Why don't more high priced homes have elevators?

Around here most people when they get older and can no longer handle climbing up stairs, usually move to a single story home.

But being that a home elevator costs about $20,000 (less than the price of a new kitchen, about the same as a new bathroom) I wonder why more homes do not have them?

We live in Overland Park Kansas, a fairly well off Kansas City suburb and a person can buy a very spacious home for $500,000. They are building many in the $700,000 to $1 million range. At that price what is a mere $20,000 which could save years of having to lug heavy things upstairs and allow persons with limited mobility the run of the whole house?

Most houses are not built with space for a large vertical shaft.

Stair lifts are a common retrofit for the well-off invalid.

My house was designed with space for an elevator. It’s currently configured as closet space, but designed with no plumbing etc passing through. So installing an elevator is relatively simple.

Yeah, Google indicates that a stair lift costs between $3000 and $5000. Much less expensive than $20K for an elevator.

$20,000 to put in, but what are the maintenance costs? I could be wrong, but I’m guessing it might be quite a bit more expensive to maintain than the average household appliances.

This sounds like a good idea. On This Old House recently, they toured a home in Seattle that was “designed for accessibility” including closets stacked in such a way that an elevator could be added later.

But there are other things you’d need to do to make the home usable by someone in a wheelchair. Ideally, the space below the cooktop would be open enough that you could cook from a seated position. You would need a zero-clearance shower so you could roll right in and the kitchen island needs enough space around it to maneuver. Many people are not willing to sacrifice the space for the possibility of being in a wheelchair. (Plus if you can afford a high-end house, you can probably afford to move if you need a wheelchair.)

Around here most people when they get older and can no longer handle climbing up stairs, usually move to a single story home.

My parents moved to a single story house for mobility reasons and another consideration was gurney access. If you need to call an ambulance, the last thing you want is for them to have a problem getting you out.

In other words, it’s not just your access that matters.

Some states require inspections of residential elevators as often as annually, at a cost of typically $200-400. Aside from that, an elevator has a lot of moving parts to keep adjusted and replace when worn out.

By comparison, most stair lifts have just one motor and a couple of safety / limit switches.

I’ve vacationed in three-story beach houses that have elevators. They’re nice enough for lugging the groceries upstairs since the common room/kitchen are usually on the top floor, but for the most part I found it to be pretty worthless and preferentially used the stairs.

Admittedly, they were pretty slow, janky elevators. I suppose a wealthy person’s mansion would have faster, sleeker ones.

Also, if an elevator breaks, you’re stuck inside for at least a while–potential problem if you need meds or something. On a stair lift that breaks, you step off.

I’ve been in expensive homes with elevators.

Overall they aren’t needed or desired.

The owners of expensive homes don’t need to worry about moving heavy stuff up stairs. They can pay people to do that for them.

Even if I had 20k I could blow on an elevator why bother? Chair lifts are a lot less money and are a lot less permanent should they be no longer needed.

FWIW, most people who use wheelchairs have a little mobility. Some can stand and walk a little, so they might be able to use some full-sized appliances, or at least get up and step into a bath. Some people can use an appliance to pull themselves into a standing position and hold it briefly, so they can use the upper shelves, and not let the space go to waste. Most people can get into a bath tub, either by transferring using upper body strength, and possibly a board, or by using a combination of upper body strength and limited mobility.

I’m just saying that disabled people have lots of choices and ways of doing things.

At any rate, the possibility of getting stuck in an elevator is probably frightening to anyone who depends on medication or needs things attended to, and maybe can’t crawl out through the trap door on top like you always see in movies. You can put a phone in an elevator, but this presumes landlines, because cell phones usually don’t work in elevators.

Probably people building big enough houses have thought about them, and rejected them as more trouble than they are worth.

And, my aunt and uncle looked into stair-mounted lifts. Insurance sometimes helps pay for them, and they are something middle class people can manage. People who can build million dollar homes can probably put in chair lifts even if it’s just for someone who visits once in a while.

If it were in a household that desperately needs one, where chair lifts are not “doing enough” for them, then elevators would do.

Maintenance/imminent breakdowns and its efficiency (I mean even rich folks think about their money too sometimes) just makes it a far less desirable acquisition than something they can just easily take off if it’s not needed any more.

We are talking homes in excess of 6000 square feet so the room needed for an elevator shaft shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure you could equip one with an emergency call system. Many elderly already keep a call button around their neck or just do the “I’ve fallen and cant get up” thing.

But your right they are pretty uncommon except for the most expensive homes.

When I was a kid some of my cousins lived in a 3-story house with an elevator. (I think actually it was more of a dumb-waiter, but a person could ride in it. You couldn’t have got a wheelchair in there.)

We had a lot of fun with that thing. With all that it did not break down.

The bad thing was that if you wanted it, though you couldn’t “call” it. You had to go to wherever it was and get it. My aunt liked it at the bottom, next to the laundry room, where she could load up clean laundry and ride upstairs with it.

They also had a central laundry chute that went down from all floors right next to the elevator and ended up, of course, in the basement laundry room.

We tried to go down that, too. FAIL.

PS: Their next house was one level, even though it was approximately the size of a football field. I think they all wanted to put in the horizontal equivalent, which I guess would be a people mover, but they didn’t.

Stair lifts here are battery powered with an automatic charging point at top and bottom. Even with a total power cut, it would still be able to manage a few trips up and down - certainly, it could return the passenger to ground level.

I once went to a party in a house that had an elevator square in the middle of the rather large living room. Needless to say, this was not an esthetic pleasure. Apparently, the previous owner had been in a wheelchair.

We looked at a 70’s house of about 2500 square feet that had a closet type elevator. I think the previous owner had been in a wheelchair.

It was tight for 3 people, dark, clunky, ceiling seemed low. Obviously a retrofit. I think a wheelchair user would have to be alone or the 2nd person hunched over the chair. It was nice for bringing groceries up from the garage but too small to move most furniture.

I don’t know what a $20,000 elevator looks like but I suspect a commercial unit that could move, say, a refrigerator or 6 people comfortably would be a lot more. But I think a really nice elevator is a great idea for an expensive house.

Probably for the same reason most American homes don’t have bidets. Convention.

It also has a lot to do with the market. Because it’s not the norm, most banks don’t want to lend another 20k on something that won’t appreciably raise its market value.

Another consideration, the cost of redesigning a standard home to a workable configuration would probably run the retro fit over the 20,000 mark.

Our two story office has a 12 person/2100 lb. elevator that is about as small as commercial elevators get. Annual inspections are $210 per year, and we pay an annual maintenance contract fee of $2800.

Stairs are free.