The Challenges of Elevator Modernization

“There is no typical modernization project,” says senior elevator consultant, Cory Hunter, currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Whether it’s a two or three-stop hydraulic elevator in a commercial office or a 30-stop mid-rise building. They all seem to have a different challenge.”

What is typical is how ATIS consultants approach each project. “We like to look at each project holistically and identify everything that needs to be repaired, replaced, and upgraded, to make sure that all the safety items and code deficiencies are picked up and we’ve identified all the equipment that is wearing out. And we’re looking for a 20 to 25-year life cycle to kind of reset that number for our clients.”

To some, this holistic approach could potentially look like unnecessary scope creep at a significant increase in costs to building owners. But Hunter goes on to explain, “We’re not asking owners and managers to spend more money on the project than they need to. What we do is help owners and managers pick the right equipment and the right contractor for installation and ongoing quality maintenance— which in the long run saves money.”

“A safe, reliable elevator system provides a reduced risk environment for operating your elevators. A reliable system continues to operate for a longer period of time and requires less maintenance, so there’s less elevator downtime. The tenants and visitors are happier because the elevators are always running.”

Hunter has worked on hundreds of modernization projects during his 20-plus years in the industry. “My clients typically see a savings of five to 25% just by having a competitive bid process on a modernization project.” 

While an elevator consultant can work with a client during any phase of a modernization project, the benefits that come by working with a consultant extend to every phase of the project.

 “Some building owners and managers are well qualified to manage all aspects of an elevator modernization project and some aren’t comfortable with that,” Hunter explains. “Even if they are capable, an elevator system is usually the most expensive asset in a property, so it just makes sense to get someone with years of experience and that does this work every single day to at least provide a second pair of eyes on this project and give you advice going down the road.”

Hunter goes on to describe the different phases of any modernization project and how working with an ATIS elevator consultant can benefit clients at every step of their project.


Project Step Working with an ATIS elevator consultant Without a consultant
Equipment Survey ATIS will use a highly trained technical field consultant to thoroughly survey all parts of the equipment Maintenance contractor will most often use office staff to survey equipment
Determine Equipment Needs & Cost Forecasting ATIS will give an unbiased assessment of equipment so that you get quoted items you don’t need, and you get everything you do need. Maintenance contractor will decide what is needed.
Create Project Specs  ATIS will create detailed specifications including what types and brands of equipment are acceptable, and what performance criteria is required. N/A
Find Qualified Contractors ATIS will select vendors who are capable and skilled at doing the work and have available people power in your area to get the job done. N/A


Project Step Working with an ATIS elevator consultant Without a consultant
Solicit RFP’s ATIS will review specifications with qualified contractors and request bids N/A
Review Contractor Quotes ATIS will review all contractor quotes to make sure the comparison is apples to apples N/A
Facilitate Negotiations ATIS will negotiate with contractors to ensure all pricing, scope, and terms needs are met. N/A
Recommend Contractor Selection ATIS will recommend a contractor based on negotiations. N/A


Project Step Working with an ATIS elevator consultant Without a consultant
Manage construction project ATIS will hold contractor to schedule, SOW, and T&Cs N/A
Review Installation ATIS will review the installation N/A
Create punch list of deficiencies ATIS will write up all deficiencies N/A
Accept Final Turnover ATIS will not stop managing the project until a final acceptance with the jurisdiction is complete and the elevator is permitted Owner will manage the turnover

Hunter adds that, “Each elevator or modernization project should be handled with a minimum standard of quality or standard of care, which means to me, you don’t only upgrade the things that are required by the code. You look at the system holistically and identify all the things that are going to provide reliable, safe, ongoing operation for a long period of time.

At Atis, we’re not just gonna do the minimum, we’re gonna do the right thing for the client based on a comprehensive evaluation of the equipment—and every building’s different.

When asked what he wants building managers and owners to know about working with Atis elevator consultants on any elevator project, Hunter says, “We love to engage clients early on in the process of modernization. We’re open to listening and giving constructive feedback on any project regardless of if the manager or owner ends up working with us or not. 

Give us a call or send us an email, you’ve got nothing to lose.”