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To DIY or Not To DIY: Upgrading Your Home Security

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Over the past few years, we have all been privy to the astounding rise of in popularity of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) techniques across many different mediums and platforms. The principles of DIY lie within an individual’s independence from trusted professionals. DIY works with the basic idea of having people do things for themselves so that they are not obliged to call a professional every instance something, somewhere, goes wrong. This revolutionary idea (because apparently, people don’t do things for themselves anymore) has pervaded many industries and continues to disrupt many business models. It irrevocably does away with the middleman and puts the product right in front of the customer. From there it is up to the customer to complete the required labor.

The ever increasing popularity of DIY is best witnessed within the home sector. Many homeowners are opting to upgrade aspects of their home themselves, so they do not have to worry about the additional costs that come with hiring a professional. From paint jobs, to garage door upgrades, to adding decks and porches, homeowners are flexing their new found creativity and making the most out of it.

However, the advent of DIY techniques has raised several questions, from both DIY practitioners and professionals from varying fields. Is it really more cost effective to handle projects, that professionals have been trained to do, by yourself? Not every security upgrade is effective, so how do you know what to do? Questions have also been raised about the safety issues that are somewhat rampant and synonymous with DIY undertakings. There is a reason why professionals exist, right? They have been trained to properly assess situations and deliver the best and safest solutions, but what if doing it yourself poses no risk at all and is, in fact, the cheapest route to go?

So when it comes to home security, the question remains, to DIY or not to DIY? Well, we are here to help you find out. I believe it is a decision that only a homeowner can make, but one that they should make once they have seen all the cards on the table and know just what they are going in for.

Assessing Your Home Security

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Even before you can decide what improvements you want to make to your home, you should be able to tell which upgrades it needs. The first step in upgrading the security of your home is to take a tour of your property and see what is lacking. Take inventory of what you might need to get fixed or upgraded. Here are some important things you need to pay close attention to with regards your home’s exterior, garage and separate additions, and the interior.

Exterior

  1. How visible is your home from the street? Is it easy for people passing by to see what goes on in your home? Are there numerous hiding places outside (shrubbery, bushes etc.)?
  2. How is the lighting on the outside of your house? Will you be able to see an intruder coming from afar?
  3. If you have a fence or a gate, what kind is it? Your type of perimeter defense determines a gate’s security. Having a fence that is perforated is a much better option because even though it keeps people out it might come in handy if someone is lurking in your yard and a neighbor spots them. Make sure to remember that gates and fences that wall you off from everyone else are to your detriment. If a burglar is able to get past your walls, no one from the outside will be able to see them.

Garage

  1. Are the doors and windows of your garage always visible? Make sure that you can clearly see the access points to it at night.
  2. Are the overhead doors to your garage secure enough? If you have sliding doors are they also secure?

Interior

  1. Do not put blind faith in an alarm system (DIY or not). Make sure that the other parts of your interior are working well with the security system that you have in place.
  2. Make sure that your windows and doors have secure locks that are functioning properly.
  3. Pay attention to if any of these locks need maintenance, or if they need to be changed.

While you are on this maintenance tour of your home, make sure to be on the lookout for any additions that will come in handy later on. This could be in the form of additional exterior lighting (motion sensors always come in handy) or basic additions that will make your door more secure. One thing to be mindful of is the fact that security alarm systems are not meant to be the sole guards of your property. They can at times be the first line of defense, but it is important that everything else in your house is primed to help withstand burglary and theft.

Once you have ascertained what needs to be upgraded, and seen which areas you need to pay attention to, then it is time to move on to the next step. This next step involves finding out which upgrades will work best for your home. Since you have already identified what needs to be upgraded you have to find the right fit for the job. This could be done by either you or a professional, but regardless of who is getting the job done, make sure that you are adding installations that keep your home adequately secured instead of adding more weaknesses.

This could be handled with the addition of more lights to the exterior or interior, as well as reinforcing the locks of doors (adding a deadbolt or customizing the locking mechanism itself). Whatever the case may be, ensure that you are making the appropriate improvements.

Should You Go the ‘DIY’ Home Security Route?

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“To be or not to be? That is the question,” Hamlet, anyone? There is an undeniable pride and joy people get every day when they look at something they made or built, and that feeling is further compounded when they see that someone else is also benefiting from the fruits of their labor. Being of usefulness to someone imbues us with feelings of belonging and accomplishment that are rivaled by little else.

