In case anyone is finding their stairs too challenging, I thought our latest project might be of interest.
We both have arthritic knees, and the dog is treated for arthritic hips, so we decided to investigate having a lift fitted. I subscribe to “The Oldie” magazine, and saw ads there for Stiltz lifts. I also investigated a French supplier of a different system. The latter needed a lift shaft to be built before he became involved (and coordinating with carpenters in our area can be tricky. Although I have recommended him to our Mairie where a lift is still on the horizon, we went with Stiltz who referred us to their French suppliers.
We have reinforced concrete floors, and cutting a hole through these would not really be a DIY option. However, ours is a traditional savoyarde structure with wooden balcony. Under the balcony is the original front door, and immediately above it is another door accessing the balcony upstairs. We had to cut a hole following a template provided by the lift installers, and in December they came and installed the lift which travels up two vertical rails through the hole. As the lift we bought is for interior use, we dismounted the old doors and remounted them outside a new insulated USB shaft - a DIY job for us.
Now, we use a remote control to summon the lift to the ground floor, get in and press a button to send it to the first floor. While the lift is upstairs we have free access to wheel the log trolley outside under the lift for restocking firewood. When the lift is downstairs we can step across it and out onto the balcony to access the winter tyres and roofbox which are stored there and winch them down to street level.
The dog loves the lift but we have never sent her up or down on her own, only with one of us inside. We are both overweight, so don’t both use the lift at the same time. It takes 24 seconds to travel between the floors. If anyone wanted to install one indoors, you would just have to get a local carpenter or mason to cut the hole in the upper floor. Ours connects only the ground and first floors - we have decided that when we can no longer manage stairs at all the loft (which is only used when lots of people visit) can be left for the next generation’s use! Had we had wooden floors we could have had an internal lift connecting all floors but we prefer our semi-exterior solution. It was an investment to enable us to live in our house forever, but cost under 20,000€ and has made a tremendous difference. The Mairie helped with permis forms and nobody raised any objections.