Do you intend to build your ‘Grand Design’ home yourself? Or are you looking to add a beautiful extension to your existing home? Or are you purchasing a newly constructed home from a builder who is currently working on it? If you answered yes, then our self build home security guide will help you understand your project’s security implications.
In this article, we will cover the following topics in detail.
- Planning and implementing security measures for your project while it is still in progress.
- Consider installing security systems such as burglar alarms, CCTV, smart doorbells, floodlights, and home automation in your new home.
- The initial phase or early fixtures for your new home’s security solutions.
- The final stage of your chosen security solutions’ security installation.
- Consider how you will maintain and service your security solution.
We typically speak with self builders who either did not plan for home security while building their home or taking security advice from inexperienced people and wasted their time and money on outdated technology. This blog will provide you with professional advice on how to plan home security for your self build home.
When is the ideal time to plan security for your self build home?
We have frequently observed that most self builders plan the security installations at the end of the project. This results in exposed cables and limits the products’ and installers’ flexibility.
Home security and home automation planning should ideally begin at the beginning, i.e. during your project’s design stage. Consider your plumbing and electrical requirements, for example. This is the time to consult with your family and decide on your home’s security needs.
At this point, a professional security consultant can take the time to understand your project’s security challenges and risks and advise you on the various options available to you. You’d also be in a better position to budget and schedule different stages of installation.
We have security consultants at FHA Security who regularly work with architects, builders, and self build enthusiasts. We provide a free security consultation call to understand your project and answer any questions you may have. Our typical first call can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, after which we will send you a few solutions to meet your needs. We can also assist you in planning the various stages of your security project. This will give you a good idea of better planning, scheduling, and budgeting for your project.
Step-by-Step Home Security Planning
Step 1: Understand your Requirements
At this stage, always begin by analysing the security risks associated with your property. Consider all security aspects, i.e. before, during, and after building construction.
Key questions to consider when planning your home security:
- What security measures should you implement to protect your home?
- How frequently will your home be vacant?
- Do you want to keep an eye on the house’s exterior?
- Do any outbuildings, garages, or gates require protection?
- Are you prepared to enjoy all the benefits of smart living and home automation?
- Do you need a fully integrated solution?
- To what extent should your system be adaptable? Do you plan on upgrading your system in the future?
- How many authorised users will be present in your security system?
- Would you allow cleaners or gardeners access while you are away?
- Do you have any pets, or do you intend to get any?
- Do you want to expand your home or construct any outbuildings in the future?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be in a better position to choose the best security solution for your self build homes. It is always preferable to have a clear idea of your requirements rather than simply purchasing what is suggested to you.
Step 2: Analyse the trends and technology
It is always a good idea to stay up to date on the latest security market trends. It will provide you with the most accurate picture of the available solutions to meet your needs, such as burglar alarms, CCTV, and so on. You will then determine which of them meets your needs or can be installed once your home is ready for occupancy.
Getting professional advice at this point will save you a significant amount of time and money. A professional expert can survey your property remotely or on-site and assist you in effectively planning your project.
Tip: To avoid being sold on a single product, always speak with professional security companies that offer multiple product lines and work with various manufacturers. At this point, you should keep an open mind about products and concentrate on finding the best solutions for your home.
This will give you an idea of what kinds of solutions you’ll need, such as burglar alarms, CCTV systems, video doorbells, external floodlights, lockable windows and doors, and home automation systems. Once you’ve decided, you can begin selecting products, making rough estimates, and planning for the first fix. This includes planning for cabling; you can determine the best location to instal security units such as a control panel, keypad, camera sensors, and so on.
Another critical decision you will have to make is whether to go with a wired or wireless system. A wired system would entail fitting and wiring, which would require planning.
Tip: We recommend wireless burglar alarms as well as a wired CCTV system. Wireless alarm control panels may still require a power source and connections to broadband and landline modules.
Step 3: Identify and choose a location for your security system within your home
Choose a central location for your security hub. Consider the following devices and their connectivity ending at that point.
