How Much Does a Hydraulic 2-Stop Elevator Cost?

A very common question we get when designing multi-level commercial projects is: Will I need an elevator and how much will that cost? It can often be a deciding factor in going with multi-story design. Elevators come in all shapes and sizes, so I’ve decided to limit this post to hydraulic 2-stop elevator as this is the most common elevator in most light commercial applications.

First of all, the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) states clearly that all commercial space must be accessible. While some jurisdictions will take exception for certain types of occupancy and sometimes even allow alternatives to elevators for small areas of space on other levels, it is generally a good rule of thumb to assume that if you have multiple levels, you should plan on having an elevator.

The cost of a full commercial elevator is significant, as well as the space requirements in the plan for the shaft and equipment. Like all costs, there are variations for geographic location as well as trends in the economic market that can drive the cost. Below is a chart, courtesy of The Means Report, published by RSMeans, the industry’s leading construction cost estimating resource.

Cost of Hydraulic 2-Stop Elevator

The installed cost of these units range from $65,000 to $75,000, depending on the location, and the trend right now is in a down cycle. This data is also very consistent with installed costs for similar elevator units in projects that we have designed in both Colorado and Texas. The highest average cost for these units has reached over $90,000 in the last two years, and is likely to return to those levels in the future. If you are considering developing a commercial project, it is best to understand the impacts of all of the required systems to the overall budget before even starting the Schematic Design. This is one of the many services that we provide at EVstudio and we are happy to help you navigate the entire matrix of estimated costs in order to help you define your project.


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66 thoughts on “How Much Does a Hydraulic 2-Stop Elevator Cost?”

  1. Hi William, thank you for your question. You didn’t indicate where your project is located, but it would be highly unusual for a jurisdiction to not allow an elevator penthouse to exceed your building height limit. I would recommend you checking with your local planning and zoning department first to make sure they wouldn’t allow that. Typically, elevator penthouses, chimneys, stacks, fire escapes and the like are all allowed to exceed the building height limit. If that indeed is the case, there are models out there that can minimize the height of the shaft and hoist beam, but you would have to speak with those elevator representatives directly on which models would best serve your needs. Best of luck!

  2. We are designing a 4 story condominium and we want to get the occupants to the roof (5th stop) but we have a height limitation of 11 feet above the roof deck . Does anyone manufacture an elevator that can be contained in the 11 feet above the final stop level? If that is not possible – as another option – is there a 2 stop – 1 story lift commercial ADA approved elevator that can be housed within 11 feet above the last stop?

  3. Hi Claudette. A residential elevator that you are describing is a very different thing than the kind of commercial elevator outlined in this article. For new construction, a residential elevator is typically half or less than the cost of a commercial elevator. For an existing building, that cost can climb significantly depending on how much work you would have to do to make the accommodations for the shaft, structure, access, impact to adjacent spaces, etc.. I don’t know where you are located, but I’d suggest you reach out to a manufacturer of residential elevators to get more specific information on your project. One such company is Inclinator: Best of luck with your project!

  4. Claudette Anderson

    looking for and elevator that is build inside a two story home, two to three people will ride up to the second floor in a common area or hallway

  5. Thanks for your question. Although the best person to answer this for you would be an elevator supplier, contractor, or representative. After a review of your existing conditions, they can select the appropriate system that would meet your requirements. There’s very little we would be able to do without getting deep into the design and constraints. Best of luck with your project!

  6. mja, VA architect

    1906 two story town hall building south central VA (town of Boydton) w/ top floor 175 occupancy. What is best elevator for budget of $100,000 including enclosure?

  7. Hi Steve,
    For a simple three-stop elevator of a standard size (plenty large for that occupant load), you should anticipate around $100,000 give or take 10% or so. Obviously, without knowing anything about the building, it’s hard to say anything about the work that might be required to accommodate the shaft, pit, penthouse, structure for beam, fire ratings, circulation, structure for floor penetrations, electrical upgrades, ventilation, and equipment room. Many buildings make it infeasible to add an elevator within the existing structure for these reasons and so your only option is an exterior shaft, which would carry additional costs as it entails exterior siding, foundation, roof, site changes, etc.. So regardless of what you can do, your total cost will be the $100k plus all of the other surgery you have to perform on the building, or an elevator addition, which could easily double that cost. I don’t know if that helps, but it’s a starting point for your discussion. Best of luck with the project!

  8. Hello, I am located in Connecticut and looking for an estimation on how much an 3 stop elevator would cost for an addition to an Historic Structure, that will be converted into commercial offices or library so the elevator must be able to hold a good amount of people and persons with disabilities (300-500 occupants expected). The elevator doesn’t have to be huge but big enough to accommodate maybe like 5-7 people. I was wondering if I can get an estimate on how much the elevator itself would costs and any other estimation you can generously provide.

