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Hamptons Life

Sep 3, 2008 1:59 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Residential elevator sales moving up

Sep 3, 2008 1:59 PM

Although the housing market has hit a bit of a slump, many East Enders are still opting for a bit of extravagance.

Residential elevators are becoming more and more popular in the Hamptons, according to Wally Teich, the president of All Island Elevator Co. in Hampton Bays. He estimated that there are between 400 and 500 homes in the area that boast elevators and that his business is growing despite the economy.

Since he started his company six years ago, Mr. Teich approximated that his business has installed between 150 and 200 residential elevators.

Mr. Teich credits two primary reasons for the demand for in-home elevator service—more houses being built in excess of 10,000 square feet and a growing need for mature home owners to easily access second and third floor areas.

“I’m going to classify our residential business in two categories, need and want,” Mr. Teich said. “Most are in the want category, but they are thinking ahead to their older years and they don’t want to lug everything up two or three flights of steps.”

Contractor Dave Harris of Harris Construction in Hampton Bays agreed with Mr. Teich, though he said from his end that most of his clients want luxury in all aspects of their secondary homes—from professional kitchens and fully finished basements to elevators in addition to one or two flights of stairs.

“Everybody wants every bell and whistle,” he said. “People like the ease and convenience. ... It’s becoming mandatory for anyone with a house over 10,000-square feet.”

During a visit to a Water Mill spec home on West Pond Drive that his company constructed, Mr. Harris reported that in that neighborhood alone he had recently built five new homes with residential elevators. He said that with new construction, an elevator makes the difference in how long a house is on the market.

“They are very popular now and an elevator definitely makes a house sell faster,” he said.

There are four types of residential elevators that Mr. Teich’s company installs here on the East End. The total cost for the purchase and installation of an in-home elevator can run anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000, he said.

According to Mr. Teich, the Telecab elevator, manufactured by Savaria Concord Lifts Inc., is the bare-bones model and costs in the low to mid $20,000 range. That elevator carries passengers a maximum of two floors and has a maximum capacity of 500 pounds.

Mr. Teich reported that he mostly installs the Telecab in existing homes where space is at a premium or when cost is a major consideration, but he added that there isn’t much call for Telecabs when aesthetics are an important consideration.

“We don’t put in too many of these out here because they are kind of ugly and you have to look at them,” he said.

The best selling residential elevator on the East End is the attractive 950-pound-load-carrying Destiny model, manufactured by National Wheel-O-Vator, Mr. Teich said. This wood, melamine or laminate finished model costs anywhere from the high $20,000 to the low $30,000 range and is typically a residential showpiece.

“The Destiny is our meat and potatoes model for homes on the East End because it has a behind the closet door look, is fully automatic and fits into the decor of your home,” Mr. Teich reported. “This is a model that you can customize to match your house.”

National Wheel-O-Vator’s Evolution Limited Use/Limited Application Elevator—a steel fronted, fully automatic door elevator—has the look and feel of a commercial elevator and is a popular choice for homeowners that fit into the medical “need” category for its functionality and 1,400-pound weight capacity, according to Mr. Teich.

The fourth type of elevator that Mr. Teich’s company installs is a high-tech, 37-inch cylinder vacuum elevator that boasts a sleek and modern design. Though most comfortable for a one-person ride, the vacuum elevator gives 360-degree panoramic visibility and fits into a very small area. Mr. Teich said that the people that purchase this elevator, which ranges from $35,000 to $50,000, want it either for the modern look or because they have limited space.

Ken Olsen, who has a pagoda-style home with 360-degree views on Dune Road in Quogue, had his vacuum elevator installed earlier this year. An avid tennis player, he said that he decided on the elevator to save him knee pain on the stairs.

“I’m not giving up tennis, but my knees have been bothering me so this made better sense than going up and down the 27 steps to the main floor,” he said.

Mr. Olsen said he loves the ocean views he gets while riding up and down the three-story aluminum and clear polycarbonate shelled elevator.

“I could have put in a regular elevator, but I would have lost all the windows here,” he said while pointing out the water vista. “Plus, this really complements the decor of the house.”

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