Home Lift


Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
I'd say go for it
If you listen to this lot of unqualified armchair critics long enough ....you'd need to plan for the sky to fall in on your head . ;)

These lifts are not rocket science they have been well designed and approved and are in use all over the country.

They are not just for people that have a disability either, they can free up very valuable floor space in some smaller or older homes with poor layout and allow for much needed rearrangement of room space within the home.
My bold.

I think that's the rub on a home made one, right there. ☝︎
I have gone through a similar process with a stairlift for my mother.

New, they are extortionately expensive because they are well designed and well made and hence very safe.

Sadly, because of the circumstances of most users there are many second hand ones about. The manufacturers try extremely hard to make it difficult to refit them in a different property by rigorously guarding drawings of any description.

We bought one very cheaply second hand, the chap who sold it to us took a lot of very good detailed photos that proved invaluable as one wire had popped out and without the photos I would not have known which terminal out of dozens it came from.

When my Mum passed on we repeated the process; it went to a new home complete with photos and after a couple of phone calls for advice they had it up and running.

There is nothing in the law to state they they cannot be retro fitted by a competent person, most run from a 13 amp socket so the electrical side is easily covered by your friendly sparky giving it the once over and a PAT test.

There are increasing numbers of ex Stannah etc. fitters who go on their own providing just such a service (after probably waiting out a restraint of trade period).

There are far fewer vertical lifts on the second hand market because there are far fewer sold. But they are out there, it's just a question of finding one that can be modified/ adapted easily. Admittedly getting one to go higher than originally designed is a going to be a lot trickier than decreasing the lift distance.

I don't really recommend the idea of building your own though..... I built one once for someone to lift logs from a basement up to the ground floor, but it was rather basic and although we did ride it during installation and testing, I would certainly not have put my aged Mum in it. That one was based around the mechanism of an old car lift that was being scrapped. It was the type that had rotating threaded bars, so it was inherently safe in failure.
I had always presumed that these small lifts were based on a hydraulic scissor lift rather than string and pulleys. Hydraulic lifts are a fail safeish system and only load the ground floor so would need less structural work.
Stannah do a hydraulic one, all the others I looked at were worm & screw. Didn't see any which use cables, but I didn't look at oligarch sized ones - I imagine there must come a point where your "domestic lift" is just like one you'd see in a hotel/shop/office/death star.

Cables would use the usual fall-arrestor mechanism.

Worm/screw safety is based on the mechanical property that it won't run in reverse - i.e. the motor can turn the screw and move the worm up/down but you can't turn the screw by moving the worm, so gravity can't drag the platform down.

Hydraulic, I guess, uses non-return valves. I didn't look much at the Stannah - it fell early for being too wide for me. I expect they are quieter (if you can put the pump etc away from living spaces), but the hydraulic unit isn't small, and servicing intervals are shorter.

Basically two "shaft" options.

One is an essentially self-supporting steel frame with the load all transmitted down to a concrete slab. Shallow (50mm-ish) "pit" optional to allow the floor of the platform to sit flush. Through-floor holes have to be very precise (obviously directly above each other) and precisely sized - the frame passes through them, and you don't want wobble-room. The frame is fixed through to joists/stringers and the rear wall in places to keep it steady, but pull-out loads are small. Walls can be made of whatever you want, or even not be there if you don't mind seeing the frame and there are a couple of places to do the lateral fixing.

Second is you just have the rear mast and mechanism and build your own shaft around 3 sides.
Actually – just realised that I’ve described what I’ve been looking at, as I need a 3-floor travel (ground, 1st,2nd). If you only have 2 floors to connect there are ones where you don’t have “lift doors” etc, and the roof of the cabin plugs the hole in the upper floor.


More than 2 floors though is no good unless you like the awful plunge of death look..
I think 3 motor cycle lifts stacked on top with a bit of no nails should sort...

You'll need Ramps to get on top of the lifts also available from machine Mart!*🤣🤣🤣

*Other places are available.....
Through floor wheelchair lift, often seen on gumtree and facebook free subject to collector repairing holes! Offered two but unfortunately we have 10ft ceilings so cobled together some old stannahs. Worked out fine.
Houst210..thank you.