    Thank you for your time,


  9. Hi Larry!
    400 occupants in three levels is a relatively small load. Only one standard elevator could likely handle the load though you could add a second for convenience. Depending on your location and logistics of the existing conditions, I would expect a budget between $80,000 and $100,000 per elevator, installed. Many variables would influence that of course from available electrical supply to construction type to available space for shaft and equipment room. Elevators can, in some cases, require major surgery to the building. I hope that helps!

  10. Dean,

    What size elevator would be required when a building has 400 occupants (3 stops) and what would be the total estimated installed cost?

  11. Eunice,
    I am confused by your question – are you looking for an economical way to avoid paying a structural engineer to design for a 21,000 pound elevator or are you looking for a way to avoid installing the elevator altogether? I can’t really speak to the latter because I don’t know your situation, but if you’re asking about paying a structural engineer, you should not consider doing any structural work to a building without a licensed professional engineer doing the design work. Hope that helps.

  12. Hi,
    We are looking at a building built in 1920 with two shafts one is 6×8 in the front of the building and the other is off the alley more like a freight shaft 10×10(?)
    As I talk to the contractors they want me to pay a structural engineer to put a 21000lb elevator. Is there a more economical way, or better fix to this situation?

  13. Travis,
    Thanks for your question. It’s hard to know what kind of onion peel you might unravel with a building from the 1800’s, but assuming you are building an all new shaft for a 3-stop elevator with virtually minimal impact to the existing building, I would start out with a conceptual budget of somewhere in the range of $180k-$220k. The elevator itself, installed will be about $100k of that, and the remainder for the structural, electrical and mechanical systems for the shaft itself, as well as an architectural skin that would be in keeping with the existing building (assuming brick) and the necessary penetrations to the existing building. This would not include any renovations to the existing building that may be required to extend corridors or improve those transitional areas for elevator lobbies, nor would it include any site costs for changes to parking, drainage, etc. as those are unknowable until you have at least a schematic level design in place. I hope that helps – if you have any further questions or need assistance with the design of your project, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thanks!

  14. Dean, I live in New Jersey and want to put an elevator in a 3 story office building built in the 1800s. It has room on the exterior for installation of a concrete block shaft. I am looking to do as cheaply as possible. Any idea on the costs? Thanks Travis.

  15. Hi Jeff,
    Thank you for your inquiry. While RSMeans data doesn’t technically extend to Canadian provinces, we have completed several projects in Canada and while there does seem to be a bit of a premium on the cost of goods and labor, I can’t imagine why a 4-stop elevator would ever cost that much. That figure is over triple the tabulated cost, and you already have electrical, mechanical, structural in place and you wouldn’t require any major surgery to the existing building (as best as I can tell). I would definitely recommend getting a second opinion, or third, on both the cost of a new elevator as well as the cost of fabricating any custom parts you might need to repair the existing elevator. Because in this day and age, just about anything can be manufactured relatively inexpensively (compared to the cost of an entirely new elevator). Best of luck!

  16. I live in Vancouver, BC. Let’s start by saying i don’t know anything about elevators.
    I live in a 3 storey wood frame building (4 stories including the basement. We have been given a rough estimate for a full replacement by our property management company. Reason given for replacement is due to parts no longer being available. When the elevator needs a new part, it must be fabricated for our particular elevator. Costly and time consuming. The estimate is 280 000$ (canadian $). This includes all material, labour, fees, plans, etc…everything. seems quite high. Our building was constructed in 1975, and the elevator has never been changed.
    If you have any insight, please write me back. Our strata is a little lost and confused about the whole situation. Thank you, Jeff

  17. Sure thing Charles. The elevator itself will be around the $80,000 price tag that you see in the chart. That would be fully installed and finished, however it would not include the cost to make changes to the existing building, frame out the shaft walls, modify the lobby and finishes, and make the necessary modifications for the hoist beam in the building structure. I do not know where your project is, or the level of finish for the existing building. But I would say that you could easily spend between $10k-$20k additionally, depending on many factors. If you are in need of architecture, structure, and mechanical/electrical design assistance for your project, please let us know – we have done numerous elevator retrofits and would be happy to discuss that further.

  18. I am looking to install a machine-room-less elevator in an existing 2-story office building. There is sufficient space in the lobby to install a 5′ x 7′ elevator. We are in the schematic design phase and need an estimate for the elevator. Can you help?

