How to Evaluate Home Security Needs

by Jon Nunan

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Whether you have a full blown security system or a simple lock on your doors and windows, just about every home can benefit from a home security inspection. Is your house as safe as it could be? Are there a few simple projects that could greatly decrease the likelihood of a break-in? A home security inspection can answer these questions and give you the peace of mind that comes from having a safe, secure home both when you're inside and when you're away, too!

Home Security Inspections: What to Expect
Home security inspections are generally quick and inexpensive, but the results of such inspections are likely to improve your property for years to come. A good home security inspection will look at your property as a whole and identify any problematic areas where your home is either unprotected or under-protected. Your windows and doors will, of course, fall under some of the heaviest scrutiny, as these are highly visible entryways for would-be burglars, but these aren't the only areas that will be focused on. Your garage, landscaping, trees, lighting, and even the numbers on your house will all be examined. Often, it is these areas that present problems and need to be altered.

Secure Homes, Not Impregnable Fortresses
While home security inspections are most likely going to suggest a few improvements to your existing property, they are not meant to make your home into Fort Knox! In fact, you may be surprised at how secure your home can be with only a few unobtrusive alterations. Of course, if you want your home to be a fortress, you can certainly find a security company to fulfill your wishes. However, as most of us are rather fond of our homes' current condition, a home security inspection is likely to point out a few small characteristics of your property that could be slightly changed to make your home a safer place to be and a less attractive target for intruders.

Who Performs Home Security Inspections
The person who performs your home security inspection is important. A home security company that offers "free" inspections might do a very thorough job, but as they may have an interest in drumming up more business for themselves, the conclusions their inspections lead to may be a bit self-serving.

In some areas, the local police department offers free home security inspections. This is a far better option, as your police department's only agenda is making your home safer and preventing crime. Not only will they objectively examine your home for security needs, they will also have information available on the types of crimes that are prevalent in your neighborhood, and give you suggestions according to those trends. Even if your police department doesn't advertise free inspections, you may be able to get one for free (or for a nominal fee) simply by requesting it.

You may also be able to get a home security inspection from an independent third party. There will be a fee associated with going this route, but you will get a very thorough inspection with a clear list of items that could or should be improved without the worry of the results focusing more on what can be sold to you than what you can do better.

DIY Home Security Inspections
While you can find checklists for homeowners to perform their own home security inspections, there's really no substitute for a professional eye. Checking your door and window locks and trimming back your hedges away from the house are both good starts, but because few homeowners know all the tricks of the trade (and looking at your own home objectively is extremely difficult, anyway), it really is a good idea to call in a pro for this job. As long as you are sure that the motives of your inspector are not to sell you equipment you don't need or charge you for improvements that aren't necessary, a professional home security inspection is a far more effective tool than any inspection you can do yourself. Remember, you don't have to make all of the suggested alterations immediately! By examining your results and performing what you can afford, you'll be making your home safer one step at a time and staying within your budget, too.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.