Snap to 10 ft ground floor ceiling height.
9' 1st floor ceiling
7'-6" 2nd floor ceiling

We might get a stannah or similar to work with the (servants) original back of house staircase but it discharges awkwardly at 1st floor level and also a (possibly solvable) problem at ground floor.

Do you know of any good links for me to research regarding such as stannah staircase lifts.

Thank you for your input.

Edit: I hope I am right I am accepting a 'stannah' to be a staircase lift i.e. something on rails running up/down a staircase
Last edited:
I think Stannah have field engineers / salesmen that come out to visit and give you a quote, but sit down first!

Those lifts look a lot easier, don't impact existing stairs, ( fire escape ) and just up / down.
A few months ago we had similar thoughts. Fortunately we are both ok, but looking to the longer term we need a contingency plan - downsize, move closer to kids, stay where we are etc.

As I quite like where we live and ideally would prefer not to be a burden on the kids (in their 30s now) we looked at options in our current house - 4 bed detached extended at ground floor level.
  1. Stair lift. Seems like a lot of money for something really very simple. Stairs bend 90 degrees with mini landing adds to complexity. Permanent reminder of infirmity is unattractive.
  2. Convert attached workshop to downstairs bedroom. Plenty of square feet but building regs a costly problem - insulation, need to increase headroom. If I lose mobility to the point I can't manage stairs, then I would probably need a new hobby anyway
  3. Extend upstairs - main bedroom suite and lift. Most costly solution. Lift seems expensive but could be designed so that removal would just leave two large cupboards.
  4. Convert a single storey extension presently used as office/grandchild playroom into bedroom and en-suite. Cheaper options 2 and 3 and much less disruptive.
It is clear that stair lift and lift companies know most folk only act when a solution is time critical and charge accordingly. I suspect many act in haste and may subsequently regret the outcome.

With a plan (what to do IF), any impediments can be solved in good time reducing costs and timescales - plans drawn up, planning permission if required, understand costs rather than being surprised etc.
Hi Terry
Thank you, these matters need determining while you still have some mobility and brain cell activity.
My lady recently spent a week in hospital as a result of a defective knee and as such I/we need to plan ahead... she is recovering and at this moment is in the greenhouse watering her tomato plants BUT what of the future for her and me. We were both born before Hitler was defeated.
Companies can generally charge excessive prices when you have to say to them "I need something done yesterday".
BTW I like your idea of cupboards to cover up the holes in the floor/ceiling when the lifts are pulled out in preparation for a house sale.
Bit of a boring attitude though, and if everyone followed it noone would do anything. Where do you think the commercial manufacturers come from except some entrepreneur wondering "How can I make an....?"

And yes, a bunch of random input is helpful for things like this. The whole process depends on identifying potential risks and managing them. If you don't do that you're not doing your job. Asking for external input throws at least some of the things you didn't even consider into the mix.

My input here is as a recent home insurance claims handler: this  could raise issues if it became the basis of a claim. Most of the potential claims I see we would almost certainly put a loss adjuster on who would start asking questions. If it complies with applicable building and wiring regs that would only leave gross negligence as grounds for refusal after installation. I can see how that would apply (something of a mechanical nature without appropriate safeguards) but it's difficult for us to prove.

If you compromise the structure of the building actually doing the work generally you won't be covered under the modification provisions. That goes double for e.g. subsidence or collapsing wall claims where we would do a survey as a matter of course.

My advice would be to talk to the local fire brigade first. Of all the public sector they tend to be the most helpful simply because they spend so time in reserve. I'd be paranoid about fire transferring between floors with something like a lift.
Thanks AJS

I am a retired fireman with a lot of years as a senior officer and a bit of home office commitment. You are correct about fire transfer but in our home it can be correctly solved; indeed my solution would improve fire containment.

