about your house Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators

about your house Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
about your house
CE 63c
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and
Residential Elevators
Universal Design
People who inhabit and visit
our houses come in all shapes
and sizes, range in age from
infant to senior and possess
various ever-changing abilities
and skills. As we grow up,
grow old and welcome new
people into our homes,
our housing needs change.
A house that is designed
and constructed to reflect the
principles of universal design
will be safer and more
accommodating to everyone
who lives or visits there,
regardless of age or ability.
Consistent with the philosophy
of universal design, residential
lifts and elevators provide an
appropriate and equitable means
of access for many people.
Traditionally, an elevator or
lift in a private residence has
been viewed as an expensive
luxury exclusively for
wheelchair users.
Now, people recognize that
residential lifts and elevators
can benefit many people—
particularly seniors who want
to remain in their homes
despite loss of mobility,
strength or agility.
This About Your House tells you
about the types of residential
lifts and elevators that are
commonly available in Canada.
It also tells you about some of
the things you should consider
when you choose and install
an elevator or lift.
A word
about terms
The words used when discussing
“lifts,” “elevating devices,”
“elevators” and “hoists” can
be confusing as the terms are
often used interchangeably.
To further complicate things,
in European countries “lift”
is the word used for what is
called an “elevator” in
North America.
An overview of the key
concepts of universal design
is provided in “The Principles
of Universal Design” text
box on page 11.
Bolded terms throughout
this fact sheet are defined
in the “Glossary” text box
on page 10.
This About Your House
uses the terms lift and
residential elevator.
Lifts
A lift is an elevating device that
can travel up and down as much
as 2,450 mm (96 in.).
Lifts are typically used to
provide access between different
floors of a house, or from the
ground level outside the house
to an inside floor level.
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
There are three main types
of lifts:
■
Vertical platform lift
■
Inclined platform lift
■
Stair-chair lift
Inclined platform lift
Inclined platform lifts consist
of a platform that moves up
and down over an existing
stairway (see Figure 2). They
are often called stair lifts.
They are usually employed by
people who use wheelchairs,
but some models incorporate a
fold-down seat for people who
do not use a wheelchair but
have difficulty using stairs.
Vertical platform lift
Safety gate: manoeuvring space
on landing and at latch side of
gate is required
A vertical platform lift can
be equipped with platforms
of various sizes and must be
securely mounted on a solid
and stable base (typically
a poured-concrete slab),
sheltered to protect users from
rain and away from areas where
drifting snow can accumulate.
An unenclosed lift can become
unusable if tight-packed snow
and ice accumulate under
the lift platform. A grounded,
110-volt electrical supply
on a dedicated circuit is
typically required.
Vertical platform lifts are often
enclosed to prevent falls and to
stop children or animals from
getting under the platform.
The manufacturer can provide
a lift enclosure or an enclosure
can be custom built.
If the lift is not enclosed,
there should be a safety gate at
the upper level to prevent falls
when the lift platform is at the
lower level (see Figure 1).
Manoeuvring space at lift
Clear path to driveway
and/or sidewalk
Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.
Figure 1
2
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Unenclosed vertical platform lift
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
The platform is typically
supported by rails that are
mounted to a wall on one
side of the staircase. Platforms
on stair lifts come in various
sizes (see Table 1 on page 6).
Ideally, the staircase should be
at least 915 mm (36 in.) wide,
although some models are
available for stairs as narrow as
865 mm (34 in.). Remember
that the narrower the staircase,
the narrower the platform.
Ensure that the platform you
choose is large enough to fit
your wheelchair or scooter
(and any wheelchair or scooter
that your family or visitors may
have). A grounded, 110-volt
electrical supply on a dedicated
circuit is typically required.
to accommodate the platform
as it turns and are far
more expensive.
Inclined platform lifts need a
clear floor space at the top and
bottom of the staircase to allow
the user to get on and off
the platform. More space is
required at the bottom of the
stairs because the platform has
to travel beyond the end of
the last stair to reach the floor
level. Remember that the rails
extend beyond the bottom of
the last stair and will become a
tripping hazard if they are not
protected by a wall or some
other barrier.
Some inclined platform lifts
require a depression in the
floor at the lower level so that
the surface of the lift platform
is levelled with the floor finish.
Others incorporate a short
access ramp. Some models also
feature a platform that folds up
against a wall when not in use.
One of the greatest barriers to
installing an inclined platform
lift in an existing stairway is
available headroom. Often,
headroom is minimal—
particularly at the bottom of
the staircase. Be sure that you
have enough clearance.