However, is experiencing a pleasant feeling reason enough to undertake such an important project yourself? Maybe. Maybe not. When it comes to home security, the end goal should not be the personal satisfaction you feel when looking at your work. It should be that feeling of safety that you and your family are constantly shrouded by.

When it comes to do-it-yourself home security improvements, there are many things that you can do that are extremely cost effective, and will most likely not pose any harm to you or your family in the process. Do keep in mind that there are some DIY solutions that are extremely hard to do, and some that do run into certain safety risks, so make sure you know the level of your handyman capabilities.

Work Within Your Own Budget

In upgrading your personal security the DIY way, you are able to personally oversee everything that is going on. You can work within your own budget and time schedules. It also gives you the unique opportunity to learn more about your home and the processes that go into making it more secure. There is the added bonus of the cost effectiveness of carrying out your own improvements, although this depends on the scale of the project. The reason why it is generally cheaper is because there is no added service cost, and you only need to pay for the materials and invest your time into completing the project at hand.

Learning Opportunity

One of the biggest hurdles of completing a DIY project is the amount of time that goes into said project. Homeowners need to learn everything they can about it and make sure that they are carrying out the tasks to the best of their abilities. It does make them passable experts by the time they are done because they have invested so much time in learning every nook and cranny of their homes, and found out how to best install the needed security additions.

No Strangers In Your Home

The implementation of a DIY security project also negates the issue of inviting strangers into your home. Many homeowners are wary of letting people they don’t know into their homes, and they have every right to be. It makes it an, even more, muddled issue when you are letting someone you don’t know (no matter how reputable the company they work for) come into your home and assess and upgrade your home security. This situation gives an outsider a knowledge of your home and it’s security system, something that homeowners would prefer to be kept at a minimum. In the event that homeowners carry out their upgrades themselves, they are the only ones privy to the upgrades they included and thus keeping the probability of someone bypassing them rather low.

Additional DIY Home Security Tips

Not every homeowner protects their home with the addition of a security system. For some, it is more cost effective to handle this in unconventional ways. This can be done by upgrading bits and pieces of what is already in place to ensure that the home is secure all around. It will help to reinforce windows and doors (both traditional and sliding glass doors), to upgrade the locking mechanisms on the doors to make them more pick resistant and bump resistant. There are several other methods that can be employed to trick or deter burglars, thus upgrading your security. For instance:

  • Trimming your shrubbery and bushes so you have a clear line of sight to see anyone coming from meters away.
  • Invest in really good curtains or tint your windows, that way people cannot see what you own in your home. You don’t want to give any burglars funny ideas.
  • If you do not want to invest in a home security system (even though it is well worth it) you can outsmart some burglars by purchasing security decal. Burglars are scared of alarm systems and if they are under the impression that one is in place, they are less likely to try and rob you.

Should You Use A Professional For Home Security Installation?

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A good comparison or debate is never any fun if one side has an overwhelming advantage over the other. At that point, it’s no longer a debate but a beat down in the form of a lecture that no one really wants to hear, apart from the winning side. Today, however, we avoided that awkward situation because the opposing side to DIY came prepared.

Many professionals are divided over the continuous expansion of DIY practices into various industries. Some security companies have diversified their product lines to include plug and play do-it-yourself security systems, which make it easy for homeowners to buy and set up themselves. Most of these come without contracts and additional prices, so you can imagine how excited homeowners were about that. On the other side of the spectrum, security professionals are trying to make homeowners aware of the dangers that can arise from undertaking your own home security improvements.

Professional Knowledge And Experience

The reason why professionals are called professionals is because they have experience at what they do, as well as a wealth of knowledge to draw upon in case something doesn’t go according to plan. One of the main dangers of bypassing the expertise of home security professionals is that most homeowners do not have the experience or foresight into the activities and burglars like these guys do. For professionals, the installation of security protocol is far more than just stringing up some wires and pressing a few buttons. It’s also about knowing how burglars think and what they hope to achieve. This helps them pick the best location to position the sensors and components of your alarm system. They are also more aware of the intricacies of many of the systems and know how to place each of the components strategically so that they work to their maximum potential.

