A Building Concern: Risk of Theft during a Home Remodel
For homeowners or real estate investors that are planning to remodel a home, or are already involved in a remodeling project, it can sometimes be overwhelming. You get the excitement of creating something new, along with the stresses of making changes to the design and structure within the home that so often create lapses in home security. During a remodel, a home is often left wide open and vulnerable to theft that can’t be prevented by even the best home alarm system.
Before you get too alarmed at the possibility of burglary or theft; educate yourself of the possible risks and measures that can be taken to cut down on those risks. Below are some of the common and not so common security risks and possible solutions for them.
Security Management Magazine estimates that 3.3 percent of homes under construction will suffer a break in or theft. This means that roughly 1 in every 33 homes a contractor is working on will get burglarized or suffer some level of theft. The cost of this theft has an average cost of 1.5%-2% of the total remodel, according to estimates from the National Association of Homebuilders.
Things that are often stolen include items that you always consider as targets for thieves. Things like: jewelry, money, building materials and tools. But it’s becoming more and more common for burglars to go after things that homeowners may not always consider as something that may be stolen. Many of the items below are starting to show up in burglary reports.
•Copper wiring and pipes. The rise in copper prices and the ease of recycling it for good money make it desirable for thieves.
•Brass fixtures and plumbing fittings for the same reason as the copper.
•Vintage or historical fixtures and building materials
•High tech home electronics.
•Sensitive paperwork and personal info, credit card information, social security numbers and anything that may be used to commit fraud or identity theft.
•Even just the use of personal items, like the use of your computer for illicit activities, or people eating your food, napping in your bed, etc. can be considered theft or at least upsetting to homeowners.
•Appliances. These are expensive and can be an easy target when left around the jobsite for days at a time before being installed.
•Firearms. Always a target for burglars.
•Diesel Fuel. Increasing fuel prices mean that gas and diesel fuel are now targets for thieves.
Temporary access to the main dwelling can be an attractive opportunity for burglars. Things like missing doors or windows and wall openings being secured with nothing but a tarp should be considered major security issues.
Internal theft is also a big concern. With contractors coming and going along with different crews at different times working on the house there are often workers you don’t know walking in and out of the house. That type of anonymity can easily allow a burglar to gain access to the house without much risk of being noticed.
Just because you are paying them doesn’t mean they won’t steal from you or other workers on the job. Your personal belongings can be a target as well as expensive building materials they can use on other jobs to cut their costs and increase profits. This is a very common issue, more than you might think.
Security isn’t just about protecting against theft. Kids need to be protected as well, some of the dangers they may face include: exposure to asbestos, harmful chemicals like solvents, glues, varnishes and lead paint as well as dangerous building materials and tools, nails, saws, razor blades, etc. Another concern for the kids is being around strangers that are working in the home.
•Keep the exterior well light at night. This is very important especially if there are temporary access points to the house. Lights are a big deterrent to burglars as are fences and warning signs.
•Keep the area around the house clean and free of building materials and tools. These things can be an easy and profitable grab for burglars. Selling stolen tools is easy and fast, which provides a big lure to thieves. Make sure that workers are properly storing their own tools so that all the responsibility for any loss is on them and not the homeowner.
•Do your homework and hire trustworthy contractors, monitor the use of materials and get quotes in writing.
•Store your valuables in a secure place, like a safe or behind locked doors in rooms that aren’t part of the remodel. You may get a safe or take valuable off site during the project, like to a family members house or in a safe deposit box, secure storage facility.
•Talk with the contractors. Learn what their policy and practices are when it comes to tools and building materials. Do they lock things up, keep trailers on-site, etc? Also let the contractors and subs know about your security measures. Knowing that you have something in place may be enough to deter potential theft.
•Make sure your security company knows the situation at the house and be aware that you may have to reconfigure your security system based on the structural changes made during the remodel. If you are staying somewhere else during the construction, use your surveillance system to monitor the activities while you are gone. If you don’t have a security system maybe now is the time to evaluate the security companies and get one.
•Consider changing your locks after the project is over. Or temporarily install keyless entry where codes can be assigned and tracked and changed after the project is complete. Many times people with free access to a house will be given a key to gain entry in order to work on the job and could potentially keep it for access later or sell it to someone that may want to burglarize the house.
•Be onsite, but out of the way as much as possible. Drive by the property and check up on things. Make surprise visits to the house, this will let dishonest workers know that you could show up anytime.
•Have a safe place for your kids to play and do their homework. Lay down a set of rules when in the construction areas, don’t touch anything, stay out of the way of workers, don’t talk to strangers or accept gifts, rides, etc. from any of them. Make sure they know where they can and cannot go until the project is over.
•Coordinate the timing of deliveries to coincide with the time the materials will be used or appliances installed. This cuts down on the amount of time these things are sitting around on the job site.
Home remodeling is rewarding and can add value to your home but often comes along with a certain number of headaches. Don’t let home remodeling get in the way of your security. These simple tips can help protect your home and family during the remodel; when you may not even realize you are that exposed.