Architectural Security - Designing Out Crime

If you have been considering a new home build or significant renovation of your property then it is highly likely that you will begin to seek the professional services and expert direction of architects, planners and builders. Unfortunately it is during these construction projects that many homeowners overlook or underestimate the importance of installing comprehensive security solutions which, if installed during this initial renovation process, can function almost invisibly and seamlessly harmonise with the proposed architectural design of their property. 

In fact, many homeowners are reluctant to consider installing these security systems during renovation projects due to their unsightly nature. At Blackstone Consultancy we recognise this concern and acknowledge that if you have devoted a significant amount of time, effort and financial resources into a comprehensive renovation project then the last thing you will want is for your newly upgraded home to be blighted by unsightly surveillance cameras and obtrusive wiring! However, it is during these early design stages of your building project where it can prove instrumental to arrange a consultation with a reputable security company. By doing so, you can successfully integrate a highly proficient security system within the fabric of your property that will compliment the architectural characteristics and proposed lines of your dream home. 

Consequently, by installing extensive surveillance and motion detection systems at the beginning of a renovation project you can safeguard your home against potential intruders and hazards whilst simultaneously ensuring that these innovative security solutions do not detract from your stylistic preferences regarding doors, windows or any other exterior and interior design flourishes that you wish to construct.

Following on from our previous editorial regarding layered security and how to secure your home, this piece will equip you with exclusive industry insights concerning security systems and their installation during home renovations. Irrespective of whether your property is undergoing a major redevelopment or if you are planning to construct a entirely new build, this piece will illustrate the innovative ways in which architects can seamlessly blend state of the art security solutions during the construction stages of a building’s development as opposed to haphazardly installing rudimentary systems as an afterthought!

When it comes to securing your home, the location of the property in question is always a key factor. For instance; whereas a Kensington town house that is located along a main pavement will never be invaded through the front door without arising suspicion from nearby residents, a countryside estate that has no adjacent neighbours or passersby for miles could fall victim to a main entrance breach. 

In recent years certain incidents have caused the police to re-examine the term ‘crime prevention'; most notably the Hatton Garden safe deposit robbery that took place over the Easter weekend. These high profile cases reveal that it is never truly possible to prevent a crime if the criminals involved are extremely motivated. As such, the term ‘crime prevention’ has been replaced with the more appropriate ‘crime reduction’ terminology. In fact, many modern security professionals refer to this term as ‘designing out crime’ due to the fact that there are numerous security solutions which homeowners can adopt to safeguard their property against these types of determined intruders.

At Blackstone Consultancy we recognise the threat that these criminals pose to influential homeowners. To rectify this dilemma, we have devised the following top ten home design tips which you can utilise to actively prevent intruders from targeting and invading your property: 

Doors

When homeowners begin to consider the security of their property, doors are usually the first point of entry which they will consider. Although you may fear that your front door will be the primary target for potential intruders, criminals usually only attempt to force entry through a front door if they are reckless or confident that no-one is present to witness the attack. As a rule, when considering the security of your property’s doors you should invest in multi-point locking systems. These doors will be locked in at least three places once the key has been turned thereby making them infinitely more difficult to force open than single locked doors. Depending upon your individual preferences you can purchase these security rated doors with a vast array of additional safeguards; from basic models with sold wooden cores to more advanced fixtures with ballistic properties. 

Windows

From a security perspective, glass will always be the weakest material within your property which in turn identifies your windows and glass doors as vulnerable points of entry for criminals. Unfortunately if you own a listed building then this danger can be exacerbated due to the fragility of the single pane glass that is often found in sash windows. Although these types of windows cannot be replaced without considerable applications, you can laminate the inside of these fixtures with invisible yet resilient security laminate film which will prevent the glass from breaking. Even if a criminal were to shatter the glass, they would have to cut through this film with a knife which would take time, cause noise and undoubtedly arouse suspicion.

Similarly to windows, glass doors can be lined with polycarbonate lined glass sheets which are impervious to knives. Moreover, you can also rapidly and effortlessly install several window locks and bolts to the glass fixtures throughout your home in order to limit their opening to a few inches. By doing so, you can keep your home cool and ventilated throughout warmer seasons whilst simultaneously preventing opportunistic thieves from entering your property. 