Additional Layer Of Security

Many of these professionals fear that homeowners may be putting their safety and that of their families at risk with due to the increase in demand for DIY systems. There is also the concern that arises from the solo mission that DIY becomes. Many of the traditional alarm systems that have been in place over the past few years come with the bonus of an extra eye. Security companies enter contracts with homeowners that allows them to be able to monitor their property 24/7, in the case of anything suspicious that may be going on.

These are known as monitored security systems. This gives homeowners the added benefit of having someone else be able to notify the police in case something is going wrong and they cannot do so themselves, or if they are not home at all. With DIY systems, the weight of that burden is left entirely on the homeowner’s shoulders, and this reduces the chances of the police being notified in a situation where the homeowner has very few options.

Regulated Maintenance Checks And Upgrades

The maintenance of the security system also becomes the sole responsibility of the homeowner and this eventually presents many challenges. Most providers of traditional security systems, include maintenance checks and upgrades in their packages. It is part of their job to occasionally inspect the alarm equipment and upgrade it as necessary. While they do this, they also lend a helping hand in assessing your home’s security once again and suggest any necessary upgrades.

For homeowners that opt to go the DIY route, all the maintenance, and necessary upgrades will have to be performed in-house. Most people will think this is not a big deal, however, it isn’t until it’s too late that you begin to realize that your home security system may need upgrades. Unless you happen to run regular safety drills in your home, you won’t have any true way of testing the effectiveness of your security system until it is far too late and the burglars are already in your home or out of it with half of your stuff.

Professionals Help Reduce Risk

When it comes to security upgrades that do not involve the addition of a security alarm, homeowners still need to be vigilant and wary about when, and how, they decide to handle upgrades. These upgrades could either be done in-house or outsourced to trusted professionals. Some upgrades can be undertaken by homeowners without any serious risk to their safety. The only thing that they are putting at risk is the use of their time. However, in some instances, it is best to call for a professional to prevent any accidents from happening.

The necessity for a professional could arise when the scale of the project is much bigger or when they just have better insight into it. For instance, if you are changing the material of a door (or replacing your locks) and need to take the entire door off its hinges, or maybe you are installing a new garage door opener/upgrading its security. Due to the fact that a door like that has so much pressure resting on its springs, it is an accident waiting to happen if not handled properly. There are many other situations like this that could arise, and this is why professionals feel they need to play a role in the installation and upgrading of home security.

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure that you properly assess the current state of your home security before you begin to make any changes to it.
  • Find out which specific upgrades are best suited to the type of home that you have and the lifestyle that you lead. Keep in mind that not every home security device (DIY or not) will benefit you.
  • Before you begin any DIY project, make sure that you are adequately prepared and that you have the necessary skill set to safely complete the task at hand. You should not compromise your safety simply because you want to save money. Your safety should always be your priority.
  • If you are uncertain about how to tackle a DIY project, even after you have done the required research, you should contact a professional who is certified in handling whatever project it may be. This will save you money in the long run since it will negate the possibility of anyone getting hurt or your equipment being damaged.
  • Even after you have made any DIY security upgrades, it is always a good idea to have professionals take another look at it to ensure that everything has been properly and safely installed.
  • Keep in mind that most DIY security systems do not offer 3rd party monitoring. If this is something that you would like to take advantage of because of your lifestyle or schedule then you should most likely contact a professional team to handle your security upgrades.

Conclusion

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There are obviously pros and cons spread across both sides of the argument. However, the commonality between these two parties is that they each want to make sure the home is kept as safe as it can be. For homeowners, the lucrative idea of not being overcharged for something that they can try and do themselves, is what is alluring to them. On the other hand, security professionals fear that this is a gateway to greater danger. From my perspective, I can sympathize with both of the affected parties, and I feel like the line in the sand needs to be drawn at the point where cost effectiveness is borderline dangerous to the homeowner. There is also the question of whether or not the experience a homeowner possesses is sufficient for the job they want to undertake. It comes down to homeowners being completely honest with themselves and knowing when not to compromise safety for cost effectiveness and the pride that comes with saying “I did this myself”.

This is not to say that some projects cannot be done without a professional present, but individuals need to be cognisant of when the scale of a project crosses the threshold of DIY into the realm of “go hire a professional”. Let us know what you think! Do you think DIY projects will gradually push professionals out of their businesses, or will there always be the safety risk that prompts the need for a certified professional to maintain your security?

Category: How To's, Residential, Safety & Security


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