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Retrofitting a House Elevator: What to Know

Retrofitting a House Elevator: What to Know

House elevators are retrofit into existing construction for a number of reasons. In some cases, there is an immediate need to transport an individual with limited mobility. In other cases, an elevator is added to the home to provide ease of access or to assist in transporting bulky loads from floor to floor. A residential elevator may be installed to ensure the home will be a feasible place to live for years to come, in the case that assistance to accessibility is necessary.

When determining if a house elevator is the right fit for your existing home, there are a number of items you need to consider.

1.) Choosing the Best Location for Your Home Elevator

Starting in the mid 1990’s many home builders began including preplanned elevator hoistways in new construction. Areas may have been built with features like stacked closets to allow for the installation of a home elevator at a later date. Some homes even have small pantries or offices in this stacked formation, allowing for easy renovation to create the elevator hoistway.

If the hoistway was not preplanned, an appropriate location for an elevator is a location that is substantially unobstructed at all potential landings, as a new “room” will be added to each serviced floor. Typically this space will need to include 25 square feet of inside clear floor space. Some drive systems will require the addition of a machine room, so when planning the elevator’s location, it is best to talk to a local home elevator company.

2.) Home Elevator Power Requirements

The power requirements for a residential elevator are very similar to an electric range.  It is important that you verify that the requirements are met to ensure the elevator will run efficiently and effectively for years to come. Your local home elevator company can work with you to outline the specific electrical requirements for your application.

3.) Home Elevator Safety

Obviously, ensuring the safety of your family members and guests is a top priority. Home Elevator manufacturers are required to meet design criteria as established by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in ASME A17.1. The ASME elevator code encompasses design and installation of new equipment, maintenance, alteration and inspection, all with respect to the safety of elevators, escalators and related equipment.  Many elevator manufactures and installers will voluntarily join associations that help influence decisions made regarding safety codes and standards, regulatory authorities and others associated with accessibility equipment.  Membership in groups such ASME, AEMA, NAEC, and NAHB indicate that the elevator company you are working with is actively working to better the design and installation practices and provide a safer elevating experience.

4.) Insurance Implications

When installing a home elevator, it is a good idea to contact your insurance agent to discuss any potential impact to your homeowner’s policy. Whether a new build installation or adding to an existing structure, home elevators will increase what the insurance companies call the “replacement value” of the home. Quite simply, once an elevator is added there is more value in the home that will need to be replaced in the event of a total loss. Thus, liability coverage may be affected, and due diligence should be exercised to guarantee your home is properly insured.

5.) Marketability of the Home

The installation of a home elevator increases marketability of the home by making a specific house an option for a wider market of potential buyers. Whether a desire or a need; creating easy access to all levels provides an attractive option for future occupants. Whether the home is a forever home, or one intended to be marketed, an elevator is an appealing feature for future access.

How to Proceed In Your Home Elevator Planning

When working to build the elevator best suited to your individual application, you will want to work closely with a local home elevator company. They will be able to work through the process with you to make sure your home elevator is a beautiful, functional addition to your home.

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