The Best Beginner's Guide to Stairlifts UK

Buying a stairlift can be a life-changing investment, enabling you to stay living in your home that you know and love, without the worry that managing the stairs might pose. Here at Springchicken we have pulled together the best stairlifts guide in the UK for all those beginners out there.

Most stairlifts will be a more cost-effective option than re-modeling your home or even moving house and can usually be completed from initial enquiry to completed installation in far less time than either of these options!

How much do stairlifts cost?

Prices depend on several factors, including:

  • Whether your stairs require a straight or curved rail
  • Whether there is a need to trim a windowsill, move a radiator or make any other minor adjustments
  • Whether you’ll want or need to opt for additional functions and features.

The layout of your stairs is the main determining factor in deciding which type of rail is most suitable in your home.

how to buy the best stairlifts uk

Curved tracks need to be made to follow the exact contours of your stairs and are technically more complex than straight tracks. For most manufacturers, this means they must be made to measure in the factory, producing a bespoke rail that perfectly fits your staircase.

Although one innovative company, UP, is now able to build a curved track on-site with pre-made segments to achieve this perfect fit, shortening the lead time from order to installation sometimes by several weeks.

Straight tracks are simpler, cheaper, and quicker to install.

Other considerations include adapting or adjusting features in your home to enable the stairlift to fit and operate safely and effectively and other additional features that you may like or need on your stairlift. This may include:

  • Manual or powered swivel on the seat to enable safer mounting/dismounting
  • Linked foot and armrest
  • Alternative seat belts, dependent on user ability and safety needs
  • Seat style – which may be from a range that includes tilted seats, saddle-style seats, perch seats as well as a selection of different colours and coverings.

A 2020 survey by Which? found the average price paid for a high quality new straight stairlift was £2,285, and for a curved stairlift £4,217. The pricing can range from £2,000 or £7,000 depending on the complexity.

Essentially, for every curve in your staircase, the price will go up!

If you have a straight staircase with two long straight flights linked by a landing it may, on paper, seem more cost-effective to buy two straight tracks and walk between the two. A word of caution, this option may not be ‘future-proof’ and may result in safety concerns and be more expensive in the long run!

Prices and quality will vary from make to make, so bear this in mind and follow the usual advice to obtain comparative quotes from at least two if not three companies.

What to expect when you contact a dealership/manufacturer for a quote

To start with, the company will need to have some essential information from you. They will usually need to carry out a home feasibility survey to determine exactly what type of stairlift and features you require.

The Best Beginner's Guide to Stairlifts UK

Most companies will offer a free no obligation survey. This is exactly what it says on the tin, a No Obligation Survey, so don't feel pressurised.

All reputable stair lift companies should be a member of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA). This means it will have signed up to its code of practice, which includes ethical selling. All high quality stairlifts must be CE-marked and comply with British Standard BS5776

If you are able, ask an Occupational Therapist to be with you for the home survey to support you and ensure your specific requirements are met in the specification. If they cannot be present, they can provide a list of specific requirements for you.

Many details are difficult, expensive, or even impossible to rectify after installation, so preparation is well worth it.

What can you expect for your money?

A quote should include:

  • The cost of the stairlift
  • Cost of any bespoke options, such as choice of seat upholstery, remote control etc.
  • Installation costs, which should include any additional works needed.
  • VAT exemption, if applicable.

You will also need to know about the warranty and any aftercare services.

A standard warranty should be at least 1 year but may be two years, and there may be any option for a warranty extension. Check what is included in the warranty, for instance any servicing, parts and labour, callout fees…

Whilst you should expect your new stairlift to operate faultlessly, there may be times when this simply doesn’t happen. Be clear to establish what your Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are before your stairlift in installed, here are three useful questions to ask;

  • Are they employed by the company or out-sourced?
  • Are they on call 24/7?
  • What speed of response can you expect?

Make sure you have the contact number to hand on your phone or in a prominent location.

How quick can I get a Stairlift installed?

Many of the stairlift companies pride themselves in their speed of service, some able to meet same day requests for surveys, and then installation a few days later for simple straight track stairlifts. Curved tracks generally take a bit longer, but you can expect installation in about 2-3 weeks.

This speed of service is one of the major differences when weighing up affordability, as often the wait for a stairlift funded by the Council might take 6–18 months, or longer. The delay can seriously impact a person's quality of life, so if possible be prepared.

Often, once someone is beginning to struggle with safety on the stairs, the need to get a stairlift sorted out ceases to be a wish and becomes a necessity.

Let us know about your stairlift buymng experiences in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.   

Photo credits

Header Image Bike and Stairway Photo by Oliver Cole on Unsplash

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