How Much Does a Home Elevator Cost? Breaking Down Residential Elevator Prices
Residential elevators solve multistory mobility challenges. Home elevator costs have a wide price range of $2,000 to $60,000, so talk to an installer for a custom quote.
- Typical Range: $2,000 to $60,000
- National Average: $30,000
Kitchen and bathroom renovations are popular construction projects, but have you ever considered adding an elevator? Home elevators are usually added for luxury or necessity, but you could also add one for more functionality or to boost your home value. When added for necessity’s sake, an elevator can drastically improve the living conditions of people with limited mobility. Home elevator costs have a wide price range: $2,000 to $60,000, but the average is $30,000. The number of floors the elevator will travel, the amount of construction required, and the elevator style will affect the total price. It’s worth noting that an elevator is not the same as a stair lift, which could be an option for some homeowners. Home elevators work well for multistory homes, for wheelchair users, and for carrying loads of groceries or equipment between levels.
Home Elevator vs. Stair Lift
Though they share a similar function, home elevators and stair lifts are two distinct features with different costs.
A home elevator is designed to carry at least one or two people, people in wheelchairs, or a person and their belongings from one level to the next. Home elevators work in at least two-story houses where the homeowner wants to add an easier method of carrying things between floors or when assistance is needed to get to another level. The average cost of a home elevator is $30,000, but they can be much cheaper if they’re a vertical lift style or installed on the exterior of the house with an interior entrance.
An alternative to installing a full elevator is to have a technician install a stair lift along the stairs so users can sit on the motorized seat and be carried up the stairs. If you have two staircases on top of each other, a curved stair lift can be installed to take you up one or both sets of stairs on the same lift. Stair lifts work well for homes that don’t have the right space to install an elevator. They’re also easy to install, which makes them a less expensive option in some cases. Stair lifts cost on average $3,000 to $5,000.
Factors in Calculating Home Elevator Cost
Home elevators are a unique addition to a house, and they come with a significant range of prices and options. An elevator for a two-story house is much cheaper than one for a four-story house. The size of the elevator and the kind of motor you choose will also influence the total price. Here are the top factors of home elevator costs so you can have a better estimate for your budget.
Installing an elevator or lift in your house will take a fair amount of labor to get it done properly—especially if it’s being added to an existing house. On average, labor rates run between $500 and $5,000. If your home elevator will require a shaft plus a mechanical room, labor will cost more than if it’s a simpler vertical lift or exterior elevator.
In general, you’ll need to make enough room for 25 to 40 square feet of space on each floor. The larger the space or elevator, the more it will cost since more materials and labor are needed. Alternatively, you could install a much smaller style of elevator (called a church elevator) that takes up a mere 10 to 15 square feet. This works best in small old buildings with little space and when a wheelchair isn’t needed for the ride.
Type of Elevator Drive System
It might surprise you to learn that there are several kinds of elevator motors or drives you could choose to install. The traditional cable shaft or traction shaft are popular options, but they do require an extra mechanical room. Hydraulic drives can be contained in the shaft, but they can become costly. Pneumatic drives use vacuum pressure to move between floors. They don’t require extra space, but since they can’t be hidden within the walls of the home, this type will be fully visible.
Site Preparation and Installation
Installing a residential elevator is easiest during a new home construction when installers don’t have to rip out existing structures or adjust mechanical systems to install the elevator. If the elevator is being installed in an existing house, the contractor will need to inspect the walls and floors to see what materials will be affected and how they can be refinished to keep the house insulated after the elevator is installed. Any floor that has an elevator access will have some localized construction debris during installation.
Number of Floors
Most residential elevators can be installed on up to four floors, but each floor comes at an additional cost. Expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 for each additional floor. If the elevator is being installed for necessity’s sake, you could choose which floors it’s most critical for and opt to install it on fewer floors. Homes with only two stories automatically have a lower installation cost than those with additional stories.
