Case Study: A Stannah platform lift future-proofs a new home in Somerset

A first-hand experience by homeowners, Alan and Christine Wiseman

Making your home accessible for as long as possible is becoming standard practice in the UK. It’s called future-proofing and it’s practical, efficient and affordable, which is why Alan and Christine Wiseman had their new-build Somerset home designed and built around a Stannah Midilift SL vertical platform lift

Meet the Wisemans

Alan and Christine Wiseman are in their mid-sixties and have lived in rural Dorset since the early 2000s.  They retired early from careers in banking and journalism and have enjoyed an active retirement but the remoteness of their Dorset home, coupled with the knowledge that they have no immediate family to help in the event of problems, prompted them to move to an area with more convenient facilities.

Having designed and built their previous home, they felt confident in embarking on a project to build a prefabricated Hanse Haus home from Germany, in conjunction with the firm’s local UK representative.  The whole scheme took nearly three years from start to finish, including finding a suitable building plot, obtaining planning permission, designing the house and its infrastructure and overseeing the building work and fitting-out.  They moved into the house in August 2019.

The forward-thinking Wisemans thoroughly researched all bases before committing to their new Stannah homelift.

How easy was the lift installation process?

“Because the house itself took much work to complete and because we started with the lift, the process necessarily took many months from start to finish.  Despite this, the various staff we dealt with at Stannah were helpful and friendly throughout and guided us smoothly through their often-complex requirements for the lift shaft.  Stannah’s engineering team liaised directly with our architect and the building company on all the technical work which was a great help for us.  The result was a perfect fit when the installation was carried out, which only took three days to complete because the lift is supplied within its own structure and does not require a shaft or pit.”

What were the design criteria?

 “As well as making the house as environmentally friendly as possible, the brief was to ‘future-proof’ it for our later life.  Over the years, we have seen many friends and older relatives succumb to disabilities and mobility problems that caused problems for them in accessing the upper floors of their homes.  Often, the need for help in getting upstairs came quickly; one day they were fit and able, the next they were unable to use the stairs.  

“With a wish to maintain our independence high on our list of priorities, we realised that some form of lift should be an integral part of our house design.  It’s fair to say that we started with the lift and then designed the rest of the house around it.”

Isn’t a home lift a bit of a luxury?

“When we told our friends that we were installing an access lift in our new house, there were some raised eyebrows.  After all, we are fit and healthy and have no obvious need of a lift now, but we could see that designing this into our home right from the start was entirely sensible.  Doing it later on, if or when the need for a lift arose, would involve adapting the house with all the cost and mess this entails.  It would also take time to achieve, which is not ideal at the very time there is urgency to provide an aid to accessing the first floor.  Doing the job as part of a new-build scheme also has the added attraction of being zero-rated for VAT.  For most domestic situations, this is a concession that currently does not apply to retrospective installations.”

Why choose Stannah?

“We investigated alternatives, but the options offered by Stannah made them the front runners for us.  As a British company with over 150 years’ experience, Stannah is almost a byword for home lifts and we also knew that they have a strong presence in all lifting products including commercial lift installations.  This pedigree was important for us but, crucially, we were able to visit the company’s Andover factory by appointment to see the range of lifts before making our final choice.  We found this immensely useful as we could see and experience exactly what we would be getting before making a commitment.”  

Why choose the Midilift SL?

“Having made the decision to incorporate a lift, we opted for the hydraulic-drive Midilift SL because it was available in a size that allowed a person in a wheelchair plus carer to travel comfortably in the cabin.  It’s a situation we hope will never materialise for us, but it seemed better to allow for a worst-case scenario at the outset.”  

Are the Wisemans pleased with the Midilift SL?

“Absolutely delighted.  Because we incorporated this domestic lift into our new-build house at an early stage, it fits perfectly and unobtrusively with our décor.  Its stylish, modern design and quality of materials are excellent.  Bright, concealed lighting, a panoramic fully glazed door at both levels and audible information inspire confidence and actively encourage users to open the door and take a ride.   The fact that there is a built-in phone and alarm gives added reassurance. 

And those raised eyebrows?  

“Once they’ve experienced our Midilift, our friends see the sense in providing for whatever the future might bring.”    

Alan and Christine Wiseman—living up to their name by future-proofing their new-build home with a Stannah Midilift platform lift.

As with all Stannah lift products, the Midilift SL vertical platform lift is covered by Stannah’s comprehensive lift service plan, which includes four service visits in the first year, with continued lift maintenance by the South West England and South Wales branch of Stannah Lift Services, part of a nationwide network providing comprehensive lift servicing and support.

Stannah Midilifts feature in new residential developments and retrofit private homes throughout the UK, for example:  

Imperial Green, Kent: a high-specification development of 75, two-, three- and four-bedroom townhouses and apartments.
Tunbridge Wells: a detached, 2-storey, 5-bedroom designer home.
Winchester: a detached, 2-storey family home adapted for the needs of a disabled child.

Midilifts are predominantly used as wheelchair lifts or disabled lifts and are also ideal for public and commercial buildings. There is a half-height gate option and an external model. For full information on the Midilift range: download the brochure.