With the average Australian expected to live longer than ever before, communities are more focused on helping older people live full and comfortable lives.
Improved quality of life in later years is allowing more elderly people to remain in their own homes, leading to a trend in the installation of devices which aid independent living.
As part of this shift in thinking, domestic lifts – previously considered extravagant items – are becoming increasingly commonplace and designers and architects are finding ways to make them aesthetically pleasing.
Bernard Edwards from Lift Shop says a combination of an aging population and smaller blocks is forcing people to build multi-storey homes. Homes that are built across two and three levels mean people will be required to handle more stairs.
“Often when people are finally in a position to build their dream home, they have worked hard all their life and then they have this issue with stairs so they want to future-proof their home so they can stay in it longer,” he says.
When you consider a lift adds value to the property for resale and it also may mean not having to move house, it is worth the investment, Bernard says.
Bernard says all lifts come with a warranty and typically cost under $1000 per year to service. “We suggest people service them twice a year. They are a piece of machinery, so they need to be properly looked after,” he says.
“I think people have heard about the strata costs associated with maintaining lifts in high rises and think that applies to the domestic lift but that is not the case. In a private home, there is much less wear and tear and a lot less travel, so those same maintenance costs don’t apply.”
Planning for a domestic lift in a new build needs to be done early in the process so that space can be set aside for the shaft and machine room.
But the lift itself is one of the last items installed when most of the messy work in the rest of the home has been completed. Bernard says the machine room is compact and occupies about the same amount of space as a broom cupboard.
Andrew Burke from West Coast Elevators says retro-fits are common and relatively easy to complete. “Retrofitting a lift is a very easy choice for the customer, requiring very little building works,” he says. Lifts can be as small as 600mm by 600mm but the most common and comfortable size is 1100mm by 1400mm.