Installing an Elevator in a Two Story Residence

Special Living Magazine

Special Living MagazineAccessible Design & Consulting is a California-based company that specializes in making accessible homes as affordable as possible.

The goal is to allow people to stay in their home as long as they want.

Adam Fine, owner and president of Accessible Design, explains this project which was installing an elevator in a two-story home.

We previously we installed an elevator in a very elegant two-story home in California. The client for this project was an 84-year old woman who lived alone.

Her son lived on the East coast and was very concerned about her safety going up and down the stairs. He insisted she do something about it. She did not want to give up her second floor bedroom. The bath was also on the second floor. Her physical therapist suggested that she give us a call.


Special Living Magazine - Home Elevator Installation


The elevator door opening below the stairs in the entry

The first thing we did, as with every project, is a complete home assessment. This includes the obvious physical walk-around on the inside and outside of the home. In addition, we sit down with the client and get a profile of his/her physical needs and challenges.

Because every person and disability is different, it’s necessary to understand not only his condition at the time, but if/how his condition will change over time.

Our experience has been that the home assessment should include not only talking with the person with the disability, but also with family members and/or the caregiver if there is one.


Residential Elevator Installation


The shaft as it looks from the living room

The more information we can get, the better. Another family member can often give information that the person with the disability doesn’t discuss, because he/she either doesn’t consider it a problem or just hasn’t thought of or remembered everything.

We also discuss a realistic budget that the family can afford. Although sometimes uncomfortable, we do this as we can tailor the products we recommend according to the budget that they have discussed with us.

The most important objective of the home modification is to allow the client to remain safely in his/her own home for as long as possible.

The modification should improve accessibility and independence and increase mobility and safety. Along with this, we strive to make the home modification fit the natural look and feel of the home.


Home Elevator Installation


The shaft was built and finished to match the room. The elevator was then put into the shaft.

For this particular project, the client was having difficulties getting up and down her stairs. The initial assessment showed that a stairlift would be a possibility but there was a high probability that she would eventually be in a wheelchair.

Because the stairlift would need to be custom-made with curves to accommodate the various turns and landings, it would be much more expensive than a standard straight stairlift. If or when she reached a point where a wheelchair would be necessary, she would actually need to have two wheelchairs – one at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom.

She would need to transfer from a wheelchair at the bottom to the stairlift, travel up the stairs on the stair lift, and then transfer from the stairlift to the wheelchair at the top. This would cause physical stress for each transfer.

An elevator was a much more practical solution in this situation. The extra cost of the custom curved stairlift and additional wheelchair put it more in line with the cost of an elevator which would ultimately be safer, less strenuous, and much more convenient because there would be no transfers.

In some cases this is not always true and a stairlift would be the best option. Since this client was adamant about staying in her home as long as possible, an elevator made sense to her.


Residential Elevator Installation


The elevator opens onto the second landing at the top of the stairs.

The shaft was built from the ground up. The elevator was installed into the shaft when it was completed and then finished to look like the rest of the room. It was painted to match the interior of the home and the doors at the top and bottom were trimmed in white like the other doors in the home.

The crown molding on the ceiling was also custom fabricated to match the existing crown molding in the room.

The finished installation looked like closets at the top and bottom of the stairs. It isn’t until the doors are opened is it apparent that an elevator lift is inside. We reached our goal of making the elevator, shaft, and trim match the rest of the room.

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Additional Elevator and Lift Information
Below is a list of links to additional Lift Products and Installations we have performed.

For information about installing a residential elevator in your home contact:

Adam Fine
Accessible Design & Consulting
(866) 902-9800 – Toll Free