Residential Elevators without Pits: Advantages and Limitations

 Residential Elevators Without Pits

Are there any residential elevators without pits?   

We hear it a lot. 

Or: do I have to build a hoistway (shaft) for my home elevator?  

The answer is yes and yes! But there are limitations to each. Pitless and Shaftless Home Elevators are an option but only if your home fits with those elevators. There are combinations that can work and those that can’t. How many floors do you need to travel? Do you need to go in one side and out another? Are you looking for an elevator for accessibility reasons or because you want the option in your home? Why do you need a Residential Elevator without a pit? Several residential elevator manufacturers make shaftless elevators: Stiltz, Savaria, and Wessex. Just to name a few.  

Yeah, that’s a lot. Let’s tackle these one at a time. But first…  

Residential Elevators: a basic anatomy lesson 

In any elevator in the entire world, residential or commercial, you have to have a floor for people to stand on. That elevator floor also to supports the walls and ceiling. Those walls and ceilings (and the gates) make up what is called the elevator cab (what you stand in) needs to attach what carries it. That’s called the sling.  

Here’s the sling on our typical Residential Elevator (Hint: there’s an arrow pointing towards it)


Pit Less Elevators

The cab and the sling need to be strong enough to carry the load forces that act on them while the elevator is moving people up and down. And that strength also has to exceed the load by factors of safety so there’s more material.  

You see, there has to be something to hold the floor. And that something (the sling) takes up space below the floor.  

See that White Arrow above? It’s hard to tell, but that is about 8″ of metal. 

Residential Elevator Without Pits

There are residential elevators without pits and without shafts. But they are limited in their use on how many levels your home is. Or, what is common called by home elevator companies: the elevator travel.

Let’s consult the code book written by:   

Per the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Code (ASME A17) 2017, we can omit the hoistway (the shaft) on the upper and lower landings, (meaning the first floor and top floor). There need to be safety panels on the top of the elevator cab and on the bottom. There also needs to be a cover (we call it a hatch cover) that will go over the floor when the elevator isn’t there.          

Originally, I was going to copy and paste the actual code language in here but I didn’t want you to fall asleep. So, what does it mean?

Basically, a shaftless elevator can only travel from one floor to the next.

So if you have a two level home you’re fine but if you have a three story home elevator then you’ll need a traditional elevator or TWO shaftless elevators. Which we’d be happy to provide for you. 😀  

We do provide an option for a pitless residential elevator that can travel up to 3 floors BUT we have to provide the shaft. Also, it isn’t a true pitless elevator so you’ll need to ramp up to it. Let me add some more information on the typical Residential Elevator and why there really is no such thing as a Residential Elevator without pit. 

This elevator is reinforced for large capacity and usage.


Non pitless home elevator

If you want an elevator that will last 50 years, that’s it.  

But it needs a minimum pit depth of 10″. If you’re building a new home, doing a large renovation, or want a typical home elevator then this is the option for you. 

The main difference between our regular home elevator and the pitless/shaftless is that you are ADDING square footage to your home with this elevator and TAKING AWAY square footage from your home with the shaftless/pitless option.

Also, the regular RE option yields the highest equity increase. We’ve always said that we Elevate your Equity ™. So if this option fits for you then hop on over to our typical residential elevator section here.

If you’re still interested in learning about pitless and shaftless home elevators, than read on:  

Options for Pitless and Shaftless Home Elevators    

Remember how I just mentioned that an elevator needs a sling, floor and cab? Reread above if you missed it.  With anything that calls itself pitless you have to have a either have a ramp that is either permanently installed on the ground floor. Or go with one of the specific Residential Elevator without pits.


Residential Elevator Without Shaft at Top

Shaftless, Pitless Elevator Models

The Wessex Residential Elevator comes without a ramp, just a short step up into the cab. This allows for the elevator to come down directly on your floor. No pit needed.  It is also ACME’s elevator of choice when providing a shaftless solution to our customers. And I’ll tell you why:

The Wessex is a hydraulic driven RE that really is a fantastic solution for your home. It comes with it’s own supports and a hydrualic piston in the one of the rails. There is a small tank with the motor that can be located up to 25′ away.

There are always going to be costs to get your home ready for any elevator but the advantage of the Wessex is that it minimizes the retrofitting you need to do. Here’s the crazy thing: You’ll have to cut a hole in your floor.

Yeah, you read that right.    

Don’t worry! We need somewhere for the elevator to travel through when it goes up to the second floor. We also put a sleeve in so that it looks nice and clean. There’s a patch we install that sits on the sleeve and covers the hole.

Hole for RE

You can put flooring on it after we leave. This patch has safety switches that prevent the elevator from moving up if someone (you, your friends, your cat, etc) is standing on it.

We also have a safety pan on the bottom of the cab. This pan prevents the elevator cab from contacting people or objects when traveling down. See. Very safe.

If your ceiling is flat and level, then we attach a pad to it and anchor to your ceiling joists.

Wessex advantages and drawbacks

The pluses of the Wesses are:  

  1. Stylish- more and better finish options
  2. Lower preparation costs- no wall modification needed
  3. More cab size options- from a one person to full wheelchair
  4. Quieter
  5. Slim design without sacrificing safety or reliability
  6. Can be mounted away from a wall (determined by site visit)


  1. Rails only mount to the back.
  2. The door can only be put on one location
  3. No front and side/front and rear layout.
  4. Ceiling pad can be an option that some won’t like

Savaria Telecab


The other option is the Savaria Telecab. A tried and true soldier, the Telecab is also a shaftless and pitless home elevator. It has a ramp that attaches to the cab. It is also fully enclosed. This one is also a hydraulic lift but there are a few other things to know about it:  

  • You need a wall to attach the Telecab’s “tower” to. See, the cab of this lift attaches to a tower which sits on the left or the right 
  • The tower NEEDs a wall to sit against.
  • That wall needs to be opened up and reinforced with additional wood backing so that the tower can anchor to it.

That’s the short of it for now. There are other options available so please give us a call to discuss everything you might need. 



Call us at 1-800-888-5267 or Fill Out Our Form to get more information today.