RICS P ROP E RT Y JO U RN A L
R E S I D E N TI A L E L EC T R O M EC HA N I C AL EQUI P M ENT
Replacing or refurbishing a lift can be time-consuming and expensive. Gareth Lomax explains how to streamline the process
Going up in the world
s with all electromechanical equipment, lifts reach a point when parts fail, and the reliability of service is compromised. If major component failure can be pre-empted, however, you can avoid your lift being out of service for a prolonged period; for example, a controller failure could mean it is not working for an average of eight to 12 weeks. Some modern lift equipment has a design life of between 15 and 18 years, provided it has been maintained properly. Equipment from the 1970s generally had a lifespan of 25–30 years, with lifts from the 1960s lasting even longer. Lift replacement and renovation can be expensive: the average replacement costs in the region of £80,000, while a full refurbishment is an average of £65,000, based on a four-floor traction lift. This amount increases for taller buildings with more storeys due to the additional labour and materials required. Refurbishment is usually a better option than replacement: not only is it cheaper in most cases, but it also results in a longer
Refurbishment is usually a better option than replacement: not only is it cheaper in most cases, but it also results in a longer life expectancy 48 OC T OBER/NO V EMBER 2 018
life expectancy. In the case of a robust lift, this may even give 25–30 years’ service with the potential to repeat the exercise at the end of that term. Some modern equipment may not be suitable for refurbishment later, forcing another replacement in future. With any capital expenditure in shared accommodation – such as flat-roof repair or boiler renewal – accurate planning is critical to ensure the works will be completed to the required standard, while enabling funds to be collected over a prolonged period, particularly if there are not many flats to share the cost. A lift replacement or refurbishment is a potentially complex and disruptive project, so this article offers some pointers on how best to schedule and carry out major works to any lift you may have in your property.
Know your lift It sounds obvious, but property managers and anyone involved with the maintenance of your block must get to know the lift. In most instances, it will be the same age as the property; there may be rare exceptions when it has been added later. Given that 20 years is a good rule of thumb for the lifespan of many components, check whether the lift has undergone major refurbishment at any point. Review comments from the service provider and insurance inspector, who are required to provide reports under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, to ensure that it is in good condition. Some simple things for property managers and residential management companies (RMCs) to look out for, which often indicate other underlying issues, are as follows: bb increased number of breakdowns or lift failures bb poor levelling of the lift or erratic movement when starting or stopping