Russ Ward

Construction Elevator Problem Solved

When you get over a couple of stories in a building project a man lift or construction elevator becomes a reality. Numbers bear it out. The need is there due to the cost of having a construction team without one tromping up and down stairs all day. Workers are simply less productive, so although the cost is often hidden in hours lost by using a staircase, it is real and real expensive.

But, then you have the added cost to your project for the temporary elevator, plus availability, the set up and inevitable delays. It seems you are either paying too much for the savings if you get one or you simply don’t have a construction elevator onsite at all because for a low or mid-rise project it seems cost prohibitive. So, here’s the question: Why use a temporary construction elevator at all when a permanent modular elevator could be used instead?

It makes perfect sense. A commercial quality, modular elevator can be placed and turned on when electricity is available at the jobsite. When construction is finished, it becomes the permanent elevator.

Not for Everything

Now before I get started, let me say up front that this is not the perfect solution for every job. If your desired use is not a low or mid-rise project it is probably not a good fit. We are simply not the best solution for high-rises.

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Also, if you are wanting to move tons of palatized materials, likewise we are not a match either. Elevators designed for passenger use usually have a capacity of between 2000lbs and 5000lbs. We, of course, can make elevators that have a huge capacity weight-wise, but the cost would outstrip the benefit once the building is opened.

In addition, passenger elevators are limited in size generally. First, you have the cab size. We can make elevators with a cab big enough for a hospital bed (the only limitation is getting elevators under the overpasses on a flatbed truck). But then you have the door issue as well. Usually, passenger elevators have door openings of 36 or 42 inches, although some can be wider. Keep in mind the door opening does not extend across the entire elevator cab. So, if you want to take items to the top floor larger than the cab or the door opening our elevator is not the best way.

There are plenty of other solutions that do not involve an elevator at all if moving big, heavy items is needed. But in most construction scenarios we are the solution or at least worthy of consideration.

We are the Solution

I like to say that this blog is designed to be informational and not just a sales pitch. The above is exhibit A of just that. Shoehorning us into a project where it is not a solution makes no sense and damages our credibility. It also damages the credibility of the modular concept overall. We can think outside of the box, and have even made round pegs fit into square holes (see this corner post project) but, modular is not always the best solution.

However, in the majority of construction projects, at the low and mid-rise level we are the solution. This is especially true if you are looking to cut costs regarding the use of a temporary elevator during the construction phase.

In other words, if moving men, tools and some materials is needed on building site, that role could be filled by the modular elevator quite easily and at minimal additional costs.

Here’s How

So, when you start looking at your construction schedule and logistics think about the elevator first. This is not an earthshattering thought. It is common practice for the hoistway or hoistways to be the first item on the drawing board along with stairs. But, here’s the change… don’t think just hoistway. Think fully installed elevator.

MEM elevators are the hoistways and fully installed elevator. They are a steel shaft wrapped in drywall for fire protection with a complete elevator already inside. The elevator car, rails, wiring, doors and frames are in place when it arrives at the site. In the example video below, that is what you are seeing; a fully installed elevator being set in a building.

Most projects require about 4 hours to get the elevator craned into place.

Then the start up can begin once there is electricity at the building site. Because everything is generally already installed, it takes about a week to get the elevator running. With the inspection, and following the appropriate rules for a construction elevator the modular unit can be used during the building phase.

Engineered to be the Best Option

To make the above possible keep this in mind regarding modular elevators:

  • They are most often designed to be free standing. That can change at certain heights, but generally the unit can be placed before the building goes up.
  • They can sit in weather for extended periods. They are shrink wrapped and moving parts are locked at the factory. When needed they can spend months at the jobsite before construction has started.
  • They take only 16 weeks to produce. While the site is being prepped, plans finalized and the foundation poured the elevator is being factory built.
  • You decide when you want the elevator. The time clock on the production of the elevator starts 16 weeks before you want it. You can have it delivered on the first day of construction or after some building is complete. We can advise you on the best options.
  • We are elevator, modular and construction experts. No other modular elevator company can make that claim. We can help you determine the timing and possible use. Straight talk you can trust.

Other Benefits

  • Quality is higher because the elevator is produced in a factory. Old-fashioned stick built units can’t compare.
  • With modular there are fewer people coming and going from your site. Our team does not take over your project.
  • You do not need to set aside special storage space for the elevator. It arrives fully installed.
  • The modular elevator is safer. There are no open hatches that people can fall through. The elevator doors remain closed until the elevator is up and running.
  • Modular elevators are greener. Less waste, more recycling and less carbon being burned by people traveling to the jobsite.
  • We have a 99% first time pass rate regarding elevator inspections.
  • The elevator is off the critical path. That means less general conditions costs. Some have estimated up to a 6 month savings.


Modular elevators (especially from MEM) can help you on the jobsite as both a construction elevator and passenger elevator. It can replace the cost of a construction elevator or it can bring a construction elevator to a job where one was not considered due to cost. It maybe time to consider the benefits of a modular elevator as your construction elevator solution. Click the button below below for a Fast Track quote and to get the process started.

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2 thoughts on “Construction Elevator Problem Solved

  1. Pingback: Elevator Installed On Your Schedule - Modular Elevator Manufacturing

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