Locks

If you own a large property with multiple doors then you may wish to invest in an electronically coded key which can open all the doors within your home. This highly proficient technologically device can even be reprogrammed in order to make lost or stolen keys obsolete. Not only will this reprogramming process be far cheaper and more convenient than replacing locks, but it will also drastically reduce the amount of keys that you and your family have to protect. However, above all else you should remember that a lock is only as strong as the strike plate into which it locks and, as such, you should ensure that the frames of your doors are as robust as the locks you install! 

Gardens

Your garden spaces are vital in protecting the environment between your home and public property. Subsequently, you should endeavour to landscape your garden in a manner which will minimise the amount of shadowed areas at nights and covered spaces during the day. From the lighting features you install to the shrubs and trees you plant, every aspect of your garden should be considered from a security perspective. For this reason it is advisable to consult with a professional landscape gardener who can help to balance the natural atmosphere and sanctuary properties of your garden with its multi-purpose security capabilities. 

Lighting deterrents

Intruders will primarily targeted isolated properties with secluded alleyways, pathways or garden spaces that they can utilise to enter your home undetected. To deter these types of opportunistic criminals you should ensure that the ambient lighting surrounding your home distributes a steady flow of lumens across your property. This simple yet highly effective process will enable you to see as much of your land as possible and easily detect any potential intruders. However, you should bear in mind that if you have installed CCTV cameras throughout your property then you will need to tailor your lighting features to support the infra-red functions of these cameras. 

Neighbours

Regardless of whether your neighbours are amicable or irritating, they can serve as vital extra sets of eyes on your land. Even though your privacy is paramount, the informal surveillance of neighbours can deter burglars. Consequently, you should always consider how much of your property will be visible to your neighbours when you are designing the layout of your property and updating its security systems. 

En-suite safe rooms

En-suite rooms can make ideal safe rooms because they often lack external windows and are located in close proximity to your family’s bedrooms so they can be quickly reached in the event of a home invasion. You can reinforce your safe room by adding steel mesh behind marine ply and then plastering these walls to mask their security upgrades. Additionally, you can further improve the security of your safe room by replacing the door with a solid core or security rated door with dead bolts at the top and storing a fully charged pay-as-you-go mobile phone within your safe room with which to call the authorities if your home is invaded. 

Multiple safes

It is strongly recommended that you install at least three safes within your home; one in your bedroom for everyday use, one that is hidden in a remote area of your property for infrequently used valuables, and one in the living room as a ‘duress safe’ that stores a small amount of money and jewellery that can be easily replaced. By owning a ‘duress safe’, you will be able to direct intruders towards this safe in the event that your home is invaded and they will take these inconsequential valuables rather than your most prized possessions that are stored in your hidden safe. 

Integrated technical detection systems

Given the recent advancements in hacking and the availability to purchase spy tools on eBay, it is highly advised that you hardwire your home’s intruder detection systems and CCTV devices wherever possible. Furthermore, if you are extensively renovating your property or constructing a new build then you should strive to integrate your fire alarm installer with your burglar alarm installer. You should also manage your intruder detection systems and CCTV devices on a software package that can be regularly upgraded. By carrying out these comprehensive technological measures, you can ensure that your home security systems are compatible with the latest video analytics and technological innovations as well as ensuring that they are perpetually operate to the best of their ability in order to detect the presence of intruders and alert your attention towards potential hazards.

Pay close attention to detail

As any architect will be sure to tell you, your security enhancements do not have to detract from the sophisticated aesthetics of your home! Irrespective of your individual stylistic preferences or the scale of your renovation project, security enhancements can always be adapted to blend in with the interior and exterior design finishes of your home. Even if your property is a listed building, by consulting with your architect and security company you can implement a broad spectrum of security solutions and technological innovations which will safeguard your home against potential threats whilst simultaneously complimenting the majesty of your property.

This blog was written by Rick Mounfield, Operations Director at Blackstone Consultancy Ltd. Blackstone Consultancy Ltd are private security specialists and provide individuals and companies with bespoke, discreet, yet exceptionally vigilant security arrangements.

http://www.blackstoneconsultancy.com/

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