- Your modem/router
- A working telephone (if you still use a landline)
- A burglar alarm control panel (prepare a power supply)
- A CCTV recorder (power supply and camera cables)
- A home automation hub
- A home network hub/ switch
You should consult with your architect and builder to determine the location of your home’s central hub. To get the best wireless signal strength, keep them away from windows and doors and in the centre of the house.
Step 4: Consult your Insurance Company
It is also worthwhile to consult with an insurance company during the planning stage. In general, insurance companies have specific requirements when it comes to installing a security system. Most, if not all, insurance companies advise you to instal a British Standard graded alarm system installed by an NSI or SSAIB certified installer. Again, depending on their company policy, property location, historical insurance claims, and risk score, some insist on this.
Home Security on the Construction Site
Security on your construction site is also critical. Most of us intend to protect our homes once they are ready to be moved. We, on the other hand, fail to protect the construction site while it is in use.
The following are some key questions to ask yourself about your construction site:
- Who is in charge of the site’s security?
- Does your insurance cover theft and damage while the project is being built? Make sure you notify your insurance company about the house renovations.
- Is the property going to be empty at night and on weekends?
- Are the sites and valuables secured every night?
- What kinds of valuables are typically left unattended on the job site while the project is underway?
- Who should be notified if a break-in occurs on the property?
Intruders target construction sites searching for scrap metal, pipe fittings, toilet fittings, or anything else worth selling. It could also be one of the new deliveries you’ve ordered for your residence.
People believe that burglars are more interested in cash, jewellery, and other valuable items. Most of us probably don’t bother protecting the construction site because we think there’s nothing valuable burglars can steal. And this is where the majority of us go astray. A 2016 research study of 1,100 construction industry professionals survey found that 92% reported theft on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. According to Allianz Cornhill, it cost £800 million last year alone.
Here are some preventive measures that one should take on their construction site.
- Request that your building contractor or project manager keep an eye out for new people wandering around your property.
- Consider installing a temporary alarm system that activates every night and alerts you via a GSM sim card inside the alarm.
- If it is a high-value property, consider installing a CCTV system to monitor your site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Request that your project manager or the builder lock up all tools and equipment or take them home at the end of the day if possible.
- Keep track of all deliveries to your site at all times.
Home Security Solutions – Your options
We now have advanced security solutions that meet our needs thanks to changing technology and automation integration.
Let’s look at some of the most popular security solutions.
1) Burglar alarm
Burglar alarms undoubtedly are one of the best burglar deterrents. Loud siren alerts not only the homeowner but the entire neighbourhood. Its remote monitoring feature allows you or a third party to monitor your home and take immediate action whenever an alarm is triggered.
With changing needs and technology, burglar alarm has evolved into a complete security solution with a host of capabilities that allow you to manage, monitor and control your home security.
Read our blog on burglar alarm systems and learn more about the critical features to consider in your alarm system.
There is a wide range of camera solutions for internal and external use available for residential homes.
Some important considerations to bear in mind.
- Where will the camera be placed?
- What level of recording and access are you looking for?
- Do you want the camera to pan and tilt?
Choose a plug-and-play camera with a smart app for indoors and, if possible, two-way audio with pan and tilt capabilities.
We would recommend a professionally installed and fully customised CCTV solution for the outdoors, such as FHA ones.
Remember that CCTV that does not provide local recording and relies on your broadband connection is not as reliable as CCTV with local hard-drive recording.
A professionally installed CCTV system is a one-time cost solution that will rarely require additional maintenance and will provide complete protection.
3) Smart Doorbells
A smart doorbell is a relatively new product on the market that is a useful smart device. The following are some of the critical features of a smart doorbell.
- Motion-triggered notification
- Push notification through a smartphone app
- Optional built-in cameras can send live video notifications and support 2-way video communications.
There are numerous smart doorbell devices on the market, some of which are from unknown brands and costs from as little as £20. But, among all of them, the Ring doorbell stands out as one of the best. If you want to watch historical videos, these devices have a variety of subscription options.
Tip: All smart doorbells make use of your home broadband as well as your smartphone. You should only connect trusted smart devices to your broadband, and you should only install secure apps on your phone. The reason for this is that there are security risks associated with hacking. In fact, there have been reports of security breaches where ring products were hacked.
