Property Grunt

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Elevators for everyone.

This is an article from the Wall Street Journal Going Up? Elevators
Invade Suburban Homes

I think it’s fascinating how technology is playing a bigger role in real estate. Will this be a new trend for Manhattan townhouses and browstones? Outdoors is usually a luxury that is in high demand.

According to the National Association of Homebuilders
They have noticed a growing interest in elevators in its yearly survey of homeowners, especially those with expensive homes. Last year, 25% of those surveyed who had homes valued at over $1 million listed elevators as "desirable" or "essential." In 2001, only 8% of owners in an equivalent category said an elevator was a must or a want, says Gopal Ahluwalia, staff vice president for research.
Interest results from the introduction of a smaller, less-expensive model that is much more practical for a single-family home. Called a pneumatic vacuum elevator, it was developed two years ago specifically for the residential market. A basic two-story or three-story pneumatic version will cost $20,000 to $28,000, including installation. Standard lifts run from $15,000 to $100,000.

Reminds me of the Jetsons.

Both the pneumatic variety and their more-expensive counterparts are increasingly enticing a variety of homeowners, from people who are too lazy to lug the laundry or the kids' sports equipment up the stairs, to those who think the addition is a smart investment that will increase the value of their property.
Then there are aging baby boomers whose interests run to both fashion and convenience: Elevators are cool contraptions -- and it would be nice not to have to take those stairs when they get a little older. Other buyers are retirees who view them as a practical way to stay in their multistory homes.
When Ms. Fine noticed her 13-year-old dog, Max, was having trouble climbing stairs last year, she decided to purchase a Miami townhouse with an elevator just for him. "My children are 17 and 19 -- they can climb the stairs," says Ms. Fine, vice president of a home-design firm. But, "Max is part of my family and he sleeps upstairs with me."
The increase in sales of residential elevators is outpacing sales for apartment and office buildings at some companies, though sales overall are far smaller. In the past three years, Otis Elevator Co., one of the biggest elevator-makers in the U.S., has seen sales for individual homes or condos jump about 12% to 15% a year, compared with 3% to 5% a year for office and apartment buildings.
Evelyn Thompson recently installed an elevator in her two-story, single-family home in Port Orange, Fla., after her 84-year-old husband began having problems climbing the stairs after a series of back surgeries. Now she uses it regularly to transport laundry and cleaning supplies and to tote luggage upstairs when visitors arrive.

Besides, she adds: "My grandchildren think it's the next best thing to Disney World."

It makes sense for the elderly desiring elevators even for small homes. When you get old its difficult to take the stairs everyday. When I was a kid there was this elderly woman who lived on our block who had this special chair on a rail that was attached to the staircase. Back when I was a kid and my best friend and I would take a ride on the chair whenever we stopped by to visit.