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Should I Put an Elevator in My House?

Whoa, elevators. It’s kind of intimidating to think about adding one to your home. Who would you contact to put one in? How much does it cost? Would it really help you stay in your home for a lifetime?

Those are all great questions that definitely should be considered. Elevators are big decisions! This article may not answer all your queries, but it’ll give you some food for thought.

Photo of woman looking at her reflection in the ceiling mirror of a glass elevator by Unsplash.

Photo of woman looking at her reflection in the ceiling mirror of a glass elevator by Unsplash.

A lot of people think they’re totally unnecessary for their situation. I can totally understand that perspective. As of right now, my husband and I use the stairs in our house with no problem. (Well, one of us is 37 weeks pregnant and it’s kind of a problem! But I can take the stairs still . . .) But the huge ‘ What if’ looms over our heads just the same as it plagues you and your family:

  • What if I break a leg?

  • What if I’m in a car accident?

  • What if I get a disease that takes away my strength and energy?

  • What if I become an amputee?

  • What if my knees go bad?

We can go on forever with all the “what ifs” today, but I really DON’T want to drive up your anxiety. Deep breath, my friend! We’re just exploring the idea of putting an elevator in the house.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits, shall we?:

  • No falling on the stairs!

  • Accessing your bedroom and bathroom on an upper level.

  • Accessing laundry facilities in the basement.

  • No need for someone to help you up and down the stairs.

  • You can carry “reasonable” things, like a six pack of toilet paper. (Not a bed mattress or anything huge!)

  • You save your energy and time!

So, elevators are a reasonable choice for some people. I had a client who was asking about installing an elevator and confessed he felt afraid of the stairs. He lived on his own and didn’t want to fall down the stairs and hurt himself. I told this client I felt the same way when I was alone at home. It’s a good option to consider. I mean, have you ever fallen down the stairs? It hurts REAL BAD!

Photo of elevator buttons by Unsplash

Photo of elevator buttons by Unsplash

And unfortunately when you take a tumble as an older adult, you wind up with even more serious injuries than a 33-year-old woman!

Now, I don’t think every single person should live in a one level ranch to avoid stairs. That’s just not realistic! I’m a firm believer in the fact that if you want to live in a multi-story house, then you sure can regardless of your age or ability, dammit!

I recently watched a YouTube video by Jerry Rig Everything that went viral. Watch it by clicking here! It’s about a young guy named Zack and his girlfriend, Cambry. Super cute couple! Zack likes to tinker with technology and really seems to enjoy creating inventions for Cambry, who is a wheelchair user.

Fun fact: Cambry is also an occupational therapist according to her Instagram!

Zack and Cambry live in a multi-story house. In the video, the couple explains that if Cambry wants to go upstairs, she has to use her upper body while sitting on her bottom or have Zack carry her up the stairs. Either option is definitely not ideal! For one thing if there’s an emergency, time is of the essence. Imagine crawling on your bottom and using only your arms to escape the house during a fire. There may not always be a strong person available to pick you up and save you!

Now granted, you may not be able to use the elevator in case of all emergency scenarios. But my point is you need to get from one place to another in a short amount of time, and the stairs just aren’t going to do that for you, honey!

Also, Cambry probably wants the option to go to upstairs or downstairs whenever she freaking wants to instead of waiting for help. Wouldn’t you?

Photo of Stiltz Elevator.

Photo of Stiltz Elevator.

Zack is wise and recognizes Cambry’s needs. So he and his buddies install a Stiltz elevator and talk about the brand and specific technical components of the installation. I won’t go into those details because. . . I didn’t pay too much attention to that part. Just go watch the video!

I really enjoy the sensor features that automatically stop the elevator if someone or something is positioned on top or underneath of it. That’s great in case Fido or Fluffy decide to snooze in an inconvenient spot. I also like that the elevator has an emergency call function that’s easy to reach for people in a standing or sitting position.

Now, Zack and Cambry explained that they chose this specific sized elevator because it fit in their house well. It’s actually an elevator that’s the size for people who can stand but have a hard time with the stairs. I noticed that Cambry and her wheelchair fit snug as a bug on a rug when she entered going forwards or backwards, BUT Cambry did not have the space to turn around 180 or 360 degrees.

To me, that’s an issue. When Cambry entered the elevator going forward, that meant she couldn’t turn around and shut the elevator door, which did not automatically shut. She needed for Zack or someone else to open and shut the door. Red flag alert! In order for Cambry to truly be independent using the elevator, she would need to be able to face the door and reach it.

Wheelchair users need a minimum of a 5’x5’ turning radius in an elevator to reach the door, controls, and emergency functions. I mean, wouldn’t you want to reach the same things? If someone’s using a power wheelchair, a 6’x6’ turning radius would make that person feel really comfortable.

After watching the video, it looks like Zack and Cambry could’ve had the space to choose a larger sized elevator for their home. They did not say that they could only choose that size of elevator because of structural reasons. I’m not sure if they chose a bigger size, that would mean they would have to install a shaft of some sort or relocate the elevator to another spot in the house that didn’t work for them. I don’t know! I’m sure they have their reasons. Hopefully, they’ll answer my questions and I can update this blog post.

I also liked that they discussed things they would like changed about the elevator. Cambry mentioned the slope of the ramp into the elevator was pretty steep and Zack said that could be easily fixed. I wish he showed how he altered the elevator ramp for a gentler slope. I’m just glad he mentioned it because it’s important to be aware that if you pay the thousands of dollars to install an elevator in your house, then you can have the elevator company make a gentler sloped ramp. Don’t let them tell you, “No”. It really makes a huge difference for getting in and out of the elevator. Did you ask to climb a mountain today? No, you just want to live your life without struggling to go up a ramp.

Moral of the story is: elevators can help you live at home for a lifetime. If you do go down the elevator installation journey, make sure to talk to an occupational therapist about the best option for you and your family. We’re good at helping you save money and looking at all the options.

Have you installed an elevator in your house or consulted with a company to do so? If not, what are your thoughts after reading this blog? Tell us in the comments below!

Remember, you better do it before you need it!