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Question DetailsAsked on 10/9/2015

How difficult is it to install wheelchair lift?

Intend to purchase AmeriGlide Hercules II wheelchair lift and install in an unfinished basement with exit in spare bedroom. Looks like cutting exact size whole in floor, boxing in the exit, and hooking to electrical.

May be a limit of expertise and looking for any guidance as to the degree of difficulty for such an installation.

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1 Answer


Not quite as simple as that, though they want you to think so - the installation instructions are WAYYYY simple for what is actually needed - you should have a General Contractor with elevator install experience or an Elevator installer on this, because the code requirements for lifts are many and strict.

here are some things that need to be done - not an exhaustive list I am sure.

0) make sure that manufacturer / model you are choosing is approved for use in your area, especially if in large city, because some have individual certifications required for elevators and do not approve many of the small parsonal lift copmpanuy products.

1) The slab has to be 4" reinforced concrete - basement slab is usually not 4" and commonly not "reinforced" even if it has a mesh layer in it, so will likely need a base pad cut into the floor as a deepened floor section to mount it on (hopefully not where there is embedded or buried piping).

2) Then unit has to be mounted, trued-up so it rises perfectly vertical.

3) Then the floor above has to be cut out EXACTLY where the lift will pass through (actually this is likely to be done BEFORE the mounting of the unit, so it hits exactly where it should without having to cut through unnecessary floor joists) - which means accurate measurements and cutting, in a location where it will not interfere with anything like upstairs walls or utility runs and at an acceptable place with respect to floor joists. And hopefully in such a place so it can be readily removed if you move and the opening and floor and such readily restored to original condition - so take that into consideration (resale value of house) in deciding how to put protective measures around the upper floor opening and such.

4) Also, because the opening width is over 36" wide by 4-5 feet long you have to cut through at least one and possibly a many a 4 floor joists depending on your joist spacing and the lift orientation to the joists (should try to align the long dimension of the lift platform with the joists to minimize number needing cutting to hopefully just 1, if joist spacing is 24").

5) One cut joist can generally (depending on what is on floor above) be cut and blocked out around the opening, tying the opening framing into the adjacent joists with some doubling up as necessary. Will require Structural engineer to assess how to do the cut and the reinforcement around the opening and to transfer the house loads around the opening. Several joists cut is a major deal and may require building walls in the basement to support the floor - much like a regular elevator shaft. Can be a major issue if you have LVL or glulam joists or widely spaced major beams rather than normal 2x floor joists.

5) Then you need the smooth fascia panels (probably with backing stud walls to meet code) enclosing the lift area to avoid pinch points per the drawings, all the way up the floor above.

6) Then blocking out protective halfwalls or railings around the opening above, plous any other locally required safety measures

7) either an automatically closing trap door installed, or an automatically locking gate protecting the open shaft.

8) Should have dedicated electrical circuit serving its outlet

9) need wiring to the call controls on floor above

10) probably safety interlock wiring and installation, especially if has trap door above

11) phone wire connection to the elevator for emergency call use

12) possibly better lighting at the loading/unloading points

13) possibly backup battery pack installation

14) of course, do not install in basement with probability of flooding - or if shallow flooding has happened, perhaps install on a raised concrete pad with wheelchair accessible ramp leading down to slab

A lot of things when you come down to it, and you are typically talking several thousand $ installation cost - probably absolute best-case minimum of $1000 range at least.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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