Elevator Renovation: Boosting ROI, Safety, and Tenant Satisfaction

Bring New Life to Your Old Elevator With a Renovation Project

We’ve all been there: Getting in an elevator in an older building, and finding…

  • Nonworking floor or up/down indicators
  • Missing or broken floor selector buttons
  • Flickering, dim, or burned-out fluorescent lighting
  • Dents, scratches, or graffiti on the walls
  • Unidentified stains on the floor
  • An oily, “machinery” smell, or worse
  • Unnerving noises and vibration
  • Broken or missing emergency call system

Or maybe just a sign that says “Out of order.”

Makes you want to take the stairs instead, doesn’t it? Even if it’s six flights?

Do any of these describe an elevator you have used recently? More to the point: Do any of these describe an elevator in a building you own or manage?

If so, it’s time to invest in an elevator renovation.Advantages of Elevator Renovation

Elevators are designed to last the life of the building, but as complex mechanical systems they do require regular maintenance. Unfortunately, many property owners invest only the bare minimum to keep the government-issued elevator certificate current. This often means that aesthetics and rider comfort take a back seat to just keeping it running.

But consider the advantages of a full elevator renovation. Whether your building houses apartments or offices (or both), the benefits of elevator renovation are extensive.


It’s just an elevator, right? But consider this: If your building has more than two or three levels, it’s the one space, other than the lobby, that almost all tenants and guests will visit. A  clean, well-lit elevator cab with a modern look makes a good first impression on current and potential future tenants.

Enhanced Property Value

A working elevator is not, by itself, a selling point for a residential or commercial property. Tenants expect that. But an elevator with a modern look can help enhance not only the resale value of the property but also the rent you can charge. All else being equal, many potential tenants will pay a premium to live or work in a building with an updated elevator versus one with a dated, neglected elevator.

Regulatory Compliance

In addition to state or local requirements for elevator certification, almost all elevators in the U.S. (with certain narrow exceptions) are required to meet accessibility standards under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law applies even to elevators that were put in service prior to the law’s passage. The law’s standards cover everything from door width to call button size to the size of the raised lettering and Braille labeling the floor selector buttons.

Failure to comply can result in civil judgments and fines. An elevator renovation project is an excellent way to make sure your elevators meet the ADA’s requirements and are accessible to people who are blind, in wheelchairs, or have other disabilities.


The risk of an elevator free-falling in its shaft is extremely low, thanks to built-in fail-safe countermeasures. However, elevator emergencies do happen. An elevator renovation project can include the installation of modern systems to ensure rider safety.

Older elevators often had a button in the cab that would sound an alarm bell (and some lacked even that simple feature). Modern elevators have two-way voice communication systems (also required by the ADA) that connect riders with the building’s security staff or the local fire department.

Additional safety features include smoke and fire detection, security cameras, and integration with overall building safety systems.

No one wants to ride an elevator that looks or feels unsafe. A modern elevator cab with the latest safety features enhances safety for all tenants and visitors.

Reduced Operating Costs

An investment in elevator renovation can save you money in the long run. How? Three ways:

Energy efficiency: Replacing certain elevator components can save electricity costs. For example, you can replace fluorescent lights with LED lights that use much less electricity. (LED fixtures also last longer, which saves on maintenance costs.) If motors or other electrical components are due for replacement, using energy-efficient components can also reduce your energy costs over time.

Insurance premiums: Adding modern safety features may reduce your property insurance premiums.

Maintenance: Modern elevator components are better designed than their older counterparts and are not only more energy-efficient but also more reliable, thereby reducing ongoing maintenance costs.

What’s Involved In an Elevator Renovation?

An elevator renovation project must be performed with care in order to achieve lasting results. 

Although every elevator renovation project is different, they all should follow these basic steps:


The process starts with a thorough assessment of the entire elevator system by a qualified elevator service company, including the condition of the cab, motors, wiring, electrical switchgear, control systems, safety features, counterweights, supporting cables, doors, ventilation, and more. The maintenance history of the elevator should be examined to identify recurring problems. Any conditions that do not meet the local building code, elevator certification standards, or ADA requirements should be called out.

Once the assessment is complete and documented, the elevator service company will propose a renovation plan that includes a prioritized list of specific actions. Safety and compliance issues are “must-have” items that receive top priority. The proposal should include a detailed cost estimate.

Design and Customization

Once you agree on the scope of work with the elevator service company, it’s time to make some design decisions. The provider should give you some customization and refinishing options and recommendations. It’s a bit like a kitchen renovation—you can decide on wall materials and colors, floor surfaces, ceiling materials, and lighting to give your elevator a sleek, modern look.

Project Execution

This is where the actual renovation work takes place. Mechanical and electrical components are upgraded or replaced. Safety systems are updated, if needed. The interior of the cab is renovated to your specifications.

The tricky part, in particular if your building has only one elevator, is the fact that it will be out of service at times during the project. Your elevator service company should work with you to minimize the impact to building tenants and visitors.

Depending on the scope of the project, it could take a few weeks to a few months to complete, including the assessment and design phases. If the project is limited to interior refinishing, it can usually be completed in a few days.

Testing and Inspection

Before the project is complete, everything must be thoroughly tested, and any issues must be addressed. Inspection includes verifying the proper operation of the system and all subsystems under normal and emergency conditions (for example, automatic recall of the cab to the ground floor in an emergency). Emergency communication systems and other safety features are tested and verified.

On the aesthetic side, the workmanship is inspected and verified against the original design specifications, and any issues are fixed.

Finally, if required by your state or local elevator certification department, a final certification inspection is performed, releasing the elevator for use.

Post-Renovation Maintenance and Service

As mentioned earlier, an elevator is a complex system that requires regular maintenance. A planned maintenance program with your elevator service company can keep your elevator running reliably and reduce downtime (and tenant complaints).

Too many property owners skip this part, not realizing that it can cost much more to call the elevator service company when something breaks (especially outside normal business hours). A planned maintenance program, where a technician visits and performs maintenance tasks on a regular schedule, is much more cost effective.

Premier Elevator Cabs: Your One-Stop Shop for Elevator Renovation

Premier Elevator Cabs is a full-service elevator service company serving customers in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. We perform a wide range of renovation services that cover interior refinishing as well as electrical, mechanical, and safety subsystems. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you improve your tenants’ experience with an elevator renovation.