  19. Tommy,
    That’s a tough one – if it’s a commercial lift, then the code will drive your size and installation requirements That budget can typically cover a residential style lift, or perhaps a freight lift. However, neither of those would meet the code for moving people in a commercial environment, nor meet any kind of ADA standard. And a full 2-stop elevator would be 3+ times your budget. I would suggest asking your local building department if they would allow you a waiver for a special circumstance. I have seen that done before, but it is always a case by case basis and you ordinarily need a strong hardship to demonstrate your case. Best of luck with the project!

  20. we are doing a remodel in an existing building and adding some second level mezzanies…we would like to include a single story elevator or lift for women with strollers or a person in a wheelchair but our budget is limited to 20-25K…do you have any suggestions.


  21. Sunny,
    That’s a pretty specific use and condition you have there. It sounds like you need a freight lift rather than a full elevator, which would be considerably less expensive. The data in this article won’t be very relevant. We’ve done freight lifts in projects before and I want to say that they weren’t more than about $10k-$15k. But given you have an existing condition, I would suggest you reach out to a freight lift supplier to come out and look at your project and provide you with an actual bid for installation. Best of luck!

  22. I am purchasing an older building downtown that has a 5,000 sf basement but right now we are looking to load kegs down a set of stairs. There is an existing street elevator shaft but not lift. What could I ball park for a street lift that would be used to lower down full kegs and bring up empty ones?

  23. Steve, I think that’s about right for an initial estimate. Once you develop a basic plan, you can validate that with a local rep for one of the leading elevator companies like Otis or Schindler. Best of luck with your project!

  24. Dean,
    Thanks for this excellent overview article. I am working on preliminary design for a small bar & grill building in Jacksonville, FL; 2 floors, 1600 sf each. Florida ADA requires an elevator for 2-story buildings of this type. Based on your guidance, I should use about $80,000 as the initial estimate for total incremental cost of adding an ADA compliant elevator to this building. Does that sound about right? Thanks!

  25. Tariq,
    I’m not sure I’m understanding your question. I’m not familiar with installation of used elevators from previous installations. I’m not even certain if that’s really feasible. Can you provide more information about your project and what you’re looking for?

  26. John,
    Thanks for reaching out. In your area, I would plan for at least $80k for a commercial grade elevator and possibly as high as $95k, depending on the features you select. This would not include the cost of the building renovation to create a shaft and elevator lobbies – without knowing anything about your building, that of course would be pure supposition.

  27. Hi,
    i am working with a religious institute that has a building that is ADA exempt. however, we are looking at putting in a 2/3 (cost dependant) elevator for visitors. we are located in central NJ, can you give me an idea of the cost before we persue this idea to far ?

    Thank you.

  28. Peter,
    Thanks for your question. I’m not sure where your project is located, but based on your description, I think your project could be as much as $100k, including the necessary adjustments to the shaft – assuming of course it is large enough in size and stacks perfectly at each level. Also, assuming that the shaft is adjacent to the hallway at each level. To get much more detailed than that, you would need a plan based on existing conditions with additional details for structural, mechanical, electrical and interior finishes. We can assist in all of that if you are seeking a full scope A/E design team, so let me know if you would like to discuss further and we can go from there. Thanks!

  29. Hello,
    I am looking at purchasing an old building (1900) that is three stories +basement. The property currently is a nonconforming hotel and the idea would be to renovate into a boutique hotel (45 rooms). Currently there is not an elevator so some structural changes would have to be made but maybe not so significant, there is a 10×10 area of dead space in the middle of the building (possibly an old air vent system) which would be ideal for the shaft. I have plenty of experience with hotels and renovations but have not dealt with a elevator before. When looking at something like this what is the ideal syst for this establishment and any idea on the ball park price??


  30. Thanks Steve, I will email you separately. Best of luck with the municipality!

  31. Dean,
    Thank you for the quick response. We are located near Chicago. Our project is still in the concept phase as we try and determine the best way to expand on the land we have (build to the max). Right now, we are fairly sure we will need to go two stories on part of the project, but we will need to get approval from our local municipality. Please forward me your contact information and, as we get closer to finalizing our plans, I will keep in touch.
    Thank you…

  32. Steve,
    I’d start with a general number we use for a 2-stop office building elevator of $80k. However, that would be indexed by location as some regions of the country can be more costly to build than others. Also, level of finish plays a large role (a luxury cab vs a standard cab for example). Where is your project located? We have a team of experts with commercial office and mixed use buildings and would love to learn more about your project to see if we could provide Architecture and Engineering services. We are licensed in most states, and can easily get reciprocity, so let me know if you would like to discuss that further. Thanks!

