in Winter Park, Florida reflects her life, her many friendships, her rich memories. He loves his oasis terrace. He loves his neighbors and his community.

What she doesn’t love are her stairs.

At age 73, the retired college administrator who had one knee replaced found the master upstairs to be a bit of a pain—literally. She considered renovating and putting the bedroom downstairs, but that was too expensive. Even moving away from home after 15 years was not appealing.

When her niece showed her a magazine ad she had cut out that featured a modern-looking shaftless elevator powered by air pressure, McGee was intrigued. “It didn’t look like any home elevator I’d ever seen,” she said. “It looked like a work of art.

In addition, the installation did not involve tearing down walls or digging under the floor for foundations, as is required with traditional shaft lifts. Shaft elevators send cars through (minimum) 5-by-5-foot spaces in walls, while shaftless elevators sit in open floors. Their transparent cylinders transport passengers from floor to floor using air pressure or cables.

McGee talked to several elevator companies that sold pneumatic vacuum elevators, and in November she upgraded her own home with one.

“I like the look of it,” she said of the tube-shaped elevator that’s tucked right next to the staircase in her entryway. “I was worried it would ruin the aesthetics of my home, but it made it better.” McGee chose the color of the metal as well as the shade of the polycarbonate windows.

While she doesn’t use it every time she wants to go up or down, McGee, an avid traveler, definitely uses it for his luggage.

“Hips, knees, heart, back, lungs, in-laws, comfort,” rattles off Dawn O’Connor, owner of Daytona Elevator, of the reasons customers call her.

To that list, Rich Eller, owner of HomeLift, a Nashville-based elevator retailer, adds those people who “don’t move on the plane and need to get up.”

Due to demographics, demand for home elevators is growing rapidly, and shaftless models are the fastest-growing industry, he said.

Five years ago, shaftless elevators accounted for 6% of Eller’s home elevator installations. Last year, that percentage more than doubled. He expects 20% to 25% of home elevators to be shaftless by 2025.

“We have a population of people who want to age in place,” Eller said. “More people are realizing that installing an elevator or stairlift is much cheaper than moving. Builders and architects are realizing this is a growing market and are designing more homes with elevators in mind.”

“I love where I live and how I live,” McGee said. “I wanted to get more time in this house, and I did.

While not every home is a candidate for an elevator, if your home’s stairs are becoming a problem, here’s what to consider before you pack up and move.

• Solutions for every budget. If it’s not possible to create a bedroom on the ground floor, the elevator industry has many ways to get you up, O’Connor said. The cheapest option is a stair lift. A seat that travels directly up stairs typically costs between $3,500 and $4,000. If the staircase twists or turns, the cost of a stair lift can climb up to $15,000.

Pneumatic vacuum lifts cost from $35,000 to $60,000 depending on size. They come in three widths: 30 inches, 37 inches and 52 inches, the latter of which accommodates a wheelchair.

McGee paid $40,000 for her 37-inch elevator, which includes a reclining seat and telephone. PVEs are among the higher-end products, Eller said, adding that some shaftless elevators sell for as little as $28,000. Construction costs for upgrading the space are additional and vary depending on the work required.

• Build it in. The best time to install an elevator is when you are building a house. But adding one later might be easier than you think. Before you give up on the idea because you can’t see where you can install the lift, ask a professional. “A lot of times people think they don’t have anywhere to put a lift, then we find two or three options,” Eller said.

• Location, location, location. When finding the best location, start at the top to find where you’d like to get off, usually a landing or common area, and work your way down. Remember that you can enter one side of the elevator and exit the other side. Two cabinets stacked on top of each other are ideal for a traditional lift built into a shaft. These shafts can be inside the house or built into the exterior. A shaftless elevator is easier to fit into most homes.

• Looks matter. A traditional elevator entrance can really blend into the wood. It can imitate paneling or closet doors, so you won’t even know there’s an elevator.

However, as home elevators become more common and plastic, many are coming out of the closet.

• Value added. Most real estate agents agree that a well-executed home elevator adds value. “I feel like the elevator will allow you to tap into a whole new market,” McGee said.

Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books, including What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want. Reach her at marnijameson.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *