A New Mover’s Guide to Inspecting a Home for Security
One of the most valuable aspects of a home can also be one of the most difficult to look for if you aren’t sure how to see it. In fact, it is one of the essential reasons we need shelter: safety. Following this guide, prospective home owners can feel more secure in their final decision and minimize the likelihood of experiencing a break-in.
There are a lot of factors that change how much crime happens in any given neighborhood, but most of these can’t be seen in a home. However, there are a lot of clues you can observe to tell you how safe a neighborhood is. For starters, check the area you’re interested in online; CrimeReports is a great interactive tool. Then, answer some questions about the area:
- Does the area have a history of crime in the past decade? Determine how severe and frequent crime in the area has been.
- Are there many foreclosed homes in the area? Vacant homes are inviting to crimes of all sorts, including vandalism, theft, drug dealing, and prostitution.
- Is the community gated and off the beaten path, or is it easily accessible? Neighborhoods closer to heavy traffic are more likely to be targeted by a criminal.
- Are your neighbor’s homes secured with fences, security alarms, and gates? If they are, you’re likely in a higher-income neighborhood with better defended homes − which are a great deterrent.
- Is there an obvious income disparity between areas nearby? Unfortunately, that might lead to more potential criminals in the area.
These are just a few of many questions you can ponder to determine how safe the area is. But even if your neighbors are safe, that might end up irrelevant if your home isn’t safe, too.
When most people consider home security, the first object that comes to mind is a home alarm system. For new home owners, moving into a place with a security system already installed can be enticing. But in truth, a home’s security involves countless aspects of the home. And even if there is an alarm, you’ll need to check to make sure it’s adequate for the home’s needs.
Generally speaking, a safe home is one that looks lived in; vacant homes are always more tantalizing for crooks. This means keeping the lawn in order and the property in repair. If your prospective house is neither orderly nor well maintained, it’s likely unsafe (and you probably should run away screaming from the realty agent who brought you there to see it.)
Some features to look for in a safe house include a fence, a locked gate, theft-resistant window designs, and durable doors with deadlocks on the outside. The fence should at least be six feet high if it is intended to keep people out, and preferably be constructed of a sturdy and difficult to mount material. Doors should be secured; if there are sliding doors, make sure to check for anti-jimmy plates. Check that no hedges, trees, or other foliage impairs your vision towards or away from the house, since these areas could be used as cover for burglars.
If a home security system is in place, make sure that it adequately covers the house; security system providers often offer cheap packages at appealing prices, but these are inflexible for all needs. Confirm that all doors leading outside are installed, along with any windows that can be accessed. Consider second story windows that might be accessed via nearby trees or a ladder. If there are motion detectors, ask the security provider how they’ve been calibrated, since they are often adjusted for people with pets who leave large blind spots in the system. Finally, make sure all equipment has been maintained and is functional for use before considering arming it.
The next time you’re searching for a new place to call home, these tips will help you find one that is secure. Because the best home for you is not just one that provides a roof over your head, but also a place that puts your mind at ease.
Ben Thatcher is a DIY home security guy who lives in rural Idaho on a ranch with his loving wife. He currently writes home security tips and tutorials for Protect America.
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