A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Securing Your Home

Statistics for my area show that crime has gone down in past years, but securing your home is still a priority. There are many options; some of which can become problems for you when selling your home. I have found that people will have complaints about any security system, but we still want our home protected.

Looking at tactics of thieves in my neighborhood has led me to believe that dogs may be the best prevention scheme. A barking dog scares many thieves, since there is no way to know how the dog will react, or who will hear that dog. This option has its own hassles, but it is nice to have a family friend.

Home security systems, wether monitored or not, are the next best defense. The alarm will frighten some thieves, but in one instance that I am aware of, it caused the robbers to quickly go in and out of the home, so it was not entirely effective. The main complaint that I hear, which causes clients to stop using these systems, appears to be the sensitivity of the alarm. Alarms sound when the homeowner does not want the alarm. When the police have to come out three times, they start to charge the resident for the call. Many of theses occurrences can be prevented by some education over the use of the system, or a service call by a technician to repair some wiring. These systems do not need to be monitored by a company to make them work. The police and the fire department will not come out, but the alarms will sound.

Going down the list, the portable monitor which detects motion to sound its alarm is an option. These units only secure one room, so several are needed for an entire house. Mostly these units are used in the room with the most valuables. I have had some clients complain that the units are hard to set properly, so they end up not using them.

Burglar bars are still common in many neighborhoods. These can be quite decorative, and as long as all windows are covered, they are effective. My issue with them has to do with the style of securing them to the building. If you have a fire in the home, these bars should be easily opened by a keyless system from the interior. No other method will allow those inside escape a fire quickly. Few bars fit this criteria in my experience.

I have seen many home grown security systems. I never could understand the family that boarded up all of the windows and exits to their backyard. That was extreme prevention. I should mention an interesting security method that one owner developed. He used a clear sheet of thick plexiglass on the inside of the window. He held it in place with a simple knob arrangement. It might not have been the easiest to remove in a fire, but it could be. Since it was clear, he still enjoyed the view, but it made it difficult for a thief to gain access.

Whatever means you choose, think about how it works, does it meet your needs, will you consistently use it, and does it pose other safety issues. I suggest that you speak to friends and family to see what they think of their security means. Having a good relationship with neighbors is a good defense as well.

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