By Dean MacMorris, ASLA
Vice President, Night Light, Inc. and Member, NextHaus Alliance
If a home is a sanctuary, it can be built for both comfort and security. To that point, a recent study showed that burglaries of residential properties account for 74 percent of all burglary offenses.
Homeowners can incorporate security into their indoor and outdoor spaces as part of their home’s overall resiliency. As part of the NextHaus Alliance, design-build firms and teams like ours at Night Light provide homeowners with effective methods for weaving security measures into the original construction of homes and landscapes to best keep families out of danger, from the conceptual phase through the execution of the smallest details.
A classic security system is only one element of a holistic, multi-layered security strategy that deters break-ins and burglaries. There are other effective ways to ensure the safety and security of your home and family, especially in newly-built homes.
• Gauge your risks.
First determine your family’s risk profile based on factors like home size, net worth, frequency of travel and accessibility of valuable collections, among other considerations. If assessing your family’s risk profile sounds daunting, consider hiring a security consultant who will work with you to assess your needs, from creating a list of everyone who has access to your home to making your social media and online activities more private.
• Include security features in your home’s initial design.
A trusted architect will keep safety in mind as he or she makes plans for your home, with features like safe rooms, receiving closets and thoughtful outdoor lighting, which can eradicate vulnerabilities.
• Blend peace of mind with convenience in home automation.
A house with smart home technologies can be a safe home, thanks to features like networked security cameras with remote-access controls.
• Build for security:
Those in the construction stage of home building implement and reinforce work done in the conceptual stage. Builders keep the site secure and execute plans given to them. (Keep in mind that last-minute add-ons can complicate their work and make it more costly.)
• Combine beauty and security with design and décor.
Decorative features can deter intrusions with elements such as shielded windows, audio and video recording devices (especially in areas where caretakers spend time with children) and automated interior lighting that mimics the schedule of an occupied home if the owners are out of town. An interior designer can also oversee the installation of jewelry or gun safes for optimal security.
• Secure the perimeter.
The boundaries of a property are the first line of defense, where burglars can be deterred by features like fencing or smart gates. Landscaping, too, can be used to bolster security, with plantings that are aesthetically pleasing but that also provide a function, such as allowing homeowners to survey their properties easily.
• Bring vulnerabilities into the light.
Landscape illumination is an important way to protect properties by preventing intruders from finding and using hiding spots. Night Light pays fastidious attention to landscape illumination through well-designed, aesthetic outdoor lighting that eliminates the “black glass effect”, which is the sensation homeowners experience when they look out a window after dark and cannot see anything but their own reflection.
In addition to safety and security, landscape illumination lends beauty and enjoyment to a home’s surroundings. Landscape illumination designers light entries and the ground level of a home with an exceptionally attractive alternative to blinding flood lights. This type of lighting is also convenient: such systems run on a preset digital timeclock, switching on at a set time each evening or in concert with home automation controls.
Installations in and around landscape and hardscape can be tricky if illumination specialists are not involved early in the outdoor portion of the project, so be sure to select a well-integrated team who will eliminate time and budget strains. That is just one benefit to the NextHaus Alliance approach to resilient and beautiful home design and construction, with integration across architecture, construction, outdoor and indoor lighting, window choice, technology, interior design and landscaping.
For more information about Night Light, Inc., a NextHaus Alliance member, visit nightlightinc.net.