The type of drive shaft you choose will determine the kind of equipment that will be installed. Extra mechanical rooms add cost, but most elevators also include some kind of battery backup system as well. Depending on the style of elevator, the equipment portion of the total price typically costs between $1,000 and $40,000.
You can customize the style of residential elevator to match your home’s interior. Modern elevators, like a pneumatic one, might be more sleek with glass or metal walls. They cost $20,000 to $40,000 on average. Victorian elevators cost more at $35,000 to $55,000 and have a classic look with wood and even iron decor. For a truly antique look, opt for the vintage style that looks like it came straight from the turn of the 20th century, decorated with mahogany or walnut wood and suspended antique light fixtures. This style costs $37,000 to $65,000.
Additional Costs and Considerations
Beyond the standard factors for home elevator costs, you may need to review these additional price considerations. They don’t apply to every situation, but you may know right off the bat whether your retrofit or construction project will need to factor in the cost.
New Construction vs. Retrofit
Since adding an elevator to an existing home can be a challenging project, you may find that home elevator costs tend to apply to new construction projects. During a retrofit, you’ll need to hire an architect (and potentially a structural engineer), build and repair walls, install new ceiling, update the electrical panel and wiring, and add new carpentry framing. Each comes at its own cost, but it’s easier to estimate the cost for a new construction as opposed to a retrofit.
Machine Room vs. Machine Room-Less
The drive type you choose will determine whether the installer needs to add a machine room or a mechanical room. A room is usually needed for cable or traction elevators where a counterweight is used to raise and lower the lift. Machine room-less (MRL) elevators may cost less and require less equipment and space than their counterparts.
Using the services of an architect is the best way to make sure the elevator is placed in the most suitable location and has all the mechanical equipment space it needs. Depending on the complexity of the house, the lack of space, or the size of the elevator, you’ll pay between $2,000 to $9,300 to hire an architect for a retrofit.
Home Renovation and Repair
Adding an elevator during a home renovation is an excellent way to save on some costs since the cost of an architect or electrician is spread across multiple projects. Depending on the extent of the renovation, the contractor may have more flexibility to install a larger elevator or place it in the best spot more easily. Once the elevator is installed, you’ll spend $75 to $100 per hour for maintenance and repair plus any equipment costs.
Type of Gate and Doors
When an elevator is installed to help less mobile people reach other floors, you’ll need to install a code-compliant safety gate. Most elevators come with some kind of safety gate, but make sure it works for your needs. Additionally, you can pay for the exterior elevator doors to match the rest of the house. It’s a good way to increase the home’s value even more and ensure the elevator doesn’t stick out like an afterthought addition.
For additional costs, you can opt for special lighting, paneling, and other extra features to be included. You may want to add a phone or even music and speakers to your elevator. An elevator contractor can accurately quote each customized option.
Inspections and Maintenance
All home elevators require inspections to ensure they operate safely. If you opt to sign up for a maintenance contract, it will include a yearly inspection to keep it up to date. Most areas require annual inspections, which cost at least $75.
It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to seek financing to add an elevator since it can quickly become a pricey addition. Some homeowners choose to pay with a credit card if it has 0 percent financing. Otherwise, you can shop around for a home improvement or home equity loan, or you can ask about financing rates directly from the elevator company.
Subsidies and Tax Benefits
You can check with local or state authorities to see if there are accessibility grants you could qualify for when adding a home elevator. Some residential elevators could be eligible for a tax deduction, but your accountant will have the best information for your situation.
Home Elevator Cost: Types
Since the type of elevator you choose is a primary factor in the total cost, we’ve broken down each type with its associated costs. You’ll have a better idea of what style you might prefer and how it fits your budget.
A cable-driven elevator is similar to the style used in larger office buildings, condos, or other commercial properties. The cable winds around a drum and raises or lowers the elevator. The drum and counterweight require extra space in a mechanical room, but they’re often used to retrofit homes. The cable needs to be inspected often since regular use can wear it out quickly. This style costs $15,000 to $35,000 on average.
