Top 5 things to consider when incorporating an elevator into your building

Vision - Wednesday, October 6, 2021






Elevator or escalator equipment is often one of those building assets that are taken for granted and only really appreciated when they are not working optimally.   Ask any building maintenance manager who is sure to confirm this!  Think of the times you have entered a hotel or office complex and not spared a thought as to how you will be getting to your desired floor, the elevator will take you…This critical piece of the overall success of your building project however sometimes does not get the attention it deserves in planning stage.  There are many things to consider when incorporating an elevator into your building and we have rounded up our Top 5.

1. Request consultation from a respected elevator contractor early in planning stage

Elevator contractors can advise from early on which aspects of the planned building may cause concern from a lifting equipment perspective.  An experienced elevator company has seen and heard it all and will be able to nip a potentially significant issue in the bud early on.  A good elevator contractor can provide valuable insight on design, logistical, installation and maintenance issues before you have committed to the supply of the elevator equipment.  The different elevator types can be explained and specified accurately in tender or other documents, basic planning drawings can be supplied and manufacture, delivery and installation lead times estimated.  All of these aspects minimize the surprise element for the elevator scope of works in a much larger, more complex building project.

2. Complete a Traffic Study

A traffic study looks at the intended size and use of the building and the various floors and also the flow of the users who ultimately occupy the building when it is completed.  Typical questions to ask here would be: how many people will need to use the equipment, what time of day will the equipment be used the most (peak times), is there a need for restricted access to certain floors and how does this impact the waiting time?  A traffic study can guide you in what size and speed of equipment is needed, how many elevators will ensure efficient movement of people as well as the expected travel and waiting times.  Regulations may call for a designated fireman’s elevator or you may want to protect the aesthetics of the equipment by planning for an elevator designated to carry furniture or other large items.

3. Ensure accurate specifications for lifting equipment shafts

Based on the elevator equipment requirements, the elevator manufacturer will require specific shaft spaces for the installation.  Making accurate allowances early on in planning stage will reduce the risk of having to make significant changes to the building design at a later stage, especially if this is structural.  Elevator shaft spaces include the headroom (finished floor at top most landing to underside of the highest point in the shaft space) and pit (space underneath the lift from the bottom most landing).  These are regulated dimensions and vary according to the type of elevator supplied.  Take note of the building height regulations for your area, will the headroom space required comply?  Is there any accessible area below the elevator pit, can the pit floor withstand the forces required by regulation?

4. Select appropriate finishes for the elevator equipment

Advances in elevator aesthetics means there is a large variety of finishes available for aspects such as elevator car walls, ceilings, floors, doors, buttons, lights etc.  It is important to choose the finishes based on the functional aspects of the building. For example, while a mirror stainless steel finish may look aesthetically pleasing, if your building is in a high traffic shopping mall with probability of shopping cart damage, higher than average surface contact by occupants then you may want to stay clear of this finish due to it’s propensity to show scratches, dents and dirt smudges more obviously. This will mean more maintenance by cleaning staff and a less attractive elevator in the longer term.  More functional considerations also need to be considered, for example consider the additional weight requirements and potential for damage of glass cladding for the escalator instead of stainless steel.

5. Request after sales maintenance provisions from the elevator contractor

The success of the elevator equipment in your building does not stop after installation. While it is critical that the installation of the elevator is completed well, the maintenance following handover for use is just as important.  Request from the elevator contractor what is included in the cost of the elevator supply. Many elevator contractors include 12 months free maintenance in the cost of the elevator installation contract thereafter a maintenance contract will need to be put in place to ensure compliance to regulations and also optimal operation of the equipment.  Request pricing estimates for future maintenance responsibilities, be sure to enquire about excluded components or items that are typically chargeable to the client (abuse, misuse etc).  Find out whether the contractor will arrange the regular compliance inspections or whether this will be your responsibility.  The contract types vary from contractor to contractor so ensure that you are comparing quotations from different suppliers on a like for like basis.  Other questions you may want to ask is what local stock levels are held for components, what are the lead times for made to order or specialized non stock items, the typical call out response times and what type of reporting is available to monitor operation of the elevator equipment.