used the 2016 FBI crime report statistics and population data to prepare a list of the 10 safest cities in Georgia (see sidebar). In these cities the chance of being victim to a violent crime or property crime is close to 90% lower than the national average. However, even in these cities, residents don’t necessarily feel secure. They are aware of reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (Department of Justice) citing 15.9 million property victimizations in 2016 (the latest reporting period), which translates to 9% of U. S. households experiencing at least one property victimization during the year. Longer-term studies, like one conducted in 1987, report that 72% of all households experienced at least one burglary during one’s lifetime. Although more prevalent in urban areas, they can happen anywhere.
We all look to our home as being a place where we can be secure, shielded from elements on the outside that may wish to do us harm or take what’s ours. We want think of our home as our castle. So it is very disconcerting when any kind of home invasion occurs.
Considering the significance of this in the psyche of homeowners and home buyers, it is surprising how little thought goes into the security of a house during the planning and building process. We definitely pay a lot of attention to aesthetics, convenience, and maybe efficiency—because that’s usually what’s top-of-mind for people in the buying process. Then, after they buy the house, we expect the new homeowners to deal with security issues later. But wouldn’t it be a real bonus to be able to point out to them how their home has been designed and equipped to provide an unusual degree of security?
Rolf Parelius, a remodeling contractor who works in downtown New Orleans, has for years been studying these issues and honing his ideas on how to build better security into homes. He covers the gamut from both the “bricks and mortar” aspects of the equation (e. g. what materials should windows be made of) to the lifestyle aspects (e. g. planning and self-defense). Here are his responses to questions we posed in a recent interview.
In your opinion, why should a builder care about building security into the structure of the home?
Builders can see a myriad of benefits from improved home security “designed in” from the start. The first is the ability to upsell. Windows and doors that are better from a security standpoint cost more. Providing the client with an improvement that meets their desires and needs can produce an increase in profit margin. The client will spend these dollars after the house is complete to improve their perceived security, so it only makes sense for the builder to capture that revenue. The builder can partner with a professional to provide real solutions that end up being a far better value for the client than if the client attempted to seek these solutions on their own.
Other benefits include enhanced curb appeal, a product that the prospect is much more likely to desire, the ability to differentiate themselves from the “average” builder, the ability to market improved storm resistance, etc.
As you think about developing a more secure home, for what kind of situations would you design the home to prevent?
The Secure Home will include mitigations for several threats in its design. The most notable is home invasion. Properly, there is great concern to prevent home invasions. A properly designed home will incorporate five layers that will serve to prevent them. Common burglaries will be addressed in the design. The Secure Home will create an uncomfortable environment for the “abnormal user” (the guy you don’t want in your yard) through the use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles. These improvements will also provide improved