Elevator Installation Cost

The average cost of installing an elevator in a house is $30,000.

In this guide

Dimensions and features
New construction vs. retrofit
Size of the house
Location
Types
Brands
Elevator style
Labor
Installation process
Enhancement and improvement costs
Additional considerations and costs
FAQ

How much does it cost to install an elevator?

Having a home elevator can be life changing for many people. Elevators can help reduce the strain of carrying items up and down stairs, assist those with mobility issues, and help aging homeowners stay in their own homes as issues such as arthritis arise.

There are three types of elevators that can be added to the home, with two versions available for retrofitting an existing home. They can be built into the home to appear decorative and concealed, or they can be added right out in the open, installed solely for functional purposes.

The two most common types of elevators installed in the home today are hydraulic and pneumatic. Hydraulic elevators have an average cost of $20,000 - $30,000 for the elevator itself, with installation pushing the total cost to around $40,000 - $45,000 or higher. Pneumatic elevators are easier to install with a total cost of around $35,000 - $50,000 on average.

Dimensions and features

The type of elevator you choose can ultimately impact its installation and final cost due to size and what features you may desire.

Building codes in most areas limit the size of a residential elevator to 18 sq.ft. or less in size. To accommodate a hydraulic elevator of these dimensions, an area 5 sq.ft. must be able to be blocked off. Hydraulic elevators are built into your home. They may be concealed behind a door or a bookcase, and most are decorated or finished to appear as though they have always been a part of the house.

However, vacuum or pneumatic elevators take up less space; 3’x4’ is usually sufficient room for one occupant in a wheelchair, which most smaller pneumatic elevators are designed to carry. Even larger elevators may only hold one or two occupants at a time, and most have weight limits of 450 to 500 pounds. Pneumatic elevators are a clear or transparent tube that is out in the open in the home. They have fewer features or decorative options, but because of this take up significantly less space and cost less to install. They can also be place in areas that have less room.

New construction vs. retrofit

The easiest time to add an elevator to a home is during new construction. The elevator shaft can be added anywhere at this time, giving you more options for things like size, concealment, or decorative features. An elevator with a cable drum, which gives you more flexibility for size, can be put into a new home, because you have the room to install the motor behind the lift itself. Cable driven elevators tend to cost less than hydraulic elevators, making them the better choice for new construction, with a total cost of $20,000, rather than $40,000 for a hydraulic elevator, meaning that you can get a custom elevator that is concealed for less if you build in new construction.

Retrofitting an elevator into an existing home is possible, but depends largely on the amount of space available. Hydraulic lifts take up more space and require a shaft to be built, as well as room for the machinery, which ends up driving the cost to a minimum of $45,000. This cost can go up much higher if additional construction is necessary to fit the elevator and conceal it, up to $100,000 in some cases. Pneumatic lifts take up less space and can be added nearly anywhere, but are very visible within the home. They can be retrofit nearly anywhere for around $35,000, making them the most affordable choice when retrofitting, although the smallest and least attractive.

Size of the house

Many elevators sold for homes today are known as two-stop elevators, meaning that they access two floors. If your home needs more than one floor accessed, you may need a three or four stop elevator, which can increase the total cost by about $10,000 per floor.

Location

In new construction, the elevator can be installed virtually anywhere, as you can build to suit. However when adding an elevator to an existing home, you may be more limited in where you can install it. Pneumatic lifts can be placed nearly anywhere. The “shaft” is a tube that can be placed in the middle of a room, against a wall, or hidden away behind a closet, depending where you have space..

Hydraulic lifts, however, need significantly more space. They are also designed to be enclosed or concealed, so they have more restrictions in location. Some people choose to build a shaft into existing spaces, such as family rooms, simply taking away from their existing living space. Others choose to use areas such as closets, stairwells, atriums, or to build onto the exterior of the building, bumping out the footprint to install the elevator.

In any of these cases, accessibility should be the number one concern; how easy is it to get to and from the elevator, and how much space are you sacrificing from the rest of your living area. Most installers can advise you on where the best location may be within your home based on the type of elevator you are considering.

Types

Ultimately, there are essentially five types of home elevators being offered today. Depending on the manufacturer, there may be variations within the five types, but the basic mechanics remain the same. Of these five, hydraulic and pneumatic are the most commonly found in homes.

