Domestic lifts were once a rarity but an ageing population is fuelling demand and innovation in the world of elevators.
It is now commonplace for middle-aged self-builders to include space for a lift in their homes, so they can future-proof their grand designs. Top-end developers too are starting to offer this option.
For those with existing houses, the options have been limited as retro-fitting a hydraulic lift is an expensive, space gobbling and messy job. Plus, style has clearly not been high on the agenda for most manufacturers
Now, after seeing a gap in the market, a Yorkshire company has created a plug-in lift that is contemporary, compact and takes just a day to install.
The newly-launched LiftonDUO by Stiltz has a footprint of less than a square metre but can carry up two people. Its see-through walls also make it feel spacious and prevent feelings of claustrophobia.
Small with a curved profile and lit by LED lights, it is designed to fit discreetly into tight spaces like the corner of a room. It can also be located in a stairwell, galleried landing or even a cupboard.
Lachlan Faulkner, Commercial Director of the Stiltz Group, says: “We’ve worked hard on the design so it looks fantastic in both traditional and contemporary homes and it is ultra-easy to operate.
“We expect the LiftonDUO to be a real game changer in a number of ways, as it breaks new ground in home lift design. We also hope it will help our customers enjoy the positive benefits of living in their family home for many years to come.”
The LiftonDUO costs £16,000 installed, which compares well with hydraulic counterparts, which start from around £20,000 and need a separate machine room for the equipment.
Mr Faulkner says: “The Lifton is one of the only lifts on the market that does not use hydraulics. It can be plugged straight into the wall using a normal 13amp power socket and it is powered by an internal electric drive system, which is situated on top of the lift, out of sight.
“It travels on patented self-supporting stilts using discreet wire rope hoists that guide it safely and quietly on its through-floor journey. There are no load-bearing walls so no major construction work is needed, which is why it only take a day to install.”
The Lifton comes in modular sections and you can request it in any colour you like. One customer recently opted for pink to match her decor.
For those who are nervous of travelling in an elevator – and many are – Lachlan Faulkner says: “There are sensors fitted above and below the lift car to detect obstructions and a battery back-up will power the lift to safety in the event of electrical outage.”
For those who are getting older and want to stay in their own home as long as possible, it pays to plan ahead. Here are some tips on age-proofing your property:
Stairs. These can be a major issue. A second bannister is helpful but if you need more help and can’t afford a lift, like the one mentioned above, look at stairlifts. The average cost is about £2,000, though this can jump to as much as £6,000 if you have a curved or very long stairs.
Bathrooms: Walk-in floor-level showers have no trip hazard and are wheelchair accessible. Also consider installing a stylish shower bench. They can be built-in and tiled or free-standing. Buy a tall toilet. Most toilets are less than 16 inches high so look for one that is higher, 17 to 19 inches, which makes sitting and standing much easier
Kitchen. Maximise accessibility and minimise lifting. A wall-housed oven will be much easier than a floor-standing one as there will be less need to bend. Deep drawers are better than cupboards and are also a fashionable choice.
Hallways: A long rail on one side of the wall cis helpful to hold onto. Attach a basket to the inside of the letter box to prevent you from bending down to pick up your mail.
Gardens: Make your garden as low maintenance as possible. The lawn may have to be sacrificed but you can install raised beds and pots on plant stands. Read The Age-Proof Garden by Patty Cassidy.It’s American but the tips translate.