Ignored Disabled Man Builds His Own Damn Elevator


There’s an old saying that goes something like, “When the going gets tough, the tough builds their own 5-story wheelchair lift.”

Actually we’re pretty sure that’s not even close to how the saying goes, but when his local council turned their backs on [Dmitry Bibikow’s] request for wheelchair access to his apartment, that’s exactly what he did.

[Dmitry], an avid mountaineer, was injured in a climbing accident that left him without the use of his legs. Unfortunately for him, he and his family reside on the 5th floor of an apartment building that was not handicap accessible. Rather than move out, he asked the local council to install an elevator, which they agreed to.

Time passed, and as the project sank deeper and deeper into a mire of bureaucracy, [Dmitry] began to lose hope of ever seeing an elevator installed. After six years of relying on friends to help him get in and out of his apartment, he took matters into his own hands and installed a chair lift just off the side of his balcony.

According to [Dmitry] it works great, and he can get from the front door to his apartment well before his more able neighbors make it up the stairs. So far, the city council has not said anything about the lift, and he hopes it stays that way.

57 thoughts on “Ignored Disabled Man Builds His Own Damn Elevator

  1. @Matt – Yea but he’s a mountaineer, he’s used to haging in the air from ropes.

    As for the government after six years of nothing I bet it takes them 2 weeks before they send a swat team around to force him to take it down.

  2. That’s awesome. Well done, sir.

    Do remember to send the bill to the property owner. It’s a little sad that he had to resort to this, as awesome as it is. Where I live, they’d send a swat team over accessibility issues like that (our whole building just got $2,000 per unit in special assessments levied for our elevators).

    PS, might want to take a notch out of that windowsill before it becomes a problem. :)

  3. ”When the going gets tough, the tough builds their own 5-story wheelchair lift.”

    A lift that was made with a Harbor Freight hoist that cost $60 – $80. While it has a working load rating of about 440 lbs…… I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS trust Harbor Freight with life or limb.

  4. Honestly what I see here is destruction of property. He is renting, not owning and shouldn’t be modifying the building at all. There seams to have been a lot of other poor choices as well. Signing a contract on an apartment in a building without a lift, why not switch for ground floor? Not getting the agreement to install the lift put in writing and trusting in it to happen. The council for not keeping it’s promise, and the person responsible for the design of the building, it’s not a private building, it was built as housing, and has five floors, it really should have had a lift from the start or at least a service elevator.

    1. its obvious you must be a slum lord , i think its great that a man that is STUCK by the fast response of those that may help drag feet like anchors GOD bless him for figuring out how to take things into his own hands, sure its not safe but his safety should be the formost concern not the damn building
      Semper Fi

  5. @SexieWASD this was in the UK – over there the word “apartment” can refer not only to a rented apartment but also what we in the US would typically call a “condo”. The Daily Mail article refers to him as having bought it.

  6. @matt

    if he falls his legs might..oh wait nevermind.

    as most of you noticed this joke was done in poor taste, unfortunately this is the world we live in. i love the hack, but the safety concerns me. Not so much for the user, but more so for the people below him. What if he fell and killed a person? perhaps getting in and out of his apartment in such a way isn’t the best, unfortunately the city isn’t doing anything to help him and i applaud him for gaining awareness to his cause.

  7. I fail to see how it is a government’s responsibility or a private organization to cater to those disabled due to such circumstances. You can’t find any other place to live??? You got hurt because of your damned hobby, then expect the rest of the populace to foot the bill. Screw you.

  8. @SexieWASD
    Most housings do not have elevators/lifts. Even at 5 stories.
    Also, if he bought the property, I assume he had no contract in which they could add an elevator clause. Though I would imagine that he could have written a contract for them.

    I don’t see a safety issue of him falling on anyone, the elevator is on the side of the building (not the front near the street) and between windows.

  9. @Spork
    it’s not a factor of if or when he would fall on someone, but could. anytime someone could get hurt enough to cause serious injury or death there is some type of warning. the least he could do it tape off or paint off an area where people would know there might be someone coming from above. this would then stop anyone one from becoming a victim and stop them from suing Dmitry or the owner of the building. Safety first.

  10. Most houses where I live don’t have an elevator, and those who do are usually newer and hence pricier. Since he got a promise of an elevator, I don’t see where he is at fault.

    sariel does have a point, though. Normal elevators are thoroughly tested by safety inspections, and even those can’t fall on people.

  11. To be honest, it’s not really that dengerous. It comprises of a winch and a steel pulley. I just hope hes got a battery backup incase the power is cut and he needs to evaluate. A fob would also be useful, so he can use it by himself.

