You may recall last year reading my post, Ramping Up The Mods – It’s a Dogs Life , in which Gaz and I were modifying our home to enable me to retain as much accessibility as possible. Well six months and two seasons after completion I hereby announce the completion of the installation of our residential elevator and roll in ensuite bathroom/wet room. Yee hah!!
It’s been a busy old time in between and I have been very tardy on keeping up to my promise of the ‘after’ report. I also have to admit to not being too sure how to make this sound interesting. But then I realised that if you are not interested for personal reasons such as you or someone you know might be facing a similar decision, you could just be like a lot of us and enjoy looking at what people do to their homes – me included.
There’s not a saturation of home building, real estate purchasing and house renovation shows for the lack of voyeurs…I mean viewers. We can’t get seem to get enough of it.
So here is my contribution to the craze.
THE PLANNING AND RESEARCH
I have previously mentioned the decision-making process that led to modifying our home and staying here for the foreseeable future in my post – The Only Way Is Up. Once that decision was made the planning and research was next.
First learning point- engineering 101 – there are traditionally two types of elevator systems : Hydraulic and traction style (or Rope-and-Pulley).
They both have their strengths and detractions particularly when considering for residential use. Historically they have been cumbersome and there can be a requirement for extra space to house the control room. Like any big purchase I thoroughly recommend asking loads of questions including recommendations from current owners. Unlike a new TV or washing machine this decision could alter your homes resale value and is at worst fairly irreversible.
As good fortune and these modern times would have it there are now machine room–less traction style lifts. In Australia there is still not a huge range of these lifts and they seem to all have similar pricing. Gaz and I chose to use the The Lift Shop Australia. Their lower priced Italian manufactured P2 model uses an electric screw drive system which is, as I understand it, a modern day traction system. As my condition, Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy affects my arms we paid extra for a remote control for ease of entry and egress on both doors- vital money spend.
I initially invited the builder (another recommendation) to liaise with suppliers sales team to establish just where the heck we could install this new addition. There was a lot of discussion: how to avoid steel beams in the floor of the first floor; where will it be functional and aesthetically non-imposing; is external an option? Between Rob the builder and Kristian the sales consultant they came up with a very elegant solution .
STOREY BOOK ENDING
It is not at all obvious that my beaut new elevator was retro fitted – in fact it’s position is just not that obvious . Cleverly using a not very useful wall between the kitchen and front room downstairs and charmingly tucked into a purpose built alcove upstairs this magic machine has taken very little of two bedrooms in creating the lift shaft. With clever solution finding once again by the suppliers the small operations brain box (control area) is tucked ideally away at the rear of one of the bedroom wardrobes.
After about 4 weeks of sawing, screwing, hammering, phone line connection (for the lift’s safety phone -sparky also required), pre-commission testing and problem solving we had lift off. Then another week or so of plastering, painting, replacing and adding skirtings and architraves to achieve the “been here forever” look.
Our model of lift has an aluminium ramp included to enable smooth entry but as it would be going on carpet in our case it would be too high. Also in the time between lift ordering (Dec 2016) and installation (July 2017) my ability to push myself in the manual chair up even a 5mm ramp became increasingly difficult. I need a longer gradient to enable ease of ingress to my lift. Until we re-carpet this year and can create a small “hill” before laying it we have a creatively ad hoc arrangement placed at the ground floor doorway. This under-packing of flooring was achieved also at the lift doorway for the 2-4mm increase needed upstairs where we replaced carpet with vinyl timber look flooring – an extremely hardy and wheelchair friendly product!!
I hope you enjoy the before and after photos nearly as much as I enjoy the expansion of my physical home space. I’ve added some links below for anyone interested in making their home all accessible . I am always happy to discuss any aspect that I can with you as well. Just drop me a line.
While we’re talking home mods we have also completed our accessible bathroom reno and showering has never been so enjoyable. Have you or someone you know been through the same experience or tried an alternative? How was it for them? It’d be great to hear from you.