  • In a cable driven elevator, a cable is wound around a turning drum, which raises and lowers the elevator. This drum requires significant space in addition to the shaft itself, which makes it impractical for retrofit installations.
  • In chain drive elevators, a counterweight attached to a chain travels in the opposite direction of the elevator car. This requires the shaft to be much larger as well, although it doesn't need a separate motor room like the cable driven elevator does.
  • In a hydraulic elevator, a ram is used to push the elevator straight up or down. It takes up less space, although you need to have some room above or below the shaft for the device.
  • Gearless traction elevators are very uncommon in homes, but work like either with a cable or chain elevator, but without gears in the motor to turn it. They work best in tall buildings as they are built for speed.
  • Pneumatic elevators use a vacuum tube to pull the car up or down. They take up the least space, but are highly visible.
Elevator TypeProsCons
Pneumatic ($35,00-$50,000)Energy efficient and eco-friendlyVery visible and meant to be placed in the open
Cable Driven ($15,000-$30,000)Good for new constructionThe cable stretches and can break, needs to be replaced every 5 years
Hydraulic ($20,000-$50,000)Doesn't require a machine room, better at retrofitting than cable-drivenCable must be replaced every 5 years
Chain Driven ($20,000-$50,000)Chain doesn't breakNoisy and impractical for residential installation
Gearless ($20,000-$50,000)Less maintenanceNot practical for most homes, best used in commercial settings or very tall buildings


Brands

There are numerous manufacturers of residential elevators. The one you choose should ultimately be based on how well their particular elevators will meet your needs.

BrandProsCons

Easy Climber - hydraulic

($10,000-$15,000)

Installs very quicklyHighly visible

Crystal - hydraulic or cable driven

($20,000-$30,000)

Custom madeFewer options for retrofitting

Inclinator - hydraulic or cable driven

($20,000-$30,000)

Several cab styles and drive systems to choose fromMade to order, so long build and installation times

Stiltz - hydraulic

($15,000-$20,000)

Small, shaftless elevator good for retrofittingLimited in height of the operation
Stratus - hydraulic ($20,000-$30,000)QuietCan only travel 15 feet


Elevator style

Home elevators come in a very wide range of cab styles. Some are extremely plain, with glass, plexiglass, or metal walls. Others may have custom cab designs available or a range of different options, including decorative wood paneling in several finishes and colors.

Ultimately, small and shaftless elevators tend to have plain or non existent cabs, and cost less overall, while elevators with larger cabs have more decorative and nicer options, but costs will start at least $10,000 higher. Elevators with cabs usually have options for wood paneling, as well as metal walls. Costs are usually negligible between the different cab models, as each company usually as their own. If you wish to have a custom built elevator cab, options may include tile, wainscoting, wood paneling, and faux painting, any of which may increase the cost significantly, with many custom elevators costing $100,000 or more.

The same is true with the exterior of the elevator. Shaftless models have either a clear tube or door, or a basic folding door and will cost less, while a more decorative or concealed elevator cab will cost significantly more. If you truly wish to conceal the elevator, it can add as much as $27,000 to the final price tag.

Labor

The majority of residential elevators are installed by the manufacturers or companies that sell them. This is because each type of elevator is unique not only to the manufacturer, but also the setting it will be installed in.

In many cases, the cost of installation is included in the total cost of the elevator itself, particularly for those elevators which are easy to install and do not require a shaft or significant construction. Installation costs can vary widely depending on the location of the elevator, the type of elevator, whether it requires a shaft, and how many floors the elevator needs to climb. Expect installation costs to start around $4,000 and go as high as $50,000 for some larger jobs.

For elevators that do require a shaft or significant remodeling of the home, you may be given a total cost for the elevator only after a representative has been out to view the space and you have selected the model you desire.

Shaftless elevators are fairly easy to install, and can usually be put in within one to three days. An elevator that requires a shaft and a machine room, however, can take three to four weeks to install, and may include not only cutting holes between the floors, but also building a room for the machinery and for the cab. Most cabs, even those that are custom built, will arrive either assembled or nearly so, making the biggest part of the labor being the modification of your home, which is usually included in installation by the company, however some companies may require additional carpentry work at $70 an hour; check with the installer to be sure before purchasing.

Installation process

The actual installation process for your elevator can also vary widely depending on the type and location. For shaftless elevators, installation may be as simple and positioning the lift, running the electricity, and cutting and finishing the holes between the floors.

For elevators that do require a shaft, the process can still vary depending on whether you need a separate machine room, whether the shaft will be concealed, and where the shaft may be located. Using a closet will result in a very different type of installation that building onto the side of the house.

If you need a shaft, the general procedure will involve pouring a concrete pit, with 12-inch thick floors and 8-inch thick walls. Door openings will be cut, which can be as wide as a hallway or as narrow as a standard door, depending on your needs and the size of the cab. Remember that cabs cannot be larger than 18 sq. ft. square. If your elevator requires a machine room, this will be installed next. The machine room size will vary depending on the motor, but will require a door opening of at least 30-inches wide for access. Hydraulic lifts will need the machinery installed either above or below the elevator inside the shaft. In either case, the electricity is run to the area, then the cab is built right in place.