Inclined platform lifts are easier
to install and less expensive if
the staircase is a single, straight
run. There are platform stair
lifts available that will turn
corners on curved staircases,
but they require wider staircases
Figure 2
Inclined platform lift
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
3
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
Stair-chair lift
Stair-chair lifts consist of a
seat that travels up and down
a stairway (see Figure 3). The
seat runs on a track or rails
mounted either on the surface
of the stairs or on an adjacent
wall. If a stair-mounted track
is used, it reduces the usable
width of the stairs. This is
of particular concern on
narrow stairs.
The person using the
stair-chair lift can be seated
sideways to the stairs or facing
down the stairs. In addition,
there are models with chairs
that swivel to make it easier to
get on and off the seat. More
stairway width is required to
sit sideways across the stairs.
Stair-chair lifts are easier to
install and are less expensive if
the staircase is a single straight
run. There are stair-chair lifts
available that can turn corners
on curved staircases.
Stair-chair lifts require a clear
floor space at the top and
bottom of the staircase so the
user can get on and off the chair.
Wheelchair users will need a
wheelchair on each floor level
served by the lift.
A concern about stair-chair lifts
is getting off the chair at one
of the most dangerous places
in a house—the top of a flight
of stairs. A stair-chair lift may
not be the safest solution for
people with transfer, balance
or visual limitations.
Residential
elevators
Residential elevator is the
commonly used term for a lift
that is enclosed in a shaft and
can travel vertically as much
as 15 m (49 ft.). They can be
equipped with platforms of
various sizes. Residential
elevator styles range from the
most basic, unfinished platform
to fully enclosed cabins with
safety gates and interior finishes
such as hardwood, ceramic tile,
marble and granite.
Residential elevators must be
securely mounted on a solid
and stable base (typically a
poured-concrete slab), as well
as braced to the structure of
the house. There must also
be a depression in the floor
below the lift shaft—typically
Figure 3
4
Stair-chair lift
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
200–350 mm (8–14 in.)
below the floor level of the
lowest stop. A grounded,
220-volt electrical supply
on a dedicated circuit is
typically required.
Residential
platform lift
or elevator
The elevator platform and
drive mechanisms are enclosed
within a shaft, with access to
the platform through a door or
gate, which can be either at the
narrow end or on the long side
of the platform.
Doors and gates should have a
safety interlock mechanism so
they cannot be opened unless
the platform is at their floor
level. Doors can be manually
operated or linked to the
lift control system to open
automatically when the lift
arrives at a floor.
In new home construction,
consider planning for the
addition of a residential elevator
by stacking closets above each
other on the various floor levels.
This space can later serve as
a hoistway (see Figure 4). If
the closets are suitably sized
Figure 4
and incorporate a knock-out
floor panel, adding an elevator
later can be simple and
cost-effective.
Stacked closets
facilitate later
addition of lift
or elevator
Diagram by: DesignAble Environments Inc.
Residential elevator
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
5
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
Is a residential elevator
the same as a commercial
elevator?
A residential elevator is less
complex (and less expensive)
than an elevator in an office
or high-rise apartment or
condominium building.
Commercial elevators are
regulated provincially and
must be licensed and regularly
inspected. Residential lifts and
elevators do not need licences.
Table 1
Standard platform sizes for vertical lifts
Width
Length
914 mm (36 in.)
1,220 mm (48 in.)
914 mm (36 in.)
1,372 mm (54 in.)
914 mm (36 in.)
1,524 mm (60 in.)
1,067 mm (42 in.)
1,524 mm (60 in.)
Table 2
Standard platform sizes for inclined lifts
Width
Length
The access route
710 mm (28 in.)
914 mm (36 in.)
Regardless of the type of
lifting device chosen, careful
consideration should be given
to the route used to reach the
platform. There should be a
clear and level area at least
1,525 x 1,525 mm (60 x 60 in.)
in size right in front of the
platform. Preferably, this area
should be 2,100 x 2,100 mm
(83 x 83 in.), particularly for
scooters and larger wheelchairs.
Ideally, there should be at least
600 mm (24 in.) of clear floor
space adjacent to the latch side
of the door or gate.
760 mm (30 in.)
1,120 mm (44 in.)
760 mm (30 in.)
1,524 mm (60 in.)
6
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
The Platform size
Vertical and inclined lifts
incorporate a platform—
the floor surface of the lifting
device. Tables 1 and 2 provide
standard platform sizes for
vertical or inclined lifts.
Taking into consideration the
needs of all family members
and visitors will help you
decide on the device size
and floor space required.
If you use a wheelchair or
scooter, you should carefully
measure the length and width
of your mobility device and
choose the platform size
accordingly. If you use your
wheelchair in a reclined position
or if you use footrests, be sure
to measure the chair while
you are seated in a comfortable
position. Remember also to
include space for your caregiver
or assistant if you require one.