4) Flood Lights with motion sensors
Floodlights are high-intensity lights that are used to illuminate your property’s perimeter. Because of their startling effect, motion sensor flood lights are best used to deter burglars. These floodlights are activated by any movement around them, making them ideal for protecting property from intruders.
5) Deadbolt doors and lockable windows
Several surveys and studies have revealed that burglars frequently use doors and windows to gain entry into a property. That means you must use high-quality, difficult-to-break locks on all of your doors and windows.
Using a deadbolt door is an excellent way to secure your doors. Its locking mechanism provides excellent protection against forced entry. Standard locks are easily broken by burglars using weapons such as knives or crowbars; however, deadbolt locks are difficult to break. Burglars would have to work harder to get past them, providing good security.
Securing windows, on the other hand, is another way to ensure complete security. Windows typically have a standard lock; however, additional locks can improve the security of your windows. There are various types of locks available on the market that are appropriate for various types of windows.
To select the best locks for your home, consult with a professional. It is an excellent way to add an additional layer of security to the security system.
With so many options to choose from, it may be challenging to select one that meets our needs.
Read our blog to learn about some popular security systems and which one is best for your needs.
Latest Trends in Home Security
- In the last 15 years, wired alarms’ market share in the residential market has fallen from around 90% to less than 5%. In some cases, wired alarms are only used to replace older wired alarms. The majority of leading burglar alarm manufacturers have either discontinued or relegated their wired alarm range.
- Smartphone penetration in the UK market increased from 76% in 2005 to a consistent 95% in recent years, with the impact visible in the burglar alarm market. At FHA Security, we’ve seen interest in smart alarms rise from 34% in 2014 to 78% in 2020, and we expect the trend to continue.
- CCTV remains the second-best defence against burglaries, mainly vandalism and vehicle theft. For complete protection, we still recommend fully wired CCTV that covers all entry points into the house.
- Video doorbells did not exist until entrepreneur Jamie Siminoff invented the well-known Ring video doorbell in 2013. They are currently expected to grow at 48%, making them the fastest-growing product category in the security industry.
- Another popular security range to consider is home automation. Home automation products that use z-wave wireless technology have been available for some time. FHA’s latest home automation series integrates smart burglar alarms with the full range of home automation suites, smart locks, smart video doorbells, and various smart internal and external cameras with unprecedented data and analytics. Its integration with alarm.com’s sophisticated cloud services truly transforms it into an effective all-in-one home management solution. It is a system that adapts to your changing needs, and you can control it with voice-activated devices such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Voice Assistant, your smartwatch, and many others.
Home Security Installation Stages
After you’ve had your initial security consultation with us and determined which solutions you want to instal, it’s time to plan and schedule the installation.
Most security solutions still entail the use of a power supply or wired connections. Suppose your construction project includes the rendering of walls. In that case, it is best to finish the first fix of laying cables before beginning the rendering work – similar to how the plumbing and electrical wires are laid.
Discuss with your FHA Security consultant and builders how to identify and configure the necessary cables. Some cabling is simple enough that it can be laid by your electrician or builders. Alternatively, our expert engineers can perform the initial cabling installation for you.
Please keep in mind that you will be required to select and lay the appropriate cables based on the type of system you will be installing later.
1) The first fix cabling for a burglar alarm.
Choose the system (make and model) that you want to install in your home. All alarm systems require some form of power supply and connection to some of your home’s services. Some alarms have a separate control panel and keypads, whereas others have integrated keypads.
A power supply is required for an alarm control panel. If you have a dedicated breaker in your electric fuse box, you can hardwire it. A dedicated fuse spur for the panel’s power supply is part of the alarm’s first fix.
If you have a smart alarm, consider running concealed cat-6 cabling between your control panel and your broadband connection. This works well if you need a hardwired network connection between the control panel and your broadband router or if you want to keep your alarm control panel separate from your router. Consider running telephone cables between the control panel and the master telephone socket if your alarm is linked to a landline to call you.
You should probably do these wirings in the early stages of construction. It would be ideal if the cables were concealed before the plastering and decorating. So, try to complete the wiring before moving on to the electrical and plumbing work.
