Home > Disabled Access > Renovating to Give Access to Upper Floors

Renovating to Give Access to Upper Floors

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 11 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Renovating To Give Access To Upper Floors

Stairs form a common access problem for disabled or elderly people so it's no surprise that a number of domestic solutions have arrived on the markets to service this need.

Different Access Solutions for the Upper Floors of a Home

There are basically three different sorts of mechanical aid that give access to the upper floors of a house without climbing the stairs. The first is the stairlift, a chair which runs on tracks up the side of an existing staircase and folds up against the wall when not in use. The second is a traditional lift, where a complete box is raised and lowered vertically between floors. Not many homes have the space for one or can afford one, as they are the most expensive option.

The third access solution is the platform lift, a cross between the two. The mechanism can be either a straight vertical lift or an inclined lift like a stairlift. The main difference is that there is a flat platform at floor level so that a wheelchair user can roll straight onto it rather than getting off onto a seat. This has the added advantage that the wheelchair goes upstairs as well as the person in it, so someone who is unable to get around without their chair will now be able to access areas of upper floors as well as the ground floor.

Traditional Lifts in the Home

It's important to decide on the best access solution early on in the renovation stage. Lifts aren't common in houses because of the space problem, but if you would prefer to install a lift, an obvious solution is to completely replace the staircase with it, something that might well fit in with your renovation plans if you are moving or otherwise altering the stairs anyway. But a staircase often plays a structural role in the house so you will need the advice of a structural engineer about replace the missing strength.

Also you need access space upstairs as well as down; there needs to be space for wheelchairs to get in and out on both levels. Many staircases simply don’t allow the width for a lift, single flight ones in particular. With a two flight staircase which has a turn on a half-landing, it's more likely that there'll be space for a lift. However, the staircase is often the only access method for getting furniture upstairs, so that needs to be considered if the staircase is to disappear completely.

Wheelchair Lifts

The vertical platform lift is perhaps a better idea for access to upper floors in a home. Many of them are some self-supporting and can be installed in a corner of a room to simply go up or down through a hole in the ceiling. Installation is easier as the lift doesn’t need any support.

The difficulties come from finding a corner of a room downstairs which corresponds to a corner in a room upstairs where the person using it actually wants to go. If you have space to put one in a hall which comes out on a landing and still have room to keep the staircase, then that's probably the closest to a perfect solution.

Stairlifts – the Popular Solution

Stairlifts are less of an issue all round, but the mechanism does intrude on the staircase to a certain degree. The track is fixed to the wall on one side of the staircase and is custom-made to fit the curves and rises of each staircase. Stairlifts are quite common now as they are the most cost-effective access solution, with prices starting from just over £1500 for a short, straight staircase. Obviously the more complex the staircase the more expensive the stairlift.

Many companies rely on the buyer measuring the staircase but it is suggested that it might be better if you select one where the company sends someone out to make those measurements.

This might cost more, but it means that if there's a problem fitting the stairlift then the installation company has nowhere to hide. If you make the measurements it can be blamed on you.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Martin Lockett
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    How do I apply for the renovation grant can you send me a link or something thanks
    23 August 2020
  • Dean chapel
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    we have recently brought a 1899 chapel and been given planning permission it is in need of a complete renovation insulation ,…
    14 August 2020
  • Nessa
    Re: Pointing and Brickwork Care
    I would like to enquire about a grants for my home
    12 February 2020
  • Nessa
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    I would like to enquire about grants for my home
    12 February 2020
  • Hat
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    I would like to enquire about grants for my home
    12 February 2020
  • ricky
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    This information is false. I work for a large local authority and there is no money for renovation grants in the budget. This is the…
    18 December 2019
  • dilem
    Re: Adding A Porch
    We have a terraced house on which we would like to add a porch hoping it will reduce traffic noise coming from the road. There are exactly two…
    3 September 2019
  • Holland&holland
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    Were in the process of placing an offer on a very large welsh property. Built in the 1700s by a very well known architect. Its in a…
    26 April 2019
  • Junick
    Re: Getting a Renovation Grant
    I own a cottage that we bought as a garage/store. It has no electric or water to the property but it was owned at one time by the…
    4 April 2019
  • Art
    Re: Adding A Porch
    Just bought new house need to build porch.. please contact on 07445430526
    3 April 2019