  12. Oh quit your bitchin’ already, safety this, safety that, property this, destruction that, its bloody russia, if you’re disabled, you’re fucked, there are no services for disabled whatsoever, moreover somewhere deep like Voronezh, getting a wheelchair lift is near to impossible. So just stop, and cut man some slack.

  13. I understand that portable rigging similar as this is used to move furniture into apartments in buildings without sufficient elevators, even in the USA. Any danger to others on the ground is overstated. A hazardous zone can be marked on the ground. Dmitry or the person at the controls can shout a warning, anyone would ignores the warnings, may deserve what happens to them. I guess there is a chance that a blind person who can’t hear could happen by, but that would be very remote, and a tactile warning surface could be applied in addition to audio, and visual warnings.

    Without any build details it would be hard to judge any danger it may presents to Dmitry himself or how it may effect the structure. While Dmitry may have purchased the apartment I really doubt he is the sole owner of the structure where the lift is mounted.
    Where it’s apparent an effective “swat team” that acts in the interest of the disabled in Russia doesn’t exist the city isn’t likely to say anything about the lift if it’s the city or State owns the building, because they will use it as an excuse to not install an elevator. As a member of the disability community, I recognized right off that Dmitry still remains dependent on someone to operate the lift, a proper elevator needs to be installed still.

    @SexieWASD mostly true, just like the abled bodied have to do often, the disabled have to take the gamble verbal promise will be meet if they are need of shelter.

    @Dave the window in the photo used by HAD is not where Dmitry enters the apartment. My guess is that the healthy residents in your building use any elevators installed because of the assessment on a daily basis, and are are in place if you and any of the other become disability. Everyone is only a moment from being disabled. Anyone looking to purchase or rent a home in a multistory building, should avoid those that don’t have elevators, because sooner or later they will be installed. Even those who rent pay any assessments. 21 years after the ADA became law there really shouldn’t be any multi-story residence buildings without out elevators.

  14. “Signing a contract on an apartment in a building without a lift, why not switch for ground floor?”

    Because he knew he’d lose his legs when he bought the place?

    “Not getting the agreement to install the lift put in writing and trusting in it to happen.”

    The issue is not that it won’t happen, but that it won’t happen any time soon.

  15. @N0LKK – It just looked it it was in the way.

    And I’m not really complaining about our assessments (too much)… we need the elevators to work. Especially since I know there’s at least one elderly person on the 3rd floor that could never use the stairs.

  16. The way I see it, If the council makes him take it down, then I’d say, “No way, you promised to install one, and you didn’t. So I made one. You want it taken down, then you better have one ready to replace it.”

  17. @Matt: the second paragraph of the article is explicit: he bought it because they promised building the elevator to help him, therefore he was already paralyzed at the time.

  18. What I see here is some people who don’t understand how important accessibility is to someone who is handicapped.

    How many of you would be ashamed to have to resort to your neighbors carrying you up and down the stairs when you’re used to not only climbing them on your own power but FRIGGIN’ MOUNTAINS?

    Move? Are you serious? How can he afford to move? If he owns an apartment (flat) that he and his family lives in, and he’s completely lost his mobility and physical strength that he HAD TO HAVE taken pride in to be a mountain climber, how can you expect him to move, let alone afford to?

    The ‘council’ referred to here sounds much like an HOA to me. If my HOA promised to do something to preserve my accessibility to my home and then couldn’t afford to do it, I’d expect that if I built a cheap interim solution, that they’d reimburse me the cost and once they’d built the accessibility feature to safety code standards, that they’d pay to remove my hardware.

    Fortunately, I was injured before I bought my home so I made sure that I purchased one that could accommodate me should I end up in a wheelchair myself. Not everyone is so ‘lucky’ though.

    @sexieWASD you seriously sound like you have never had to deal with anything happening after the fact so I imagine that you’re the luckiest gamer (wasd?) in the world.

  19. What’s that I-beam attached to?

    I really hope for his sake that there’s a good reliable stop on the end of that beam, a hoist is only as strong as whatever it’s attached to.

    It also might not be a bad idea to put a retractable cord reel next to the hoist and connect that to the controls, that way the controls would be wherever the hook is (or whatever method he uses to connect the cable to the chair). This way he would be able to operate the lift entirely by himself.

    Also rather than scratching the chair on the building, he should turn the chair 90 degrees and let the backs of the wheels roll their way up and down the side of the building.