  33. We are considering building a two story building with our offices on the second story. Can you provide me with an all-in budget number for the elevator? I’m assuming (I know that can be dangerous) that this will be a standard elevator used primarily to transport people. Thank you…

  34. Bruce,
    It sounds as if you are looking for a vehicle lift. These numbers won’t be appropriate for that kind of lift. I suggest you contact a local vertical lift representative (Otis or Schindler or similar) as they would be able to guide you for something unique like this. Best of luck!

  35. I have a project were we need an elevator to move a car and a person one level – they will drive out of the elevator and park it is located in washington state.

    what is the cheapest and most durable design and what will this cost approx.
    thank you

  36. Thank you for taking the time to write back and for ideas on where to take my next steps. I will work with the companies you suggested. Thank you again for you help. – Lilly

  37. Hi Lilly,
    It sounds like an interesting project. Elevators can come in all shapes and sizes and can handle significant loads – especially for only a two-stop elevator you are describing. Aside from all of the other code issues that you would have to address, there is no doubt this would be a very customized lift. An occupant load of 50 is very high and would warrant it’s own means of egress from the cab itself. There really isn’t anything in RSMeans that is like this, so there’s no data that would support the cost of such a device. My recommendation would be to contact one of the major elevator companies like Otis ( or Schindler ( and speak with one of their specialists. Best of luck!

  38. Hi my name is Lilly and I am working on a school project and I hope you could help me.
    I need an cost range to put in an elevator that would hold 50 people? If 50 people is to much, what is the highest number of people or weight that you could have in your elevator.
    The reason I’m asking if because for my project I need an elevator that would be in the ground at a park. When a tornado comes the elevator would come up for people to get in and go down in the ground for safely until the tornado passes. Then come up to let the people out and go back underground until needed again.
    Thank you again for your help.

  39. TLynn,
    Where is your project located and is the elevator for a new construction or remodel project? New residential elevators can run $20k-$60k depending on many variables and level of finish. Without more info, it’s tough to narrow that down. I would suggest contacting a residential elevator contractor in your area to determine applicability, logistics, options and specific pricing.

  40. Suresh, I’d suggest you contact an elevator rep in your area. That is a very specific request and you have enough existing information where someone can actually provide you a line-item quote complete with product and system specifications. Best of luck with your project!

  41. Need to find replacement cost for 5 story otis std
    Traction machine at plant location. Can you pl
    Provide removal cost, install cost & material cost
    Separately. Thanks

  42. It’s a large, 4 story building. There is going to be an elevator for the rest of the building but we’d like something more private just for our use.

  43. Rob,
    Are you looking for a cost for just the elevator or for the whole renovation project? The elevator itself, installed, will be on the order of $80k to serve your two story daycare. I’m unclear from your comment though about what happens to the other two existing floors. If the same elevator will serve the other floors as well, there is an incremental additional cost per floor.

  44. We’re looking to build out an existing factory building into a two story daycare center, the building is a four story building. The first floor has a 14′ ceiling height and a 10′ on the second. We’d have to cut a shaft thru the concrete slabs and build a pit as well as a cmu enclosure for the shaft. We’re in the feasibility stages right now and I was just curious if you could give me an estimate on a price it would cost to install. We’re located in Chicago.

  45. Hi John,
    Thanks for reaching out. The RSMeans data for the elevator itself suggests a budget of $80,000 and in addition to that, because you are creating new space and tying into the existing building, I would anticipate in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $30,000 for that additional structure. This assumes that the rework to the existing building will not be significant and that the space is there for the new elevator shaft and will not require any onerous site expenses. We do have a Texas office and are fully licensed to practice architecture and engineering there, so if you would like assistance on the design or engineering for the addition, please let us know and we would be happy to help.

  46. Our Church is considering adding an elevator to our Worship center. It would be a 2 stop elevator and positioned on the outside of the original structure that was built in 1981. What would be a good working budget for such a system? We are located just west of Ft. Worth, Texas.

  47. Hi Jack,
    You definitely have a unique situation there. I don’t think the data for passenger elevators will apply to your situation. I would suggest going directly to an elevator manufacturer (like Otis or Schindler for example) to get an opinion of probable cost. They would also be able to speak to installation considerations as well and advise you of any other code or constructability issues that may influence your budget. Best of luck to you and Happy New Year!

  48. I forgot to add: It’s in Detroit, Michigan, and it would be a 3 stop unit . And doesn’t have to be hydraulic.

  49. Hi Dean,

    First of all, Merry Christmas to you!

