Once found only in department stores and office buildings, elevators have made their way into the home, with a growing number of homeowners listing elevators as a desirable or essential feature, according to the "Los Angeles Times." Elevators not only help the elderly or disabled travel from floor to floor, but they also serve as a luxury feature for affluent homeowners without mobility limitations. Understanding the costs involved in adding an elevator can help you decide if this feature is the right addition for your home and family.

Elevator button
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Elevator button

Home Elevator Technology

Residential elevators utilize one of two basic types of technology. The most common relies on the traditional hydraulic pump and piston system, which is also found on many commercial elevators. These elevators use hydraulic pressure to operate a piston, which lifts and lowers the cab. Other home elevators rely on pneumatic or vacuum pressure rather than a hydraulic system to lift and lower the cab. These units work similar to the air-powered tubes found in the drive-through at your local bank, using air pressure to force the cab upward and lower it gently back to the ground level.

Elevators in New Homes

As with many home features and building projects, it's virtually always cheaper to incorporate an elevator as you are building the home rather than trying to add one to an existing structure. Plan to spend between $21,000 and $25,000 for a basic, no-frills, two-stop elevator when adding it to your new home, suggests a 2013 article in the "Los Angeles Times." A basic three-stop elevator costs slightly more, with an average price between $28,000 and $30,000. A 2014 article in "San Antonio Express-News" estimates the cost of a simple two-story elevator in new construction starting at $20,000, with each additional stop or floor adding $1,500 to $2,000 to the base price.

Elevator Additions

Adding an elevator to your existing home can easily cost twice as much as adding an elevator during construction, according to the "Los Angeles Times." Plan to spend anywhere from $25,000 to $125,000 for this project depending on the size and weight limits of the elevator and on how much your home needs to be modified to accept the elevator. On average, a two-stop elevator in an existing home should cost between $42,000 and $50,000, while a three-stop unit costs $56,000 to $60,000.

Extra Features

The cost of a new elevator can easily soar depending on how ornate the design. The "San Antonio Express-News" article suggests that features like glass walls, milled wood interiors and decorative features could add several thousands dollars to the price of a home elevator. Homeowners who choose to attach the elevator to the exterior or the home rather than indoors should expect the cost of the unit to start at $30,000 or more.

Pneumatic Elevator Prices

Pneumatic elevators may offer easier, faster installation, especially in existing homes. To install these elevators, contractors simply need to cut a round hole in each floor to accommodate the cab. There is no need to excavate or add hatches or separate machine rooms. A 2012 article in "Remodeling Magazine" estimates the cost of a vacuum elevator at $55,000 to $75,000 based on size and features.