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Whether you’re a wheelchair user or a senior struggling with the stairs, you’re probably wondering if an elevator can be added to an existing home. 

Thankfully, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Although more complex than adding a lift to a new build, retrofitting is viable in almost every Australian home. 

Now you know a home lift is possible, the next step is examining its feasibility. From the installation cost to size restraints and council restrictions, there’s a multitude of things to consider before investing in a residential lift. 

We’re going to talk you through them all in this post. 

The benefits of adding an elevator to an existing home

Before we examine feasibility, let’s take a quick glimpse at the benefits of a home elevator.

A residential lift will enhance the quality of life for the frail, ill, or mobility-impaired. Older or infirm Australians often struggle to negotiate their stairs—wheelchair users, of course,  will find the prospect outright impossible.

Should upstairs become off-limits, a mobility-impaired homeowner will lose access to vast swathes of their property. This inaccessible space often prompts the resident to sell up and move or transition into a nursing home. 

By retrofitting a home elevator, you can regain access to your entire house, empowering you to continue living in the safety and comfort of your own home.  

But a residential lift isn’t only about accessibility; it’s also an important safety feature. 

Nearly one in three older Australians has experienced a fall in the last 12 months, many of whom end up in hospital with severe injuries. While wet areas like the bathroom and kitchen are known danger zones, the stairs also present a significant risk. Adding an elevator to a house lets you bypass those treacherous stairs and travel between storeys in a safe, built-for-purpose lift. 

Plus, as they’re fairly uncommon, a residential lift can add substantial value to your property. Older or mobility-impaired buyers will happily pay a premium for a house with a ready-to-use home lift. 

Finally, a home lift also makes life more convenient. Rather than lugging bulky items up the stairs, a courier or family member can pop them in the lift. From prams to cots and oversized boxes, all sizeable items are easy to transport in an elevator.  

The feasibility of adding an elevator to an existing home

Installing a residential elevator is possible in almost every Australian home. But is it feasible? 

That depends on numerous factors. 

The cost of installing a home lift

The price depends on several variables, including the lift type, size, height, additional add-ons, and where you get it installed. Most residential lifts in Australia cost between $48,000 and $60,000, although the final figure can potentially reach up to $100,000. 

When evaluating the financial feasibility, consider the cost and hassle of the alternative, which for many people means moving. Purchasing a property (or a nursing home unit) is expensive and involves a mountain of paperwork. Retrofitting a lift usually works out to be a cheaper, less stressful solution. 

Available space and layout

As retrofitting lifts became more common in the mid-1990s, some builders began including space for a future elevator in their plans. Many modern homes have double-stacked closets, with one positioned directly above the other. These areas offer a logical place to retrofit an elevator, which lowers installation costs. 

As a rule of thumb, you’ll need 2.5 square metres of available space on each floor to construct a residential lift. However, Axis Lifts can create a compact, customised elevator to fit within limited space in many situations. Also, a common alternative is to install an elevator on the home’s exterior. 

Given all the variables, you’ll need a professional to make the final call. Axis Lifts can evaluate your available space and provide a customised quote on the most logical and cost-effective place to do the installation.  

Council restrictions

Some Australian councils restrict what you can build in the exterior, which applies to residential lifts. While regulations vary between councils, common restrictions prohibit construction within a certain distance of the boundary, above a water board or table, or above an underground park (unless the lift services the car park).

Axis Lifts has an in-depth understanding of council regulations in South East Queensland and can provide bespoke advice. 

The timeframe

Any renovation or retrofit job is a noisy, messy affair. To reduce the impact on customers, Axis Lifts undertakes in-depth pre-planning procedures that minimise installation time. 

As a result, we can finalise straightforward installation jobs within a two week period. 

It’s possible to continue living at home during the installation. Just be aware you’ll lose access to certain areas and will have to tolerate some noise. 

The platform stair lift

A more affordable alternative to the standard residential elevator is the platform stair lift. This customisable solution uses a platform attached to a track on an existing staircase, which is powered by an electric motor. A wheelchair user can safely roll onto the platform and control the unit with a joystick-like remote. 

While it’s slower and less convenient than a vertical lift, the platform stair lift offers a cost-effective alternative suitable for most two-storey homes. 

Finding the perfect professional installer

An elevator installation in an existing home is a complicated process requiring a significant financial investment. A wide range of issues can arise, from faulty electrics to aesthetic damage and compromised structural integrity. 

Given so much is at stake, it’s worth doing the legwork to find a reputable installer you can trust. The best companies back their work with a warranty and offer rapid, round-the-clock support should an issue arise. 

Axis Lifts: The residential elevator experts

Are you considering getting a residential elevator installed in Northern NSW or Queensland?

Then get in contact with Axis Lifts today. With over 94 years of combined industry experience, our team has the knowledge and expertise to install the ideal solution in your home. 

We offer a 12-month warranty with two free follow-up visits on all our lifts. And with more on-call technicians than any other local competitor, help is only ever a quick call away.