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
Safety
considerations
Recommended safety features
for lifts and residential
elevators include:
■
■
■
■
■
interlock mechanisms on
doors and gates
a manual system in case
of a power outage or a
mechanical malfunction
sensors that prevent the lift
or elevator platform from
crushing objects that may
be underneath it
a backup system
safety gates at locations where
there is a drop-off when the
lift or elevator platform is at
a different level
■
handrails on platforms
■
proper lighting
■
an emergency telephone
or other on-device
communication system.
A lift or residential elevator
should never be used in an
emergency. In an emergency,
there may be a loss of power
to the device, the elevator shaft
may become contaminated
with smoke, or the lift may
take you into greater danger.
Always plan another way of
leaving each level of your home.
Strategies might include ramped
exit routes or areas of refuge—
areas of relative safety for use
in an emergency situation,
where people with limited
mobility can await evacuation.
In a residence, an outdoor
balcony, deck or patio can be
an area of refuge, as long as
there is an accessible route to
get there from inside the house.
See the About Your House
fact sheet Accessible Housing by
Design—Fire Safety for You and
Your Home for more information.
Frequently
asked questions
When should you
consider installing a lift
or residential elevator?
Lifts and residential elevators
are typically used when the
vertical change between two or
more floor levels is significant
and there is not enough space
to construct a ramp. It is usually
impossible to find space for
a ramp inside a house if the
change in floor levels is more
than 200 mm (8 in.). See
CMHC’s About Your House:
Accessible Housing by Design—
Ramps, for more information
about household ramps.
Lifts are also frequently used
outside residences and in garages
for access from the exterior
ground level into the house.
Again, lifts are typically used
if there is not enough space for
a ramp, if the vertical change is
so great that the ramp length
would be excessive or if a
resident or caregiver cannot
negotiate a ramp.
Do I need a
building permit?
Other than for the simplest
stair lift installations, you will
likely need a building permit.
It is important to note that a
building permit is necessary
whenever the installation of a
lift or residential elevator requires
structural changes to the house
or affects safety systems such as
stairs, fire separations, guardrails
and so on.
Are there standards,
licences and inspections?
Lifts and residential elevators
should be regularly inspected
and serviced.
Lifts in residences do not
have to meet any specific safety
standards. They do not need
a licence and there is no legal
requirement that they
be inspected.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
7
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
Table 3 Approximate purchase and installation cost of various
Residential elevators may
types of lifts
have to meet specific safety
standards. They may need a
Type
Cost
licence and they may need
an inspection. Call your
Unenclosed vertical platform lift
$5,000–8,000
municipal office and ask a
Enclosed vertical platform lift
$15,000 and up
building inspector about
safety standards, licensing and
Residential elevator
$20,000 and up
inspection for residential elevators.
Lifts and residential elevators
should comply with the latest
Canadian Standards Association
(CSA) standards.
Inclined platform lift
$10,000–12,000 (significantly more
if staircase is curved)
Stair-chair lift
$3,000–8,000 (significantly more
if staircase is curved)
CSA standards for lifts and
residential elevators:
Lift service contract
$200–500 per year
■
■
CAN/CSA-B355-00
Lifts for Persons with
Physical Disabilities
B355S1-02 Supplement #1
to CAN/CSA-B355-00,
Lifts for Persons with
Physical Disabilities
Purchasing a maintenance
contract from a reputable
supplier is a very good idea.
What about cost?
As with all construction,
cost can vary significantly
depending on the equipment,
■ CAN/CSA-B613-00 Private
materials and finishes that
Residence Lifts for Persons
you choose, as well as the
with Physical Disabilities
configuration of the
What type of maintenance existing house.
is required?
Table 3 provides cost estimates
for general budgeting purposes
Lifts and residential elevators
are mechanical devices that can only. Cost may vary significantly,
break down and therefore need depending on site conditions,
regular servicing. Maintenance market conditions and inflation,
among other factors.
is generally complex and
should be done by an expert.
8
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
To make your dollars go further,
consider buying from a company
that sells refurbished equipment.
Residential lift and elevator
equipment is frequently
recycled, providing a
reliable, cost-effective and
environment-friendly solution.
Where do I start and
who can help me?
The design of a lift or residential
elevator installation is typically
complex, involving architectural,
structural and electrical elements.
It is not a project to be tackled
by a handyman.
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
One starting place is lift
and residential elevator
manufacturers or local medical
equipment suppliers. A home
visit is always required, at
which time the supplier makes
recommendations about the
feasibility of different types of
lifts and residential elevators. It
is always a good idea to have a
health professional, such as an
occupational therapist, present
for the site visit, to ensure
that the type of device being
recommended will meet your
current and future needs.
