Skip to main content

Residential Elevators and Aging in Place: Jim Guild of Jim Guild Construction and Saginaw Sunset

Submitted by Nest Bend on
House Talk Episode 6 – Residential Elevators and Aging in Place

A Conversation with Jim Guild of Jim Guild Construction and Saginaw Sunset

Karen Malanga: Hi, this is Karen Malanga with House Talk. I’m so excited to have Jim Guild here today with Jim Guild Construction.

Jim is the developer of a brand new neighborhood in Bend called Saginaw Sunset. And one of the most interesting features of Saginaw Sunset is it is offering that ability for people to be part of the new trend of aging in place because each home can come with an elevator.

So Jim, I did go online. I watched Bob Vila create an elevator this morning and it looked pretty complex. If you could just explain to us a little bit how do you design a home around an elevator? What goes into that?

Jim Guild: Well, the residential elevator business has been growing for the last probably 10 years. And I know of two residential elevators. One’s called Savaria. And the one we put in on our model home on Saginaw Sunset is called Waupaca. They’re basically just made specifically for residential use. So they’re smaller, they’re not as complicated as a commercial elevator.

Karen: Do you have to have a pit or is it more like a rail system on the back of the wall?

Jim: Actually, for the one that is a hydraulic system, they do have the pit. And people hear that term, basically, it’s just a part of the floor that’s a foot lower than your regular floor system. It’s all part of this hydraulic system.

The Savaria makes a chain-driven product, so it doesn’t need the pit. It needs space above the elevator though because of the way it’s built.

Karen: That’s nice to know, that the pit is only a foot deep. I thought, “Oh, my gosh! If I have an elevator in my house and I have this pit, if my grandchildren are over, what happens or could happen in that pit.

So, what are the safety features? I have two questions. Let’s go, I guess, first, with the safety features. So, when an elevator is completed in a residence, you have the pull door (for lack of a better word), but then you also have an outer door like a closet door that locks? How does that work?

Jim: Right! These are codes that are designed. There’s an actual elevator inspector who’s independent of the city and the county inspectors. They basically work for the state. And there are certain requisites.

And the advantage, for me, to have this outside door that actually accesses the cabinet or the actual elevator that has its own interior doors is that you can make these buildings elevator-ready and use them as closet space.

But basically, everything is done so that there’s no way that somebody can get trapped between the outer door and the inner door. The machine won’t work unless the doors are closed.

Karen: Oh, that’s good to know. I would also assume that if someone does want a home that’s elevator-ready or has an elevator already in it, it’s going to be a lot easier to come and look at your product in Saginaw Sunset than it is going to be to remodel a home and put an elevator in there. That seems to me to be a bit daunting.

Jim: Right! And one thing that I think the elevator industry has finally caught up on is that instead of being very specific to a certain size for their own product, they build their product to fit a common size which is generally about a 5 ft. x 6 ft. enclosure that they actually can build their machine to fit what you have built.

But the one we have, the Waupaca there, they’re very specific about the size.

Karen: And will that hold a wheelchair?

Jim: Ours is built for a wheelchair. They have smaller ones, but we thought that it would be appropriate to have one that a wheelchair could go in and out.

The other part though, with ours, the added cost a little bit is they have doors on the opposite side instead of just one door on one side. You can go in on both sides as the elevator goes up and down.

Karen: I think that that’s a wonderful bonus especially if someone is in a wheelchair. And I did notice in your model home that all your floors, they’re all going to be wheelchair-friendly. You have easy access into the elevator area. I think that that’s just really thoughtfully designed on your part.

So Jim, if someone wants to come and see your model, what’s the address of your model?

Jim: The address is 1639 NW Scott Henry Place and it’s off of Saginaw Avenue.

Karen: And they can also go on to your website, correct?

Jim: Right!

Karen: And what’s your website?

Jim: The website is, then I think you can link to the Saginaw Sunset.

The one thing with this aging in place thing is that the idea for our elevator was [brought up] in the fact that we have an unreasonably steep lots. And our people that are more my age in the mid-sixties who have said they don’t want stairs, instead of eliminating them as a possible buyer, the elevator basically has taken that restriction out of the equation of a multi-level home.

Karen: Yeah, I agree with that. Being a realtor, so many times, people say, “Well, I want main level building. Well now, the elevator takes away the feeling of a multiple-storey home and turns it into a main level living because everything is so easily accessible.

Jim: And the other part of installing this machinery is that it comes in parts. It’s not like some big, bulky […] that you have to find a way to get it through big doors to get it down the hallways. It comes in parts. They build them pretty much in the room right next to where the elevator goes.

Karen: That’s very cool!

Jim: It’s just installed. It’s a lot simpler than you realize.

Karen: I’d love to see that happen on your next home.

So, I want to thank you for being here. And for anyone that wants to see this lovely model home with the elevator in and also maybe view other home designs where an elevator is going to be an option, you can simply go to

Thanks so much, Jim, for being with us today. I appreciate it.

Jim: Thank you.