DIY is great for many things, but people usually take on such projects when they either need to fix something or boost the value of their home. More people should be thinking about DIY in the context of home security. Using DIY, you can install a lot of effective and cheap security solutions, as well as improve some of the areas of your property that might be spots of opportunity for criminals. Let’s take a look at some good ideas.
When we talk about DIY landscaping, we’re not usually thinking about particularly practical things. Sure, we may be doing some landscaping so we can fit something on the outside of our house such as some nice decking. But most of the time, landscaping is something done with the goal of making a visually attractive garden or front yard. We don’t tend to think to think of landscaping in the context of home security.
But here’s something you need to consider: most burglars are opportunists, and they tend to work with properties that allow them to get as close as possible to the home without being detected. The landscaping has much to do with this. Large bushes or shrubs around windows give criminals a place from which to lurk and peek with a possibility of you not detecting them. Make sure your landscaping is neat; when you look out at your front yard or back garden, it’s best that you can see everything, instead of there being ample places where someone could hide.
Not that I’ve ever done it myself, but I can tell you in some vivid detail what a prospective burglar fears as they’re nearing a target home: lights. They may know that you’re out of town, or perhaps they’re really confident in their ability to be quiet. It’s the dead of night, and there seems to be no activity around nor eyes on them. But as they’re approaching the house, burglars are afraid that exterior lighting will suddenly flood the lawn, seemingly out of nowhere. When that happens, they tend to make a dash for it—the bright lighting tends to alert people inside the house, or neighbors who know that the owners are away.
Installing such a system yourself is surprisingly simple, but you have to remember that you’re dealing with electricity, here. Using a voltmeter tool such as the Fluke 117 multimeter will help you gauge how much electricity you’re dealing with during each step, which can be vital for ensuring that you’re using the right tools and safety equipment. You also need to take care about where you install the various components of the system. The motion sensors should be placed so they activate when someone is about a third of the way to your door via the walkway; this helps prevent innocent passersby from activating the lights by accident!
Door + Window Reinforcement
So before we get into reinforcing doors and windows, here’s something you definitely need to have drilled into your memory: lock your doors and windows. Most burglars don’t actually “break in”; they don’t break and enter as much as they simply enter through a door that was left unlocked or a window that was left ajar. There’s no point reinforcing these things if you’re not going to close them!
Reinforcing your doors and windows is actually a fairly simple DIY task. Reinforcing a door by adding a reinforcement plate, which beefs up your door jamb, in less than an hour. Window reinforcement comes in two flavors: the kind that makes it more difficult to open a window from the outside, and the kind that makes the glass hardly to break. You’ll want to look into both here. Replacing the glass with tempered glass is a good move; you could ever replace it with Plexiglass (which isn’t actually glass, but looks like it). Heck, you could even get bulletproof windows if you want (though they are not cheap). If you want to get really hardcore, then you could consider installing steel bars over the windows—these are fairly unsightly, though.
Getting people round to install CCTV is pretty simple, but it can also be pretty expensive. It is possible to take a more DIY route, however. And I’m not talking about buying the expensive CCTV equipment and doing all the installation yourself; what I propose is much simpler. You can use a webcam—any old webcam—and a computer you’re willing to leave on all the time to create a makeshift CCTV system.
Use right angle brackets to install a webcam somewhere outside your house. Wireless webcams will make installation easier, but a wired one that you can route to the computer from the outside to the inside may be more reliable. Free software such as Yawcam will give you a camera feed on your computer, and using an external output will let you access that feed from anywhere, as long as you have something that has a web browser. Yawcam actually comes with motion detection features which can send notifications to your phone if something is detected. It may not be as powerful and elaborate as professional CCTV, but it can be effective, and the money you’ll save can be mindblowing.
I’m not saying that you should build a hiding place for yourself—although this is certainly an option; building a DIY panic room isn’t exactly quick and cheap, but it’s definitely possible. I’m speaking here of hiding places for your valuables. Here’s the thing about hiding valuables: 99 percent of the time, you’re going to hide them in places that burglars are going to look anyway. In drawers, under the bed, etc.
It’s time to get a little more creative about where you want to secrete things. There are options like stuffing things in cushions or getting cheap books with carved spaces inside, but these are better for cash than anything. Use your DIY skills to build hidden compartments in various places in your home. Compartments can be place in the floor, or behind bookshelves, or even within the steps of your staircase.
Photo by Todd Quackenbush
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