2) Concealed wiring for CCTV
All CCTVs capable of continuous recording and storage are hardwired. They may have a separate power supply cable and data cable or use a single cable for both power supply and connection to the house’s CCTV recorder. With all of the cabling involved, it is always advisable to lay CCTV cabling as a first fix.
Key things to consider before fitting your CCTV
a) The number of cameras required: We recommend a minimum of one camera per external wall. A mid-terraced house would need at least two cameras, an end-of-terraced or semi-detached house would require three, and a detached house would require four.
Tip: If there are any unusual extensions or protruding walls that prevent cameras from fully covering the property, consider installing additional cameras on the same wall.
b) Recorder location: There are two recommended locations for a CCTV DVR or NVR.
Option 1: Place your broadband router right next to it and connect to it directly via a smartphone or tablet for remote access.
Option 2: A secret location, such as a loft. You’d need a power supply and, ideally, a network cable running from the attic to the broadband router. Alternatively, you will have the same electric circuit shared between these points, so you can send data to the router using electric cabling.
c) You’d need cables running from each camera location to the recorder’s location inside the house.
d) Select either a CAT 6 cable or a coaxial cable. We recommend using a CAT 6 networking cable.
e) Leave at least 1 metre of cable outside for extra flexibility during the final fix.
3) Internal network cabling
You should also consider whether you will have additional networking points inside the house to connect any devices that require hardwired internet connections. Computers, printers, smart lighting hubs, smart thermostats, and other similar devices are common examples.
With the availability of wi-fi range extenders and wireless devices, the need for internal cat 6 cabling is diminishing unless you have specific reasons for installing it. Otherwise, they’d be like the extra phone lines that everyone installed for their landlines before high-quality cordless telephones rendered them obsolete.
4) Telephone line
Nowadays, most people only use mobile phones, and if you have a landline, it is usually a cordless landline phone with a base that connects to the master telephone point. According to a recent Ofcom survey, only 4% of the UK population currently uses a landline, and traditional landlines will be phased out by 2025.
The majority of us use landline connections to connect systems such as burglar alarms, panic alarms, and broadband routers. Consider installing additional phone points only if they are necessary. For these systems, GSM/LTE-enabled sim cards are an option. It will, however, incur additional sim card charges.
5) Internet connectivity
The location of your broadband router is critical for ensuring reliable wireless connectivity throughout your home. Consider the following factors when deciding where to put the router.
a) Which devices should connect physically to the router. Consider computers, alarm control panels, smart TVs, sound systems, printers, smart lighting hubs, smart thermostats, and other home automation controllers.
Tip: Most routers only have 2 to 4 ports for connecting devices. If you require more ports, consider installing a hub or switch next to your router.
b) The distance and strength of the signal in and outside the house. With more and more devices connected to the internet, you’ll want to ensure that you have a strong wireless signal in and around your home, garden, and outbuildings.
Tip: Check for wireless signal strength outside the property, next to external walls and in and out of any outbuildings such as sheds and garages. Make sure to test signal strength at ceiling heights.
c) Please keep in mind that walls reduce wifi power and the ability to establish and maintain reliable wi-fi connections everywhere.
d) Wi-fi Extenders – You can avoid using extenders and repeaters if you plan ahead of time to locate the internet router and purchase a high-quality wi-fi router.
6) Doorbell cabling
If you want to have a smart doorbell, it’s worth considering installing the cable, so you don’t have to worry about recharging its battery. Please keep in mind that most smart doorbells require a transformer to convert the AC power supply to DC, usually between the power supply and the bell. And if you don’t get this right, you might damage your doorbell. Therefore, ensure that the transformers you intend to buy are compatible with the doorbell you plan to buy.
7) Home automation cabling
If you intend to install home automation devices, decide which components will require wiring. You’d want extensive wiring done in the same way electrical wiring is done. And you’d like it done by professional installation companies.
TIP: Consider creating a separate zone for your home’s central station. Build a dedicated cabinet for all of your controllers if possible.
After all other work on the property has been completed, the final fix or completion of installation stages will begin. This includes painting, decorating, and arranging furniture in the rooms.
