Including a lift in your plans can futureproof a new home to address later potential mobility issues and can be a glamorous design feature
An Aritco lift from Platinum Lifts.
It is only natural to want to spend as long as possible living in our forever homes before mobility issues inevitably take their toll. Stairs present a major obstacle for the elderly and are also the cause of many injuries as a result of trips and falls, and not just for the infirm.
Stair lifts are a popular option to postpone an eventual move to a single-storey dwelling, as they are relatively easy to install and don’t cost a fortune. The shape and style of your stairs will affect stair lift installation. On a straight staircase a stair lift can be fitted in a matter of hours and offers the cheapest and quickest solution. Curved staircases will be more complicated and usually involve a bespoke - and more expensive - fitting of the stair lift.
The Thyssen Flow 2 stair lift is the perfect solution for tight or limited staircases and comes in a wide choice of colours and fabric selections. (multicare.co.uk)
Another option – and potentially a lot more glamorous – is a domestic lift. Domestic lifts are available in a variety sizes to suit different requirements. Some lifts take up only the space of an airing cupboard, measuring less than one square metre, and can be discreetly tucked away out of sight. But there are also domestic lifts that can make a real design statement to complement even the smartest interior and serve as a focal point, especially lifts that resemble glass cabins. Of course, this comes at a significant cost.
A home lift can add style as well as functionality to a new home. This example is from the Aritco range from Platinum Lifts.
Where space is particularly tight, a lift may even be installed on the outside of the house. This can be a practical solution for a retrofit in an existing home, where structural considerations have to be taken into account. Starting from scratch, selfbuilders won’t usually face such constraints. A lift can be included right from the outset, or added later in a pre-designated space when the need arises.
A home lift installation may be expensive but the investment is usually recouped when the house is sold.
A home lift installation may be expensive but the investment is usually recouped when the house is sold. And as well as adding value to your home, a well-designed and fitted lift is sure to make the property more sellable.
Key considerations when choosing a domestic lift
- How many people will the lift need to carry?
- Does the lift need to accommodate a wheelchair user?
- How many levels does the lift need to serve?
- How much space is available for the lift?
- Where can the lift be located?
Types of Domestic Lift
Partially enclosed lift
Travels through the floor/ceiling between two floors at a maximum speed of 0.15 metres per second. Partially enlclosed lifts don’t need a liftway (shaft), so require minimum space. Different sizes allow for seated or a single wheelchair user. Minimal building work is required for retrofit.
This type of lift passes through the floor/ceiling between two floors at a maximum speed of 0.15m/s. It doesn’t require a liftway so minimises use of space. Different sizes allow for seated, standing, a single wheelchair user or wheelchair user plus an attendant standing. Requires minimal building work.
Vertical lifting platform
A vertical lifting platform travels within an enclosed shaft. The enclosure is typically part of the lifting platform installation and can feature glass or coloured panels. Control is by constant pressure buttons from the platform. The lift can serve up to four floors. Light building work is required.
Slow speed lift
A slow speed lift can service multiple floors within a shaft with only landing doors visible. Looks like a conventional passenger lift, but travels at just 0.15m/s so only needs minimal pit depth and headroom. Installation requires medium building work and a lift shaft.
Individual requirements will greatly influence the lift specification. For example, will the lift need to accommodate a wheelchair user? A manufacturer/supplier will be able to provide expert advice and guidance on the lift that best meets your requirements. Vertical lifting appliances are usually powered by an electric motor and as such need to comply with British safety standards.
Health and safety
Installing a vertical lift in your home raises some important fire protection considerations.
Through-floor lifts – These require an aperture to be cut for the lift to pass through the floor. This opening will remove the natural fire protection of the ceiling and floor. It is vital therefore that the home lift maintains the fire and smoke protection between floors, whether it is parked upstairs or downstairs.
Vertical lifting platforms – Typically, the enclosed liftway component of the installation will not be fire resistant as standard (the lift landing doors component should be fire rated). Where the enclosure is required to be fire resistant, it may be necessary to clad the enclosure in fire-resistant material.
Conventional passenger lifts – Fire resistance should be factored as part of the design and building work stages of the installation.
The installation of a vertical lifting appliance does not require planning permission, but Building Control approval is necessary if the installation involves the alteration of the structural integrity of the home. The type of lift and its installation location will determine the extent and complexity of building works required. A lift manufacturer/supplier will be able to advise on this.
Building Control approval is necessary if the installation of a lift involves the alteration of the structural integrity of the home.
How much does a home lift cost?
Which? lists the average price for a stairlift at just under £3,500. Variations on this figure will depend largely on the quality and complexity of the installation. Running costs of stair lifts are minimal as they are battery powered and charge from the mains when parked. Home lifts are elctrically powered and have battery backup in the event of a power cut. Prices for a home lift start at around £15,000.