DEFINING REQUIREMENTS FOR LIFTS FOR FLATS
In blocks of flats, where there are 2 or more floors with residents or regular access required, a lift will usually be required for accessibility under a variety of building regulations and equality laws. The Accessibility Statement for any plans for consideration will need to discuss this or address reasons for why there should not be a lift.
When looking at lifts for flats, consider the following areas for specification:
- Number of users: low user numbers will allow a platform lift, but very high usage (“cycles”) will require conventional lifts or more heavy duty systems
- Number of floors: does the lift need to cover all floors? How many floors need to be accessed, and do they all need a stop point?
- Space available: is there space for 2 lifts? Can a large lift be fitted, or do more compact models need to be installed? Remember there are minimum sizes under regulations
- Fire zones: can every exit point be in the same fire zone? If not, fire protection will be needed on the lift to prevent a ‘chimney’ effect
- Budget: how much budget is available, and what are the priorities for the lift design where budget is limited?
- Design: from vandal resistant to high end finishes, there is something for every building.
- Listed status: where the block of flats is existing, any listed status may prevent or limit possibilities
- Lift usage: is the lift for passengers, a fire fighting lift, or for goods/equipment such as rubbish?
- Maintenance: is there a range of servicing and maintenance providers, or a budget that must be met for maintaining the lift over time?
- Lighting: there are strict requirements for lighting at landings and within the lift
COMMON FEATURES FOR LIFTS FOR FLATS
Lifts for flats are usually designed with potential issues planned for. If the lift is in a publicly accessible location, then vandalism could be a concern. Additional features such as key locking systems to restrict access, anti-vandalism paint and finishes (such as metal), and minimising use of glass will be important. Lifts are usually required for accessibility so if it is vital to residents, a second lift should also be installed where possible in case one breaks down or requires maintenance. Externally installed platform lifts should have features such as heating, ventilation, weatherproof finishes and canopies considered, such as our 7000XT.
Lift size should be considered – they must be large enough for a wheelchair and attendant at least, with large 8 person passenger lifts being the standard recommendation. Other types of lift are also common – fire fighting lifts may be required, and a goods lift/trolley lift can be used for transport of bins to a bin store.
REGULATIONS FOR LIFTS FOR FLATS
With so many regulations in place, it can be tricky to know where to look. The following regulations discuss lifts and should be taken in to consideration when planning and designing flats:
- Building Regulations Part M
- Equality Act 2010
- LOLER / PUWER
- EN81-70 and BS6440
- Machinery OR Lift Directive (platform lifts and stair lifts fall under the machinery directive, whist conventional passenger lifts fall under the lift directive)
You should speak with your lift provider to discuss the design and regulation surrounding the lift and flats you are working on.
WILL A PLATFORM LIFT WORK IN YOUR FLATS PROJECT?
Platform lifts for flats are a low cost, versatile and low maintenance option which work in many blocks of flats and shared residences. Under Building Regulations Part M (which discusses lifts and access), a full conventional passenger lift is the normal initial consideration – but a platform lift can be considered when:
- The number of floors is low (up to 6)
- Usage is low to medium (around 20 people expected to be using the lift)
- An ‘ambulant disabled stair’ is also provided
Platform lifts are great for where budget or space is limited as they are much more cost effective and space saving than a conventional passenger lift. Remember, always get advice from your lift provider and building control regarding the suitability of the lift you choose.