    I have an old freight elevator that has been out of commission for over 25 years. Water has leaked down the shaft from the rooftop opening that it has. It’ a hydraulic unit. It was built late 60’s. The hydraulic pump and mechanical room controls look relatively new (10-15 years).

    I noticed the estimated costs for passenger elevators in your posts here. Can you tell me what it might be to replace this freight elevator using the same shaft? I don’t need super heavy loads (less than 10,000 lb (nor do I need the ability to move people).

    Thanks in advance!

  50. Goodness Kerry, I’m sorry to hear that. My first advice might be to find another position because that doesn’t sound like a very good operation, and certainly shakes my confidence in the quality of subcontractors and suppliers in the market today. But aside from doling out career advice, I would strongly encourage you to thoroughly research RS means for their construction cost data – not just related to the equipment, but also the construction of shafts, walls, supporting structure and finishes for elevator systems. Our information and general understanding of unit systems cost as a component of total building cost is far too broad for a level that you would need to properly estimate the details of the system. I do wish you the best of luck – you’re not in an easy situation and I would implore you to reach out to the owner of the business as I’m sure they would be keenly interested to hear about your situation!

  51. I am currently working for a commercial elevator company. I have no experience in estimating elevators and know one to even train me. I was told to sink or swim. Any advice on what steps to take in order to understand this task at hand. Thank you and Happy Holidays!!!

  52. Steven,
    There are a lot of factors that would have to be studied in order to determine if your dumbwaiter shaft could be utilized as an elevator shaft (structure, fire protection, ventilation, location of equipment, etc.). Assuming it could, your costs would be aligned with those of a new elevator PLUS the remodeling costs to install and any upgrades to the existing shaft for those systems. You didn’t mention your location, and there is also variability with different markets, so it’s tough to provide an opinion at any level of confidence, but my instinct tells me you would be looking at likely a ballpark in the neighborhood of $100k.

  53. I have a 3 story building that has a manual dumb waiter that is still in place. can I replace this with a working passenger elevator its about 72 x 72 there is no basement how much would this cost?

  54. Steven,
    The installation cost of a new elevator will include some additional costs for building the shaft, running electrical, the pit and pumps and HVAC for the shaft. Additionally, with the base cost of an elevator being in the ballpark of $70k for a 2-stop, you will add anywhere from $10-$15k per additional stop. So you would probably be looking at a conceptual budget in the ballpark of $110k-$150k for a new 4-stop elevator with shaft, depending of course on the elevator specs, level of finish and any additional work you may need to do to the building to stitch it into the circulation for each floor. I do not know of any contractors personally in your area, but you will need a fully licensed commercial contractor to do this work as it includes architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical work, like any other commercial project. It’s a sound recommendation to make the building accessible to all floors as that not only makes the building more livable by removing barriers, but it also makes the building, and each unit therein inherently more valuable as well. Best of luck with your project!

  55. Hello:
    My condo in NJ has a old elevator which requires replacement. However the elevator is located in a part of the building that is not on ground level. I am recommending to my condo association to build a new free standing elevator on the outside of building instead of repairing the existing one. can anyone give an idea of costs for a 4 story elevator? Can you recommend contractors in South Jersey? Please let me know.

  56. Steve,
    It sounds like a historic building, which often has some leniency on code requirements as long as you don’t change the use, but it’s tough to imagine that the local building department would approve anything but a code compliant elevator for a new use – especially an assembly use. With that said, a starting point for a two-stop elevator is going to be in the neighborhood of $50k-$60k. There are a host of variables from existing structure to construction logistics that will be unique to your building that would inform this cost. Best of luck!

  57. Dean:
    Are you aware of any circumstances under which it would be permissable to refurbidh an existing antique freight elevator for passenger use to gain access to the second floor of a 2 story building? The proposed use would be to get patrons, food and beverages from a first floor restaurant to a second floor banquet room. If not, can you provide me with an estimated price range to install a 6 to 8 passenger elevator in the existing shaft? I am doing my research to determine whether or not it could be feasible to also lease the 2,500 sq.ft. second story space above the restaurant. There would be a staircase accessing the space also. Thank you in advance for any thoughts you have on this. Steve

  58. Bob,

    It certainly should be possible to install a new elevator in the existing shaft. Logistics would heavily influence the cost of that, but I would expect a new elevator to be anywhere from $60k-$80k installed, assuming typical building conditions and construction. Your best bet would be to contact an elevator rep directly as they can outline the possibilities and options for you. Best of luck!

  59. I have an existing building with an old elevator and old elevator shaft. It is a two story building with a basement. I have removed the old elevator but I would like to put in a new one. Do you think this can be done; and if so what do you think the cost would be .. ball park. Thanks in advance.

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