  20. His body, his life, his flat == his choice.

    Bit worrying about damage he may cause to other people’s flats on the way up/down, but then they should have been hassling the council to have the lift installed.

  21. Hello from Russia here.

    Ok, some info here – if you are disabled in Russia – you are screwed. State is trying to make social help but money is always find a hole to someone pocket or anything. So, no lift for 6 years isnt really surprising, more surprising that local council even promising something like that. In russian news article about him that “promise” isnt even mentioned.
    Building, where guy lives is standard 5-stories panel condominium, named “khrushoba” (from Khrushev who started mass cheap homes building in 60-ties). Stairs in such a buildings are very narrow and steep, so any movement of ill/disabled is very hard. I didnt see any elevators to built in such a buildings (I think, it can be impossible at all, because of its panel wall structure). In older, brick buildings in St Petersburg or Moscow elevator can be built – where price of apartment even in very old, pre 1900 building high as skies.
    So, better way for Dimitry was change/sell this apartment and buy ground floor one, but we dont know all the circumstances. Money is always a problem.
    So I think hes doing most that he can in this situation, now it all depends on good will of local government – will they allow this dangerous construction to stay or just prohibit its use. Probably, second choice will be made, I think.

    Another DIY elevator for disabled in news here http://kp.ru/daily/25671/832184/ Article is in Russian, but there is a photo. This elevator is more classical in design, and height is only 2 store. Man built it with help of friends, cost is about 2000$, and get all permissions from local government.

    Hope this shed some light on case, and sorry for bad English.

  22. I’d like to see how you, lazy fat slobs so worried about safety who earn things by prosecuting others instead of getting off of your fucking asses and actually doing something, would do any better than this guy. He is a winner who, despite his disability, can still walk with his own feet. (pun intended)
    My mom became paraplegic after a car accident and, if she lived in any place where stairs could limit her mobility, I wouldn’t wait a week to make such device to her, even if I was made sure there would be an elevator ready in a couple of months. You guys definitely do not have even the slightest clue what is it like to have your freedom taken away from you.

  23. Trolls, man… trolls… listen… that thing y’all are doing? Yeah, that… not at all clever. Actually it’s quite petty and immature.

    If you’re gonna be a nay-sayer at least think your nay’s through all the way.

    re: “getting the agreement in writing”… Not needed. It was during a local council meeting so it’s in the meeting minutes.

    re: “travesty a building was designed that isn’t fully accessible”… sometimes some countries aren’t as rabid as some others about making sure everything is constructed to be usable by everybody given whatever malady has befallen them no matter how rare.. no saying being in a wheelchair is a rare handicap, just a comment on the extent that some people seem to think things need to be made handi-accessible.

    re: “not a private building, shoulda had a lift from the start”… Housing most certainly *IS* a private building. Unless it was built as ‘project housing’, it’s not paid for by public funds and therefore isn’t a public building. If this is indeed a ‘condo’ like arrangement then that makes it all the more a private building. Some of these buildings even have door locks and doormen to keep the public *out*.

    that takes care of the rest of sexieWASD’s points… who else…

    re: “not if or when he falls on someone, but he could and that needs to be prevented”… and a jet engine could land on my head anytime I step out my door, actually a jet engine could probably just blast through my roof and get at my head even if I’m inside. Accident’s happen, such is life. Besides, If you’re oblivious enough to walk under a man in a wheelchair being lowered by a winch you probably deserve to have said man in wheelchair land on your head.

    Instead of picking work and ingenuity apart with lame excuses that don’t hold water try being impressed that a man BOUND TO A WHEELCHAIR and getting no support when he tried to do things the ‘proper’ way, got his own support from people that care about him and his well-being and together they came up with and implemented a way for him to overcome YET ANOTHER HURDLE LIFE HAS PLACED BEFORE HIM. EVEN AFTER ALL THE OTHER HURDLES NOT TO MENTION AN ORDEAL THAT MOST LIKELY THREATENED HIS VERY LIFE.

    So freaking what… so it’s not OSHA approved.

    It gets a man and his wheelchair into his apartment without the aid of a couple big and burly friends, thereby restoring a huge amount of this handicapped man’s independence and ,likely, self-esteem as well.

    If Dmitry were my neighbor I’d have no complaints and would be more than happy to glance up on my way by to make sure he wasn’t on his way down… …If Dmitry were my neighbor I probably would have been one of the people helping to rig this contraption.

