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Examples when multi-storey buildings do not need a lift


I installed an elevator, only to discover my building only required an entrance ramp!

Running a successful day-care clinic is one of the points of pride in my life. After years of training in the child-care industry, and multiple loans later, I was able to open my very own centre. 

I always wanted my business to be wheelchair accessible, so I took out a loan to install an elevator. I'm glad my building is accessible to all, however, my wallet feels a lot lighter because of it. 

My building is two storeys high, with play centres on both floors. Unknown to me at the time, I needn't supply an elevator as my building was less than three stories high.

I have decided that after I retire, I will sell my clinic and share the profits with my family. I am partially thankful I decided to install an elevator, as my building will sell for a lot more than if I had chosen to keep only stairs. Hopefully that elevator ends up being a worthwhile investment!

I hope my children enjoy all the benefits of our elevator!

What buildings DO NOT require an elevator?

Not every multi-storey building is required by law to have an elevator. Under the Australian Standard AS 1735 Lifts, Escalators, and Moving Walks (the SAA Lift Code), some buildings are exempt from providing one. 

Facilities with less than three-storeys or with less than 3000 square feet per storey do not need an elevator. 

Examples of buildings that DO NOT need an elevator:

  • A four-storey building with 2900 square feet per floor
  • A two-storey buildings
  • A multi-storey health clinic with offices only on the ground floor
  • A multi-storey shopping centre with shops only on the ground floor
  • Heritage-listed buildings
  • Personal homes
  • Basements
  • Attics

Some pre-existing buildings may be deemed 'not readily achievable' to provide an elevator. If this is the case, then adjustments can be made to the building to provide other forms of access for all people eg. ramps.

This exception is not fixed and several types of services or buildings are nevertheless obliged to supply an elevator, even if they are less than three storeys high or less than 3000 square feet per floor. There are a few types of buildings that would still be expected to have an elevator. 

Buildings with TWO-STORIES and LESS than 3000sqft/floor that DO need an elevator:

  • Multi-storey shopping centres with business not limited to the ground floor
  • Health care provider or businesses with offices not limited to the ground floor
  • Facilities that have a public transportation station, terminal or depot, or an airport passenger terminal.

These buildings demand elevators, as they are essential places of business for people living with disabilities. They must be wheelchair accessible to allow all people to use their services.

Before spending the money on an elevator, do some personal research to determine if law requires you or not to have one. Elevators are a great addition to any multi-storey building, but you may not need one to continue your business.