Elevators with hydraulic lifts, as well as cable drums will also require some kind of access panel built into the cab so that regular maintenance can be carried out. The majority of modern elevators are also equipped with a backup battery system in case of power failure so that you are never without access. These types of modifications are usually built into the total cost.  

All elevators will require a permit and inspection to ensure their safety. ASME safety codes are in place to ensure that your elevator is installed properly and will function as it needs to. Your technician should instruct you in the use of the elevator and show you the various access points prior to inspection and use so that you are comfortable with the process. In many cases, overrides or safety devices may be recommended to help your elevator be more secure. Over speed valves are recommended for hydraulic lifts in particular; they sense when the elevator may be accelerating in speed to failure, and will halt the lift in place. Many of these types of precautions are included in the price of the elevator, although some may cost additional $1000 and up if they are not.

Enhancement and improvement costs

  • While some elevators are strictly utilitarian and have no customization or design options, other elevators can be custom built to your specifications. If you want to have an elevator that matches the rest of your decor and fits in well with the rest of your home, this is an option that may work for you. Custom designs start around $50,000 installed and can go as high as $100,000.
  • Some elevators function simply with a single switch you hold up or down. Others can have electronic panels, however, that allow a greater ease of use, including calling the elevator for a second user and the ability to simply push a button rather than holding a switch. These panels add $500 to $1,000 to the total cost.

Additional considerations and costs

  • There are a number of factors that can influence the cost of your elevator. Not only the type of elevator and machinery that you choose, but also the area you are located in, the dealer you purchase your elevator from, what options you may need, and the architecture of your home.
  • Some areas may have higher costs for both the elevator and installation. Some homes may require more carpentry or electrical work for installation. Always get at least three quotes for each elevator and installer to ensure you are getting the best deal for your area.
  • While elevators are expensive, there are subsidies and tax benefits that can significantly lower the cost of the project. Any medical expenses over 7.5% of your income can be written off for a substantial savings. See your accountant for more information.
  • Elevators can be seen as a way to increase the value of your home, particularly if they are built at the time your home is built, or if they are custommade. You may find that you can recoup a minimum of 50% of the total cost at time of resale, and in some areas even more.
  • Make sure to pay attention to the location of the elevator not only for use, but also for installation so can ensure the protection of your furnishings.
  • Elevators should always be installed by a certified professional. If the company you purchase from does not install, ask for a list of recommended installers that know their product.
  • Your elevator should be inspected annually to make sure it is functioning properly. Most companies that sell elevators will also schedule inspections as well. Inspection fees start around $75, and increase depending on the size and type of the elevator.
  • Elevators are subject to building permits in most areas, with permit costs starting around $200 to $1,000. Speak to your city or town hall for more information before you schedule installation.
  • Some custom elevators may include a phone line, which can enable you to call for help if necessary, with the cost of the custom design including the wiring necessary. Most standard designs are not equipped to have a phone added.

FAQ

  • How much does it cost to install an elevator in a house?

The average cost of installation of the elevator is around $10,000 for a total average cost of $25,000-$30,000.

  • How much is a pneumatic vacuum elevator?

The cost of a pneumatic vacuum elevator is around $35,000.

  • How much does it cost to install a commercial elevator?

Commercial elevators have costs starting at around $50,000, and may go up from there depending on the number of floors being serviced.

  • How much does it cost to install a stairlift?

The average cost of installing a stairlift is around $3,000 to $5,000.

  • How much does an elevator cost for a 3 story building?

The cost of an elevator for a 3 story building can range from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on type and location.

  • What is the additional cost to go basement to second floor?

The cost of each additional floor from a standard two stop elevator increases by about $10,000 total, with most ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 depending on type of elevator.

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Cost to install an elevator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Berkeley, CA
+39%
Birmingham, AL
+6%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Cape Coral, FL
-9%
Chandler, AZ
-2%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Columbia, MO
-19%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Downey, CA
+9%
Dublin, CA
+35%
Easton, PA
+13%
Evansville, IN
+7%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Grand Rapids, MI
+7%
Honolulu, HI
+35%
Houston, TX
+24%
Huntington Beach, CA
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jaffrey, NH
+6%
Jersey City, NJ
+23%
Kamuela, HI
+13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Maysville, KY
+2%
Miami, FL
+1%
Murfreesboro, TN
-7%
New Orleans, LA
+35%
New York, NY
+77%
Nokomis, FL
-11%
Oakland, CA
+36%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Port Saint Lucie, FL
-18%
Portland, OR
+11%
Rochester, NY
+6%
Russell, IA
-43%
Sacramento, CA
+8%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
Saint Petersburg, FL
-11%
Salt Lake City, UT
-6%
San Francisco, CA
+53%
Santa Ana, CA
+20%
Seattle, WA
+9%

Labor cost in your zip code

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Methodology and sources