While most people would never consider creating a beautiful home without incorporating the appropriate features to deliver a safe and protected living environment, the same commitment to security is not always extended to the outdoor space.
All too often the self-build home focuses only on the structural build and there is a failure to extend the planning to the area outside the house. This relates to the need to incorporate various strategies to discourage unwanted visitors and establish a protective ring of security around the home.
So just as you wouldn’t design a stunning new house without a robust and fit for purpose front door, it is equally important to not leave the external space wide open to potential intruders. There are a number of factors to consider to enhance the security credentials of any self build project.
Opportunist thieves will be dissuaded from attempting to gain access to a property if you make it difficult for them to identify easy access points to your home, and also hinder their chances of a speedy getaway. A strong, secure perimeter fence and gate, featuring strong locks will create a protective boundary which is in line with Police advice to homeowners.
Yet don’t feel you have to transform your home into a fortress. Care needs to be taken to ensure you select the right fence and gate combination. The overall fencing design – including posts and fittings – should be sufficiently sturdy to frustrate any attempts to push it over, remove any panels or parts, kick it through or climb over but, must also be in keeping with the local landscape.
The ‘average’ garden fence is designed to provide attractive demarcation but in reality can easily be compromised. If your total fence height is less than 1.8m, it is likely that it can be scaled and objects passed over it. Where possible, and subject to planning permission, a fence should be 2-2.4m high. If this is not an option, think about adding an anti-climb deterrent such as a spiked topping or trellis which sits on the top of the fence.
Steel vertical rail or mesh type fencing, or a timber fence designed with security in mind, offer the best options dependent on the level of protection required. Fencing systems, which combine the beauty of natural wood with the strength of steel to create an ultra secure, aesthetically pleasing fencing solution, are also growing in popularity.
Always opt for high, framed garden or side passageway gates with a good lock. Check that hinges are galvanised for added rust protection so they can operate freely/be easily adjusted to engage the latch and lock effectively. If you want driveway gates, consider whether it is preferable to close off the view to your property from passers by. As with garden gates, look for a sturdy, fully framed design fixed to substantial posts and integrated with fencing or walls.
Automated gates are not only hugely convenient, they also represent a valuable personal safety feature, allowing access to the property without leaving the protected environment of the car, as well as affording the opportunity to screen visitors before allowing them onto your property. However, always seek out an installer that has undergone the appropriate training to deliver a safe and legally compliant device. Don’t forget that all automated gates should undergo regular six monthly maintenance checks to ensure they continue to operate safely.
Why not invest in some quality motion activated outdoor security lights? These will automatically illuminate an area if movement is detected i.e. a prowling burglar!
Alternatively, let nature lend a helping hand in creating an effective anti-burglar boundary on your side of any fencing and especially around any side access points. Stocking up on ‘defensive’ plants such as berberis, crataegus monogyna (hawthorn) or good old fashioned climbing roses can help create an impenetrable barrier that the majority of burglars won’t want to entertain. However make sure passers-by can see the front of your home by cutting your shrubs and bushes to 1m so burglars can’t work without being seen.
Finally, perhaps consider installing gravel paths and drives to make it difficult for anyone to approach the house without being heard. Similarly lay some gravel near any windows or doors.