BY SHANNON MONEO
As home prices climb, the affordability mountain is getting further out of reach. And as a greater proportion of Canadians stroll into their post-middle years, there’s a growing desire, and sometimes need, to remain in their home.
Maybe it’s the hassle of moving or that finding a suitable home would eat up too much retirement money. Perhaps the thought of downsizing or living in rule-bound strata doesn’t appeal.
Whatever the reason, interior designer Lisa Dunsmuir is seeing more instances where people are remaining in their home and then renovating it for the long term.
It used to be that people renovated their homes with an eye on resale value. “Now they’re fixing them up to live in them,” she says. And there’s one feature that speaks to cradle to grave.
“Residential elevators are coming to the forefront,” says Dunsmuir, co-owner of Step One Design.
Currently, home elevators most often appear in high-end homes, but she predicts they will become more mainstream.
Andre Bailly is the manager of Island Lift Systems. The company, with five Island locations, has gone from doing a few installations per year about five years ago, to roughly one per month.
“And we get at least a couple of inquiries per week for elevators,” Bailly says.
There are two categories of elevator installations: While a house is being built or as an addition to an existing home.
Additions are often initiated when a person needs access to their home, usually the result of a disability, work injury or age.
“New builds are where they look to the future, to stay in the home as long as possible,” Bailly says. The elevator becomes part of the home design, much preferred to the retrofit scenario, where space constraints and home foundations are concerns.
Prices range from about $25,000 to $35,000 for a modest installation, up to $150,000 for a centrepiece human transporter. “Some make it a feature in their house,” Bailly says.
Location and Timeline
In some residences, elevators can be tucked away. It may be a hallway door that blends in, but when opened, it’s the elevator.
While a home is being built, it takes about two to five days to install the elevator. A retrofit may take up to five days.
Bailly is careful to distinguish between the various kinds of “lifts.”
A true elevator is a fully-enclosed lift housed within a hoist-way, typically measuring about five feet by six feet.
A through floor lift is smaller, roughly four feet by four feet, and moves through an opening in the floor.
And a vertical platform lift is typically installed inside a garage or outside a home, beside a deck and moves between levels.
Often retrofits will involve a through floor lift because less floor area is lost. Elevators are more appealing in new builds because they are part of the home’s design.
“And there are far greater product options,” Bailly says.