If you neglected to plan your security requirements at the outset, this is where we would begin.
The various stages of the final fix are as follows.
1) Connect your landline and broadband in advance.
Consider getting your broadband connections up and running a few weeks ahead of time. Broadband connections are notoriously slow, and installation lead times can range from weeks to months in some cases. There are also last-minute cancellations and delays to consider. Because most of your security installations will require communication connectivity, we recommend installing your communication network a few weeks in advance.
Tip: If you are moving your existing broadband package from your old address, you may get downtime of a few hours to a few days before it starts working in your new home. Speak with your provider to see if they can activate your new property’s connection without disrupting the existing connection. Alternatively, before terminating your current connection, consider signing a new contract for your new home. However, you might lose your old phone number and hopefully stop getting those nuisance calls that used to come on your old number.
2) Complete security installations
This is when our engineers return to complete the final installations.
a) Burglar Alarm:
At this point, the control panel and all other internal and external devices will be installed, configured, and enabled for you. This includes installing apps on your phones and tablets and training you on how to use the system.
Assume you neglected to plan your home security. In that case, a wireless burglar alarm is a better solution because it causes the least amount of disruption.
Burglar alarm Tips
- Always choose a wireless alarm over a wired alarm. Wireless alarms are more advanced, secure, and easy to install. Whereas, wired alarms would take longer to install and are more expensive to maintain. Burglars can easily tamper with wired systems by cutting out the wire. As the technology evolves, it will be difficult to upgrade a wired system later because it has limited upgrade options.
- Use alarms that use cutting-edge and future-proof smart technology. A smart system would enhance your home security by allowing you to manage and control it remotely. You can also integrate your smart alarm with your other smart devices. Wireless alarms are portable and easier to move from one location to another. The best part is that you can even automate the response by connecting all of these devices. Like you can link your smart doorbell to your alarm system. So, whenever someone knocks on your door, you’ll receive a notification on your app. And you can instantly respond from your app no matter where you are.
- Ensure that you have a stable internet connection to use your wireless alarm. This means that you’d need to set up your Wi-Fi connection ahead of time to get good coverage within your home.
- If you have multiple smart devices in your home, we recommend going with an integrated solution that connects all your smart devices in one place. It is preferable to manage all of these devices on a single platform rather than juggling with multiple apps. A comprehensive solution allows you to manage everything from a single app and automate the majority of the tasks.
- When purchasing a new alarm system, ensure that you have complete ownership of the system. Some companies provide security systems on a lease, which means you do not own the alarm system.
Once you’ve set up all of the cameras and recorders, as well as the complete networking and remote access setup, your CCTV installation will be done. At this point, the installer will connect your smartphone app to the CCTV system.
CCTV selection tips:
- Shape of the CCTV camera: Bullet, dome, and eyeball (turret) cameras are standard options. However, we always recommend using an eyeball camera.
- Colour of CCTV camera: The camera’s default colour is white (off-white). Some models are available in black, brown, or grey. They may be slightly more expensive and in short supply. So, if you need a specific colour, please request it ahead of time.
- CCTV Camera Resolution: While there are enough jargons to confuse you about CCTV systems, our best advice is to focus on camera output quality. We recommend 5MP cameras for now, with the option of upgrading to 8MP cameras later. Because 1 MB is considered high definition, 5MP is superior to 4K output. In comparison, the camera output quality in 2012 was around 600 to 700 TVL. So the output has improved about 8 times since then. The higher resolution enables you to zoom in further and see video output in your smart app more clearly.
- Recorder Capacity: We would not recommend storing footage on your local recorder for more than four weeks.
- Cabling: For CCTV installations, use CAT 6 cabling whenever possible.
Home security is essential, but planning it at the right time is even more critical. People frequently place a greater emphasis on the design and interiors of their ideal home. However, home security planning is frequently overlooked.
This guide will teach you how to plan security for your newly self build home in detail. It provides you with a detailed plan on your security requirements at each stage, assisting you in constructing a fully secured self build home for you and your family.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your security needs in greater detail, please contact us, and one of our experts will contact you shortly.