Hydraulic elevators need a smaller footprint since they work on a large piston below the elevator to raise and lower it using a hydraulic lift. No extra mechanical room is needed, and they operate more quietly than those with a cable or chain. Talk with the elevator company to determine if your home will need a pit to hold the piston or if it can be built without it. You can expect to pay $30,000 to $50,000 for a hydraulic elevator.
Geared traction elevators have a gearbox on the top of the elevator that uses a pulley system to operate the elevator. This style costs $25,000 to $38,000, but it operates slower and can only travel up to 250 feet.
This is another excellent option for a retrofit project. Gearless traction elevators don’t require an extra machine room since the pulleys work on a track inside the shaft with the counterweight. The only extra space needed is at the top of the shaft. You can install one of these for an average of $29,000 to $55,000.
For another machine room-less option, opt for the chain-driven elevator with a counterweight attached to the chain that moves in the opposite direction of the elevator. The shaft will be larger to accommodate the counterweight, but the chain is stronger than a cable. The downside is that this is one of the louder styles, which may not be conducive to a residence. This style costs $27,000 to $62,000 on average.
Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator
A pneumatic elevator works using a pressurized vacuum system to push the elevator up and down. These elevators can’t be hidden behind walls and are often made of glass, but they’re still relatively simple to add to a house. No pits or mechanical rooms are needed, either. For this modern elevator, you can expect to pay $35,000 to $60,000.
Vertical Platform Lift
For split-level homes, a great option is the vertical lift. It works by moving the platform up, similar to how a forklift raises the forks. Vertical platform lifts are great for moving wheelchairs between floors. This style doesn’t need a full shaft or much space to operate, making it a less expensive option. The average cost of this elevator type is $5,000 to $20,000.
In some cases, a house just may not be able to retrofit an elevator, or it needs to be added on a tight budget. Fortunately, an outdoor elevator is a great solution. It’s built on the exterior with materials designed to withstand the elements and temperatures. Homeowners can access the elevator from the inside in whichever rooms or hallway it’s built against. This style can be built for an average cost of $2,000 to $10,000.
Another simple elevator is the shaftless design that can work for two-story houses. This type is smaller than others, so only one person can use it at a time, but it requires less space to be used during a retrofit. All the materials used will be more basic and plain than those used for larger elevators. You can build a shaftless elevator for $15,000 to $25,000 on average.
Do I Need a Home Elevator?
Usually, people associate home elevators with one of two reasons: mobility challenges or the desire to have a luxury feature. They’re both quite valid reasons. However, you could also consider adding an elevator to a multistory house for general convenience and to increase the home value.
Increase in Home Value
Home elevator costs come at a price, but having a home elevator does offer an increase in your home value. Prospective homebuyers may find them highly appealing during the buying process, too. You can ask an appraiser to assess whether an elevator can boost your property value as you look at renovating your house. For typical elevators built inside and mostly concealed, it’s possible to see a 10 percent increase in your home value, which could become a 60 to 100 percent return on investment.
Every home has its unique characteristics. One of those may be multiple floors accessed frequently throughout the day, or perhaps the garage is on a lower floor but the entry and kitchen are much higher. Whatever the reason, adding an elevator can make a big difference in the convenience of your daily life. You can easily haul decor and boxes you use frequently, take cleaning equipment to each floor more easily, and avoid carrying groceries up multiple flights.
Many people may find they prefer an elevator so they can move between levels safely and more easily. Limited mobility or medical issues can create safety concerns for people who are less steady on stairs. Using an elevator helps people move between floors more safely and gives them peace of mind about getting where they need to go.
Ironically, an elevator takes up less space than a standard stairwell. That means you could gain back some extra space if you need it by choosing to install an elevator instead of building stairs. Similarly, you could add the elevator to the exterior to keep the interior space free as well.
Adding an elevator that reflects your personal style is a great way to enhance your home’s interior. It can also boost the appearance of your home—and the functionality—uniquely and stylishly. You can match a more modern appearance or a cozy vintage design.
