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For many Canadians mobility is a day-to-day challenge and homes that are built to accommodate limited mobility are few and far between. Thankfully, there are changes that can be made to help make any home accessible for anyone.

Lifts and elevators are great options to consider when needing to adapt your home when a change in mobility affects you or your family. While not the most inexpensive alternative, it is important to consider.

Lifts are typically used to provide ease of access between different floors of a home or from ground level on the outside of the home to the main floor level inside. Lifts are fantastic alternatives for homes that do not meet all the requirements for a residential elevator. There are three main types of lifts to consider:

A Vertical Platform lift can be fashioned with platforms of many shapes and sizes.These lifts can operate to a maximum height of 96 inches and are required to be mounted on a stable base such as a concrete slab. It is crucial to ensure that these lifts are securely enclosed to prevent unwanted accumulation of rain and snow, as well as to prevent falls or other dangers. It is important to note this lift requires a grounded, 110 volt electrical circuit to operate.

Inclined Platform lifts are designed to move up or down existing stairways and are often called “Stair Lifts”. These lifts are mostly used by people who require a wheelchair, but there are models available that include a fold down seat for people who may not require a wheelchair but still have difficulty with stairs. The lift platform is supported by rails mounted to the wall. It is ideal that a stairway be at least 36 inches wide for sufficient clearance, however, some platform models are available for staircases as narrow as 34 inches. Inclined Platform Lifts can be quite versatile with models that are able to maneuver on a curved staircases or fold up along a wall when not in use. These lifts also require a grounded, 110 volt electrical circuit to operate safely.

Residential elevators are essentially a Vertical Platform Lift that has been fully enclosed within a shaft. Residential elevators can travel heights of 49 feet and can be equipped with platforms of various sizes and finishes. Residential elevators are required to be securely mounted on a solid base such as a concrete slab and braced to the house. There must also be a 8 to 14 inch depression in the floor below the lift shaft and a 200 to 300 volt dedicated electric circuit is required.

When building a new home, it is wise to consider the potential of the addition of a residential elevator by stacking two closets on top of one another on multiple stories. If planned correctly, this space can later be converted into a residential elevator without major reconstruction should the need occur.

It is crucial to consider all the implications and factors of installation when investing in a lift or residential elevator. Ensure that you research the standards for licenses, building permits, inspections and maintenance within your municipal area and always ensure your safety features are up-to-date.

Losing mobility is never planned and sometimes can happen very suddenly. By keeping this reality in mind, you can guarantee that your home will remain your home through even the most drastic of lifestyle changes.

For more information on how you or a loved one can build a Home for Life™ please contact us.