How Much Does a Dumbwaiter Cost?
$8,000 - $12,000
$8,000 - $12,000
Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.
Updated October 18, 2021Written by HomeAdvisor.
The cost to install a dumbwaiter will usually range from $8,000 to $12,000 but may reach as high as $20,000. Expect to pay 40% of the total project cost on the materials and 60% on labor.
The materials alone cost about $4,000 on average and typically range between $2,000 and $7,000, depending on the manufacturer and brand you purchase. Residential dumbwaiters come from a variety of manufacturers and brands. Some will be more expensive than others, but it is up to your budget and needs to decide which one you buy.
Below are some prices between the top residential manufacturers:
The installation of a dumbwaiter in an existing shaft averages $750 to $2,500. Installation labor is the most significant part of this total cost. Installing a dumbwaiter in a new shaft typically costs around $5,000 to $6,000. A total average of $10,000 includes installation plus the motorized dumbwaiter.
Here’s what goes into the installation costs:
Rerouting electrical lines
Moving plumbing fixtures
Exterior work finishes
Drywall and paint for the area
Access door installation
Dumbwaiters transport food and goods between building levels either manually or with the help of an electric motor. There are two types: electric, powered-car dumbwaiters and manual, unpowered dumbwaiters. Both types perform the same function but have different characteristics depending on their type.
The most significant difference is in how they operate. These two types of dumbwaiter are detailed below:
Manual dumbwaiter materials and installation vary in price depending on size but usually cost between $3,000 and $8,000. You will find manual dumbwaiters in older homes, and you operate them by pulling on a rope. These small elevators can only hold up to 50lbs but offer many advantages over electric. They are more economical, require less maintenance, and remain functional during a power outage.
Manual dumbwaiters might be the best choice if you have narrow spaces that are not easily accessible. A mechanical dumbwaiter is typically better if there are more considerable distances to overcome, like going underground or into high-up attics.
Labor plus material costs for an electric dumbwaiter typically range from $10,000 to $20,000. You raise and lower electric dumbwaiters by pressing a button. The motor is located either above or below the unit and can drive it up and down. This type of car can lift up to 500 pounds.
There are a few plus-sides to using a motorized electric dumbwaiter, including moving heavier items, reducing strain and injury on workers, and ease of use. An interlock system prevents the doors from opening when not at a particular level, which prevents injury and increases safety.
Modern dumbwaiters have a few downsides, such as their increased cost and inability to work during power outages.
For any house with multiple stories, a dumbwaiter is an excellent investment for reducing physical effort. There are quite a few uses for dumbwaiters, which all reduce the burden of carrying large or heavy items up the stairs.
Installing a dumbwaiter varies in cost and depends on the location and use. Here are some common uses and installation ranges:
Kitchen groceries and food transportation: $12,000–$15,000
Laundry transport to and from bedrooms: $8,500–$11,000
Firewood transport: $12,000–$15,000
Pet transport between floors: $8,500–$11,000
Car garage storage/items transport: $12,000–$15,000
Transporting anything heavy up and down the side of stairs: $12,000–$15,000
Attic or basement storage: $12,000–$15,000
Exterior (furniture, patio and garden supplies): $12,000–$15,000
Note: There are resources available to receive disability grants for home modifications to improve mobility. You may be able to lower installation costs significantly. When making these changes, also consider the other necessary disability accommodation costs.
The cost of a dumbwaiter plus installation varies depending on its size and the weight it can carry. Bigger, heavier units are more expensive than lighter or smaller ones. There are four sizes for a dumbwaiter: mini, standard, midsize and oversized. The weight capacity ranges from 100 pounds up to 500 pounds. Below are the sizes and costs:
Mini car (14"x14"x20"): $3,000–$7,500
Standard car (20"x20"x30"): $8,000–$12,000
Mid-size car (24"x24"x30"): $12,000–$17,000
Oversize car (36"x36"x48"): $18,000–$20,000
Installing a dumbwaiter is similar to installing an elevator in your home and depend on a few factors, including:
Installing a new dumbwaiter shaft is much like installing an elevator shaft. The work begins with building a shaft for the car to travel in. For older homes, this involves opening your wall and possibly replacing electrical wires and plumbing. For newer homes, it entails either opening or adding a space that will hold the shaft.
One option is to convert an unused closet into a dumbwaiter shaft. Another option is to move an existing duct and use that area for the shaft. This is the most laborious task, especially for larger dumbwaiters.
There are a variety of door styles for dumbwaiters on the market, which range from sliding to swinging. Upgrading an existing door typically costs around $500 to $1,000.
Corner dumbwaiters are built-in shafts. They don't require opening any walls and are usually on countertops in residential homes. They're great for transporting groceries. These types of dumbwaiters have an internal size restriction because they're at the corner of a room. They usually cost $4,000 to $6,000 to install due to their limited internal capacity and building design costs.
Dumbwaiters come in a variety of finishes, some more expensive than others. Powder-coated options are usually less costly and often the most practical for most interiors. Other options such as stainless steel or wood paneling are available at an extra cost.
Suppose you feel comfortable or have the knowledge for building a shaft yourself. In that case, you can opt to buy a dumbwaiter kit for DIY installation. But proceed with caution–especially if you're looking to install a large dumbwaiter.
Warranties for dumbwaiters usually only cover the manufacturer's licensed dealer. Most manufactures also require licensed technicians to do repair work. To avoid unnecessary risks, hire a licensed professional contractor to do the job. Persons with disabilities can also contact local American Disability Act (ADA) contractors.
Outdoor and indoor dumbwaiter versions can provide relief for those with heavy things like groceries or firewood. If you have accessibility needs, a dumbwaiter works well for making mobility accommodations.
The elevation device can transport laundry and is accessible if the device is near or in the bedroom or laundry room. Install it by the kitchen pantry, and you can transport groceries without going back and forth with heavy items.
The average cost for installing a new motorized dumbwaiter in a newly built shaft is about $10,000.
There are some illegal dumbwaiters in use today. Some people convert garages with door openers into dumbwaiters. However, these types of homemade systems will not pass any codes and are very dangerous.
People installing old dumbwaiter systems must take extreme caution due to the lack of safety features. Leaving open doors or running with open doors is dangerous for everyone–especially children.
Dumbwaiters are still legal in most areas, provided they follow local codes. The best way to ensure compliance is to find an approved safe dumbwaiter system. It should have a third-party certification based on current elevator codes for your jurisdiction.
The process for constructing a new dumbwaiter shaft can take anywhere from one to seven days. It depends on the complexity of the project and location. The installation process of the dumbwaiter, however, only takes a few hours to complete.