Aging in Place
As homeowners age, it’s hard to consider leaving a home where many thousands of wonderful memories were made, especially if they built the home themselves. If mobility issues are the only reason to consider leaving the family home, then adding an elevator can help solve the challenge and allow homeowners a chance to age in place and live out their remaining days in a place that’s comfortable and familiar.
Home Elevator Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
While it could be easy for some people to knock out a wall and add a closet, that’s not quite the same as building an elevator shaft, much less an elevator. Elevators are complicated machines that should be installed by a licensed pro—local laws may even require it. Experienced elevator contractors will be familiar with each type of elevator so they can help you make an informed decision that’s best for your needs and house. Numerous safety and accessibility codes need to be followed to ensure the elevator works for any mobility challenges. With a qualified professional installing this technical equipment, you won’t have to worry whether it’s safe to use.
How to Save Money on Home Elevator Cost
Home elevator costs have a higher price point than many home projects, so you may be wondering if you can save on costs. Here are a few ways to reduce the total price of your home elevator.
- Ask for quotes from several companies, and make sure they do an in-home consultation so they all have the same information.
- Add an elevator as you’re building the home if you think it will come in handy later.
- Decide exactly what purpose your elevator will serve so a pro can help you decide which type is best for you.
- Consider adding an outdoor elevator if it works with the existing house configuration.
- Choose a less expensive drive if it works in your space.
- Make your choice and stick with it rather than changing your mind after ordering the elevator and construction has begun.
- Price shop the elevator using the exact specifications to find a great price or a better warranty.
- Consider an elevator without proprietary parts that may cost more to replace if they wear out.
- Avoid customizing it or adding expensive materials for a more stylish appearance.
- Ask if there are any demolition or site preparation tasks you can do on your own to save on labor costs.
Questions to Ask About Home Elevator Cost
One of the keys to a successful construction project is asking plenty of questions before hiring a contractor. It’s the best way to avoid miscommunication and ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. Always ask contractors if they are licensed, bonded, and insured. You should also ask if they have references. They should come on-site to provide a consultation and quote to know exactly what kind of space they will retrofit or include in new construction. Here are some other questions you can ask about home elevator costs.
- Do I need to obtain a building permit?
- What drive system is best for the space I have available and for the needs I have?
- Are there options that are less expensive and still work to meet my needs?
- How can I customize this elevator to match my house and style?
- Can I review a line-item quote or contract first?
- Does the elevator you recommend have a lot of proprietary parts?
- What kind of safety features does the elevator come with?
- Who will do the actual installation of the shaft and elevator?
- Do you subcontract any construction tasks? If so, who oversees the work?
- What kind of electrical requirements will this elevator need?
- How much of my house will be inaccessible during the retrofit?
- How long will it take to install?
- What kind of maintenance will this elevator need?
- Do I have to have regular inspections? If so, how much does that cost?
- What happens if it breaks while I’m using it?
- Who is my main point of contact if I have questions?
- Do you offer any warranties?
Elevators are complex machines that offer many benefits to homeowners who choose to add one to their house. Determining the total price can be tricky since there are so many variables like size, drive, style, and more. We’ve included a few answers to the most commonly asked questions to help you as you begin the decision-making process.
Q. How much does it cost to put an elevator in a house?
Installing an elevator can range from $2,000 to $60,000, with an average of $30,000. You could choose a simple platform lift for a split-level home, an outside elevator, or a full pneumatic elevator with all the bells and whistles. No two elevator projects are the same, just as each construction job comes with its own challenges. Talk with an elevator installer to get a custom quote just for you.
Q. How long will my home elevator last?
An elevator that is properly maintained can last between 20 and 25 years. Some parts like the hoists may last much longer, while doors typically wear out the fastest, especially if they’re not maintained properly.
Q. How long does it take to install an elevator in a house?
It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to install an elevator in a house. Simple lift elevators could be installed in a few days.