General Q&A – The Answers to All of Your Wheelchair Access Questions

Find answers to any technical queries here

    1. How do the lifts work?
    2. I have stone steps and I want to keep the stone. Is that possible?
    3. Any other issues?
    4. The staircase is the only exit out of the building, so is also a fire exit. Can the Sesame lift be installed?
    5. How long does it take for a cycle of the lift?
    6. Does Sesame service the lift?
    7. Can I see a lift in action? I want to see how sturdy it is.
    8. How long do the lifts last?
    9. My building is Grade I listed and is 100 years old. Surely I can’t modify the building to fit a Sesame Access lift?
    10. What is the lead in times for Sesame lifts?
    11. Do you export overseas?
    12. Some wheelchair lifts are attached to the side of the wall and are really visible. How are Sesame Access different?
    13. How much do the lifts cost?
    14. How much weight does the lift carry?
    15. How long has Sesame Access been trading?
    16. Who have you built lifts for in the past?
    17. How do I find out more?



How do the lifts work?

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At the touch of a button, the stairs will retract into the building to reveal a platform lift, which will take the wheelchair user to the upper landing, allowing them to enter the building with ease. The platform will retract, the stairs will re-take their position, and the cycle will operate in reverse to bring wheelchair users to the lower landing.


Is it possible to keep the same stone?

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Yes! Our unique Sesame stair lifts can be clad with whatever material you require – marble, stone, concrete, carpet… anything! The finish of our lifts is of paramount importance to us, so we want to make sure we get it right. Please note that cladding labour and materials are excluded from our initial quotes.


Any other issues?

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Sesame Lifts situated outside the building may also need a sump pump.

We ask the Client to route conduit in the walls for the Sesame button control panels.


The staircase I’d like my lift on is also a fire exit. Can I still install a lift?

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We’d ask to speak to your Fire Officer at the start of the enquiry in order to discuss this and get their advice. British Standards do state that, in the event of a fire, no lifts can be used within the building in case of an electricity supply failure – we can supply battery back-ups with the lift to ensure this isn’t a problem, but we would insist that the client has a strict fire procedure in place. Again, every individual case is different, so talk to us to find out more about your options.


How long is a lift cycle?

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Lifts can travel a maximum of 150mm per second, which gives us the following timings*:









*We usually restrict our speed more than the allowed 150mm per second to allow for a smoother, safer lift cycle


Does Sesame service the lift?

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Yes. Every lift comes with a one-year warranty as standard, which includes one service six months after installation. We strongly recommend that Sesame also services your lift after the warranty period has expired. British Standards recommends lifts are serviced every six months by the manufacturer. The engineers who service our lifts are the same engineers who have built and installed our lifts.


Can I see a lift in action?  I want to see how sturdy it is.

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Yes you can. Give us a call with your location, and we’ll do our best to arrange a viewing of a similar lift in action closest to you. We may need to pre-arrange permission from our original client.


How long do the lifts last?

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Our lifts are made by hand in our workshop in Surrey. The body of the lift is steel, and all components are high quality and built to last. Our oldest lift is currently 17 years old! It’s regularly serviced and used around three times a week by wheelchair users for functions. It’s still in perfect condition. We expect our lifts to last at least 25 years with regular maintenance, and we can provide any necessary parts for replacement to keep the lift in service after that.


My building is Grade I listed and is 100 years old.  Surely I can’t modify my building to fit a Sesame Access lift?

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All lifts require Planning Permission from the building’s Local Council.  In addition, the Council will refer the application to English Heritage (or Heritage Scotland) for modifications to Grade I, II* and Grade II Listed Buildings.

English Heritage (and Heritage Scotland) do not promote or endorse individual products, as they are completely independent.  However, they are very supportive of modifying Listed Buildings to incorporate high quality and architecturally pleasing wheelchair access solutions.  See link

English Heritage has given approval for Sesame Access to install their lifts in many Grade I, II* and II buildings throughout the UK.  In addition, many Councils have issued planning approval for Sesame Access lifts, including Westminster Council, London.  So a precedent has been made.

If you need to apply for Planning and Heritage permission, we can help by giving you examples of similar lifts that have been approved previously. Which should help your application.


What is the lead in times for Sesame Lifts?

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We estimate around 18 weeks. Our access lifts take ten weeks to design, six weeks to build and two weeks to be installed on your premises. We also include a one week contingency between each stage. If you require urgent access in a shorter timeframe, please talk to us and we can see what’s possible.


Do you export overseas?

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We do. We have installed lifts in France and Germany (including Apple stores and Sotheby’s Paris). We have TUV accreditation and are open to travelling the globe with our high quality products.


How are Sesame Access lifts different?

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The thing that really sets us apart from the crowd is the way we fully integrate our lifts into the very fabric of a building, to make them almost invisible. They can be clad with whatever material our client needs, and they represent the very highest standard of British engineering. For lifts with real architectural merit and quality all round, Sesame is unrivalled.


How much do your lifts cost?

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Each of our Sesame lifts comes with a personalised quote tailored to you and your needs – our team can go into detail with your and provide you with an in-depth quote that will cover the entire process. Get in touch to discuss your options with us!


How much weight does the lift carry?

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British Standards works out the Safe Working Load based on the size of the platform. However, as standard the Sesame lifts are loaded to 350KG. The lifting actuators are often fabricated to lift 2000KG. The client can request bespoke lifting loads.


How long has Sesame Access been trading?

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We have been trading since 1996, so we are currently in our 18th year of trading. Turnover has grown year on year, and we currently employ fifteen full-time staff including a highly experienced team of engineers, designers and support staff. In May 2013 we developed our ‘Three Year Strategy’, which includes increasing our exports to Europe and the Middle East. We know where we’re going, and how we’re going to get there! If any more proof was required, we were shortlisted for the 2013 British Engineering Excellence Awards in the Small Company category. It’s exciting times for Sesame!


Who have you built lifts for?

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Our client list reads like the great and good of all British monuments and important listed buildings: Kensington Palace, UK Supreme Court, Apple stores and France and Germany, Sotheby’s in Paris, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Tate Britain and The Barbican Centre. Not a bad resumé, we think you’ll agree!


How do I find out more?

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You can contact us in a myriad of ways, from calling our office to popping us a quick email. We are a friendly bunch and can answer any and all questions you may have about our lifts – if we don’t know, we’ll certainly find out! We are fantastic at coming up with new innovative solutions, so if your building has any design challenges, please get in touch. If a solution is possible, we will work with you to find the best solution.


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