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A Safe & Secure Home Elevator: The Elevator Installation Process

Residential Elevator Hoist Way Construction Explained

In the construction industry, one occasionally hears carpenters, builders and remodelers refer to residential elevator hoist ways as simple projects, no more complicated to build than walk-in closets. But they’re wrong. Hoist ways are anything but simple; not only do they call for adherence to strict structural and safety codes, but they also require reconfiguring the structure of each floor through which it’s built. Since they are often misunderstood, we decided to explain what goes into building residential elevator hoist ways.

Securing Home Elevator Hoist Way Walls

An experienced residential elevator contractor can build the walls of a residential elevator shaft with concrete, masonry, wood or metal framing, or any combination thereof. Besides the material used, the most important thing to consider when building a hoist way is its safety and soundness.

The shaft walls have to be very strong – strong enough to withstand the forces exerted by a moving elevator whose total weight, including occupants, comes to about 1,000 pounds. In addition, residential elevator shafts cannot share space with any other wires, ducts or pipes.

Most importantly, each floor the elevator passes through has to be structurally modified. In most modern platform construction homes, joists span each floor from wall to wall and are supported by footers. When your elevator contractors cut out a space for the hoist they have to cut through joists as well; therefore, they need to transfer the bearing of that load.

Making Residential Elevators Safe
According to building codes (and common sense), residential elevator hoist ways have to be finished in fire resistant materials. Many architects, contractors and remodelers will say that there is no code provision for single-family home elevator hoist way fire ratings and so don’t address it. But the code is especially clear when it comes to fire transfer, which occurs when fire spreads from one home to another one nearby. But it’s true: fire safety codes are not as strict when it comes to safety within your own home. That’s why it is up to you and your residential elevator contractor to use common sense to protect your family. We will work closely with you to make your home elevator a safe and secure place, complete with the latest fire-safe materials.

Home Elevator Pit
Residential elevators are supported on the bottom by L-shaped frames. Therefore, in order for the cab to stop at a point even with the floor, a small pit has to be dug to make room for the framework. Some residential elevator manufacturers have new, pitless products that suspend the cabin from an inverted L-frame. Since the bottom of the elevator has a minimum thickness of 1″, however, a shallow pit still has to be dug.

Residential Elevator Hallway Doors & Call Station
Elevators usually have folding accordion doors, made of vinyl, metal or wood, and each landing has a door as well. The location of the door and distance to the edge of the shaft is dictated by the 3 and 5 rule. This states that the back of the door cannot be more than 3″ from the edge of the hoist way, or more than 5″ from the hoist way gate. Residential elevator doors also feature an interlock, the mechanism that ensures that the neither door can open until the elevator is at the right level.

If you are a builder, architect, or remodeler seeking more information on hoist way construction for the benefit of a customer or client click here to request more information.
Shaft-less Home Elevators: No Hoist Way!
At Signature Elevators & Accessible Design, we represent some great elevator manufacturers whose traditional approach to home elevators require a hoist way and pit. But we also represent a very unique residential elevator manufacturer that makes a pneumatic vacuum elevator. This elevator is essentially made of an inner and outer tube – the inner tube being the cabin. Pneumatic vacuum elevators are especially unique because they don’t require a hoist way or pit! Of course, holes still must be cut in the floor, but the installation process for a pneumatic vacuum elevator is still much quicker and simpler than that of a traditional elevator. Click here to learn more about this amazing residential elevator.


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