AND I agree with and thank you again for supporting my asking of the question; the only stooopid questions are those not asked and if you can find a group of wide ranging thinkers, such as this forum, to ask a question of...you are onto a winner.
Make a second floor balcony and park an electric forklift outside or a sloped conveyer up and a slide down. 😉

My buddy (aircraft mechanic) and his dad (plant engineer) set up a dumb waiter for his father in law using garage door rails and a winch (better/bigger than suggested in the opening post) between the garage and kitchen. There were door interlocks to make sure it wouldn't operate unless both top and bottom doors were closed and the inside of the shaft was double drywalled for fire resistance. I'm not sure how they got around the sealing of exhaust fumes between the garage and living space. It worked well enough but it is a far cry from an elevator and I doubt that they would have attempted one because of the regulations and liabilities here. I think all multi story houses should be constructed (closets align from floor to floor) to allow an elevator to be retrofitted easily but as most builders are looking for any shortcuts they can make and buyers are looking for fashion not substance, it's never going to happen.

You could try searching for Home Elevator Kits.


clogs you just have to remember to look both ways before exiting the elevator and hope the cab isn't sideswiped by a passing truck. 😊
What stops it crushing someone on the ground?

What happens if the cable breaks?

What happens if it gets stuck part way?
Hi Richard C

Thank you for your input.

I am reviewing all options with the fall back situation of having a commercial firm come and fit a lift.

I am however of the opinion that such commercial companies have the attitude "if at their age they need our services we can charge a high fee".

I agree with almost all you say, I also would not want to trust a lift that an unknown person had installed.

I presently have the ability, with the available help I have, to cut through ceiling and floor joists to fit the homemade lift/elevator and when needed have a local builder come in to take out the lift/elevator and make repairs to the ceiling & floor then have a decorator to do his/her work and finish with a carpet layer.

Again thank you for your input; I put my question to listen to other persons views.

Best Regards
Richard M
Richard, this is a vexed question for many. We all have different backgrounds and what would be commonplace and acceptable for some would have others screaming.
Many of us amateurs have capabilities far greater than many, so called experts. I had an eicr done on my electrics by a qualified ‘electrician’ recently. I am a professor of mining engineering with a keen interest in electrical installation and this guy did a very shoddy job, missing out several important tests and fudging others, missing completely some major issues that I knew were there and wanted checking.
My point is that he is ‘qualified’ and I am not but I would not dream of accepting his word.
Frankly, putting a small passenger lift in is not such a big job as long as it’s designed well with failsafes for the failure modes identified. I am thinking of doing the same one day.
As long as the engineering is sound and the design has been well thought out (and exposed to others that you trust for comment) There is absolutely no reason why it can’t be done by a competent amateur.
By the way, your comments re the high prices for anything to do with the disabled are bang on. Take a look at the offerings in this market and compare the prices. I suspect it’s because much of the cost to the end user will be subsidised and they can get away with it.
The same as happens in a commercial one if you have done the job right
When I asked

What stops it crushing someone on the ground?
What happens if the cable breaks?
What happens if it gets stuck part way?

I was referring to this:

Thank you everyone for your input.

All comments have been worth considering and albeit I agree with some more than others I will never ignore advice but I will never be a defeatist.

I did not realise how many systems existed worldwide until following some of the comments in this thread (thank you Inspector and others).

I have learned a lot and I will continue to read and review and research all new thoughts produced by members of this forum.

I consider this forum to be of an exceptionally high value and of course that means I consider members of this forum to have wide ranging expertise generally supplying exceptionally high value.

I may or not reply again but I hope my original question will be of assistance to others it certainly is of high value to me.

Best regards and thank you all.

Richard M (AKA quintain)
The annoying thing is that the stairlift companies charge you £80 to remove a stairlift when you no longer need it and sell it on as "re-furbished". They are very simple and,apart from plugg into the mains they operate on low voltage. Two of my neighbours had them removed on the same day by the same company. Being the magpie that I am I would have have loved to have dismantled them free of charge but had nowhere to store them until I or my wife needed one. Yes, disability is big business!

Latest posts