  24. You gentlemen will use any opportunity to criticise someone. As soon as a decent hack is posted, someone will complain about why it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
    We can all see that it’s not an ideal solution. Perhaps if Dmitry had better resources and working conditions, he’d have been able to build a more safe elevator, but that clearly isn’t the case here. He made use of whatever was available and produced a functional solution to his problem. It’s certainly better than nothing.
    I think this is a very impressive display of resourcefulness and initiative. I applaud this man for taking matters into his own hands and for not letting himself be hindered by his disability.

  25. It makes sense to me from the town council’s point of view. He partakes in risky thrill sports. The dog comes with the fleas. You’re gonna get hurt doing extreme things. In the case of Russia, you can only do extreme things if you can afford it. I seriously doubt I would haul my neighbor up and down the stairs if he was injured in say, a hangliding accident. You had your fun (and even though it sucks) now look why all those people were yelling at ya not to do it. As for my geriatric neighbors, I still haul their bags of groceries up the stairs for them and occassionally take them to the hospital for medical stuff because they’re old and unable-not because they were thrillseekers that lived life to the fullest with a devil-may-care attitude.

    Kudos to the builder for taking care of his own fleas.

    /Everyone that is incredulous of this article should really try visiting another country some time. Outside of England’s Nanny state, you are treated a little more like an “adult” (no extraneous guard rails etc.) and although I’ve never been to the part of Russia this guy is from, those condo flophouses already have many problems, stairs being low on the list since they don’t start fires constantly. Heck, it could be that the Russian mafia owns the building and would sooner let it melt into the ground than let someone do something constructive with it. We are very quickly heading in the same direction without jobs for returning troops. In russia, they are fed HGH/meth and are sent round to collect the money or harass citizens into extortion. Maybe ww3 will be here before all that shakes out over here lol….

  26. From a technical standpoint (and from the standpoint of someone helping themselves when “the system” fails them) this is an awesome hack. However, I have to agree with the sentiment that I would never trust my safety to a company like Harbor Freight. The kinds of companies that make actual climbing gear put a lot more effort into quality control than a bargain basement Chinese tool manufacturer.

    In addition, even if he purchased the hoist from a better company, there is a major difference between a normal hoist and an elevator. Real elevators have a lot of safety features that just aren’t included with a hoist. Also, both elevator and hoists found in business environments (at least here in the U.S.) have to be tested, regularly, to make sure the safety features work as well as to check how much the chain or cable has stretched.

    The chain/cable on hoists and elevators ALWAYS stretches over time/use. This is a basic function of the material properties of the steel used in their construction. It is inevitable that the chain/cable will eventually break. Of course, this stretching will be faster, or slower, depending on how often the hoist/elevator is used and how close to its max load the average load happens to be.

  27. My grandfather built something similar, although it is indoors and only traverses a single story (main floor to the basement.) It’s basically just a shaft and car made from wood, and a counterweight made from a large cement block. The winch lifts the car, which is connected via a pulley to a counterweight. It has the controls for the winch in the car, and a brace at the bottom of the shaft to secure the car against the counterweight when he steps out. The winch is not very high quality, but I help him maintain the cable (lubricate, eventually cut off a dozen feet when it starts to wear) to keep it functional and safe.

    He suffers from peripheral neropathy in which he experiences constant burning pain in his feet, and his knees are also very worn to the point he can no longer climb stairs; he should have artificial knees but he’s been told (if I remember correctly) that he wouldn’t survive the surgery due to clotting problems.

    He’s a very independent person, and while most of his extended family tries to keep him inside and do everything for him, I think being able to do things yourself to improve your own situation (to the extent you are willing and capable) is one of the most empowering activities available to a disabled person.

  28. @ Colecoman1982: In the US it seems like the government expects people not to do their own safety tests. This guy is trusting himself to this lift, and had enough sense to put together something that works in the first place. I’d be willing to bet he’d be smart enough to notice when the cable finally begins to go bad.

    1. 200KG approx. A somewhat fat bloke can weigh 100KG, a very fat bloke quite a bit more. Admittedly this one doesn’t look too fat. But then the ironmongery that lets his wheels turn is also a fairly significant number of kilos. Sure there’s a fair margin, but he’s maybe loading it to 60%ish of it’s design maximum. Real lifts have much higher safety factors than that. Each cable has to be capable of supporting twice the rated load, and there have to be at least two cables. Usually there’s 4 or 6.

      And of course there’s a series of things that can all fail quite dangerously, he’s relying on everything working at once, there’s no redundancy, unlike a real lift.

      I suppose his theory is a combination of “I lost my legs, how much worse could my luck be?”, and the indominable Russian spirit that they sell in 70cl bottles.

      But it was tempting fate that put him in the chair in the first place.

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