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front cover lifetime home design guide

For Professionals

(12) Stair Lift / Through-Floor Lift

The design should incorporate:

12a) provision of a stair lift

12b) a suitably identified space for a through-the-floor lift from the ground to the first floor, for example to a bedroom next to a bathroom.


Stated specifications and dimensions required to meet criterion

There must be a minimum of 900mm clear distance between the stair wall (on which the stair lift would normally be located) and the edge of the opposite handrail/balustrade. Unobstructed ‘landings’ are needed at top and bottom of the stairs.


Frequently asked questions - Criterion 12

Q Does 12a) apply to communal stairs?

A Criterion 5 applies to communal stairs and lifts, Criterion 12 only relates to private provision within individual dwellings.

Q Do the stair and through floor lifts need to be wheelchair accessible?

A The stair lift referred to 12a) is a seated stair lift, not a platform stair lift. The through floor lift does however need to be suitable for a wheelchair user.

Q Do you need to provide a straight flight of stairs?

A A straight flight of stairs is not required for a stair lift. Stair lifts can be provided for turns and curves on staircases as long as the adequate width is provided.

Q Does Lifetime Home specification prevent provision of ‘winders’ on staircases?

A Although not recommended, winders are not prevented by the current Lifetime Home specification.

Q Does a Lifetime Home house need both provision for a potential stair lift and provision for the potential through floor lift?

A A dwelling with two or more storeys should have space provision for both the future stair lift and the future through floor lift. Each may provide for a different need.

Q The house has a 2nd storey with a 4th bedroom, does the provision for a through floor lift need to go to the 2nd storey?

A The potential lift need only go from the entrance level to a storey containing a main bedroom and bathroom providing Criteria 13 and Criterion 14.

Q What provision in the floor is need for the through floor lift route and what size aperture is required?

A The floor joists should be trimmed on the identified through floor lift route to enable simple removal of the floor panel if the lift is installed. Designers should check the minimum aperture size for current wheelchair accessible lifts with manufacturers. We would suggest an aperture size of 1000mm x 1500mm, with the narrower width against the wall, which should provide an aperture suitable for a reasonable range of wheelchair accessible through the floor lifts.

Q Do electrics need to be provided for the future stair lift?

A Provision of capped off electrics for the future stair lift / through floor lift is strongly recommended, but not a requirement.


Additional good practice recommendations

(i) Provide capped off electrics at suitable location to assist in installation of a stair lift and/or through floor lift when required.

(ii) Although stair lifts are available for curves and turns in staircases, and swivel seats enable mount and dismount at the bottom and top of the stairs with no clear wall space, the following additional requirements make for the most cost effective ‘standard’ stair lift installation:    

  1. A straight flight of stairs.
  2. A space at least 700mm long and 400mm wide, clear of any obstruction, fitting or doorway beyond the bottom riser of the stair to allow for parking the stair lift in the rest position.
  3. A similar space at least 200mm long provided beyond the top nosing of the stair to assist transfer at the upper end, and allow projection of a standard stair lift track.
  4. Spaces 2. and 3. above should not infringe into the required widths of corridors and landings required by Criterion 6.

(iii) The optimum provision of spaces for the potential through floor lift (particularly in very large houses) is off circulation space on each relevant storey (often storage space).

(iv) The optimum arrival point for the through floor lift in smaller houses is into the main bedroom with the closest relationship to the bathroom containing the ‘ease of access’ facilities of Criterion 14 (usually from a living room below).