The shell of the house with its doors and windows has always been considered the barrier to keep unwelcome outsiders out. What can be done in terms of materials and structure to make this happen— without disturbing the aesthetics of the house and its livability?
The vast majority of criminal trespasses into homes are made through the doors. Windows are the second most common entry point. There are very secure doors being made that are just as nice as any. They do cost more. Simple builder quality exterior doors can be made much more secure through the installation of a “door armor” kit that reinforces the door jamb.
Windows will ideally be impact-rated with a secure window lock. Many window locks can be overcome with a simple pry bar, prying between the sash and the sill. Window security film can be installed on the window if impact ratings are not an option. In both cases, reinforced doors and windows look the same as the unreinforced versions.
What can be done with the design of the house to provide a higher level of security for the occupants?
One primary interior design element that should be included is the creation of a safe room. This can simply be the master bedroom with a layer of plywood under the sheetrock adjacent to the bedroom door. The door should be a solid door with a reinforced frame and a deadbolt lock. A second element would be the installation of a solid, reinforced frame door dividing the living area from the sleeping area. Closing and locking this door at night or in the event of an invasion will provide time for police to arrive.
A carefully designed lot layout can allow for the driveway to provide a natural scan of the exterior of the house as the owner approaches. Combined with proper landscaping, the driver will never be surprised by an attacker.
What other elements should be built into a home to make it more secure?
There are an amazing amount of possibilities in secure home design. The principles used to create barriers to crime can be applied to almost any design with minimal structural changes. A Secure Home Professional can work with an architect in the design stage, make suggestions to the builder during construction to ensure the effectiveness of the design, and be a resource to the homeowner to train them in the use of the Secure Home.
We recognize that a home can be built to enhance security, but if the “castle gate” is left open it is all in vain. After measures have been built in to harden a home, what kind of suggestions would be given in the “owners manual”?
Ideally there will be detailed instruction for the homeowner in both the owner’s manual and in person. The homeowner will need to be taught how to use the equipment and will need to be taught how to interact with the home so that things become habit. It should be a habit to always set the alarm. Other habits might include: locking the exterior doors every time they are opened, backing the car into the driveway, locking the door separating the living areas from the sleep areas every night, checking window and door locks after any workman or delivery person is in the home, replacing non-functioning lights immediately, and not opening the door to any strangers, ever.
Rolf Parelius has worked in the construction
trades off and on from high school until starting his own business,
Viking Construction Services, in 2003.
Rolf has spent many years studying security and personal safety. Rolf earned a professional designation in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in 2016 from the National Institute of Crime Prevention. Rolf’s passion is to teach others how to improve their personal safety and security and is enhanced by his NAHB designations, CAPS, CGR, and CGP. He can be reached at