Additional
Resources
For more ideas on how homes
can adapt to life’s changes,
consult CMHC’s publication
FlexHousingTM: Homes that
Adapt to Life’s Changes.
Websites
Régie du bâtiment du
Québec—Lifts for Persons
with Physical Disabilities
(April 2010)
http://www.rbq.gouv.qc.ca/
dirEnglish/general/lift.asp
You can also start by
consulting an architect, an
interior designer or another
design professional who is
familiar with the design of
accessible residences. During
the design, work with the
designer and a knowledgeable
health professional to
determine the best type of lift
or residential elevator to
meet your needs.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
9
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
Glossary
Backup system: A system that provides electricity to a lift or residential elevating device when the
primary power source is not available, such as during a blackout.
Hoistway: The clear space within which the residential elevator platform and related equipment
are located.
Inclined platform lift: A lift device consisting of a platform which travels up and down a stairway
on a track.
Interlock mechanism: A safety mechanism which locks a door or gate, preventing access to a lift
or residential elevator platform unless the platform is at the floor level of the door or gate.
Lift: A mechanical device used to overcome changes in floor and ground level.
Platform: The floor surface of a lift or residential elevator on which the user stands, or positions
his/her wheelchair or scooter.
Residential elevator: A commonly-used term for a vertical platform lift that is enclosed
within a shaft.
Stair lift: A commonly-used term for an inclined platform lift.
Stair-chair lift: A lift device consisting of a seat which travels up and down a stairway on a track.
Vertical platform lift: A lifting device consisting of a platform which travels up and down.
10
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
The Principles of Universal Design
Universal design is defined as:
“The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible,
without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
The concept is an evolving design philosophy.
Principle 1: Equitable use
This principle focuses on providing equitable access for everyone in an integrated and dignified manner.
It implies that the design is appealing to everyone and provides an equal level of safety for all users.
Principle 2: Flexibility in use
This principle implies that the design of the house or product has been developed considering
a wide range of individual preferences and abilities throughout the life cycle of the occupants.
Principle 3: Simple and intuitive
The layout and design of the home and devices should be easy to understand, regardless of the user’s
experience or cognitive ability. This principle requires that design elements be simple and work intuitively.
Principle 4: Perceptible information
The provision of information using a combination of different modes, whether using visual, audible
or tactile methods, will ensure that everyone is able to use the elements of the home safely and
effectively. Principle 4 encourages the provision of information through all of our senses—sight,
hearing and touch—when interacting with our home environment.
Principle 5: Tolerance for error
This principle incorporates a tolerance for error, minimizing the potential for unintended results.
This implies design considerations that include fail-safe features and gives thought to how all users
may use the space or product safely.
Principle 6: Low physical effort
This principle deals with limiting the strength, stamina and dexterity required to access spaces
or use controls and products.
Principle 7: Size and space for approach and use
This principle focuses on the amount of room needed to access space, equipment and controls.
This includes designing for the appropriate size and space so that all family members and visitors
can safely reach, see and operate all elements of the home.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
11
About Your House
Accessible Housing by Design—Lifts and Residential Elevators
To find more About Your House fact sheets plus a wide variety of information products,
visit our website at www.cmhc.ca. You can also reach us by telephone at 1-800-668-2642
or by fax at 1-800-245-9274.
Priced Publications
FlexHousingTM: Homes that Adapt to Life’s Changes
FlexHousingTM: The Professional’s Guide
Healthy HousingTM Renovation Planner
Order No. 60945
Order No. 61844
Order No. 60957
Free Publications
Design Options for Barrier-Free and Adaptable Housing
About Your House fact sheets
“Accessible Housing by Design” series
Appliances
Bathrooms
Fire Safety for You and Your Home
Home Automation
House Designs and Floor Plans
Kitchens
Living Spaces
Ramps
Residential Hoists and Ceiling Lifts
Backup Power for Your Home
Hiring a Contractor
Preventing Falls on Stairs
Research Highlight fact sheets
Evaluation of Optimal Bath Grab Bar Placement for Seniors
Measuring the Effort Needed to Climb Access Ramps in a Manual Wheelchair
Order No. 63909
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Order No. 63245
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©2007, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Printed in Canada
Produced by CMHC
18-05-10
Revised 2010
Although this information product reflects housing experts’ current knowledge, it is provided for general information purposes only. Any
reliance or action taken based on the information, materials and techniques described are the responsibility of the user. Readers are advised
to consult appropriate professional resources to determine what is safe and suitable in their particular case. Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation assumes no responsibility for any consequence arising from use of the information, materials and techniques described.
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