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Old June 15, 2008, 09:07 AM   #1
distinct
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Building a new house, need security advise

Hi folks, I'm not sure if this is the proper section for this post so feel free to move it elsewhere.

I am leasing some land from a close friend, and am in the process of building a very small house/cottage in which I will live year round. When I first started designing it, I never really gave much thought to security; however I recently had a small and obvious epiphany: If I'm building something from scratch, and have total control over the design/materials, then why not implement some nifty ideas? My main concerns are doors and windows.

The structure itself is pure white oak & antique chestnut - 14'x20', with 7.5' ceiling height, and a garret upstairs for sleeping & storage. It's sort of a mock timber-frame in that the main framing members are 4"x8", the floor joists are also that thick, and the studs & rafters are all 4x4's spaced 18". This is great, because I realized that my door & window frames will all be 4"x4" thick oak and very reinforced. SO, what kind of door should I install that I could go out and just purchase. Nothing "custom" unless it's something I could add on myself. The biggest security risk is the windows, which are all salvaged antique single pane that I converted to casements. I was thinking of shutters or something for when I'm out for an extended amount of time. I have a fairly extensive gun collection, and would rather it not get into the wrong hands (thieves, youth or a combination thereof.) I live in the midst of nowhere but there is a state park within sight down the road where a lot of inner city kids come out to make noise, deal drugs and generally f**k around, vandalising. Petty theft (smash and grabs, etc) is on the rise.

Fortunately, in this state, anything as small as this place will appear to be at most a workshop and not very enticing for an experienced criminal. That could also be a drawback, as thieving kids would likely think it an easy target with no one inside.
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Old June 15, 2008, 11:18 AM   #2
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Why in the world would you go to the time and expense of building a home on someone else's property? All you are doing is benefiting them by adding value to their property. It's like building a house, giving it away, and then renting it from the person you gave it to.

I think you should buy a good safe(s) and then bolt it/them to those 4x8" floor joists.
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Old June 15, 2008, 03:08 PM   #3
distinct
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What's that old saying about passing judgment without knowing the full circumstances?

Let's just say that the entire cost of this project is less than a standard security deposit, and the monthly expenditures for living on the land is less than 1/2 of standard rent within a 100 mi. radius.
-----
So a safe bolted to the beams? That sounds great. How much to sizable gun safes run these days?
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Old June 15, 2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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Well I googled Security Doors and Shutters and this is what I came up with. Plenty of makers to choose from. A regular security door should take care of most people barking in. The windows might be a little more tricky. Hope this helps.
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Old June 15, 2008, 05:29 PM   #5
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Just one link of many, just google gun safes, there are many makes and prices vary.

Should give you a ball park figure on the size and features you want.

I have a National Security, with double wall fireliner...and I'm very satisfied with it.
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Old June 15, 2008, 06:19 PM   #6
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Just an opinion, but make your windows small. Mine are much too high for vermin to consider climbing through. Or, if they have a ladder, most are too small for them to go through. One of the more easy break/ins taken care of for the most part. Of course most will want a sizeable window in the living/rec room, but hopefully that one will face most of the neighbors, or be otherwise conspicuous. Put in a big electrical system, and make use of a lot of security lights.
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Old June 15, 2008, 07:50 PM   #7
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Cooper's Recommendations

Maybe more than you are looking for, but Jeff Cooper listed a lot of home security features for the ideal house, I believe it was in his book, "To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Tell the Truth." One I like is to have the front door positioned so you have a wall at a right angle, with small window off the side so you can look out (command position for your firearm) at the side or back of anyone ringing your doorbell or knocking. Lots of other recommendations in there for layered security, and others have written on the subject. But everyone has the complete works of Cooper on their shelves, right?
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Old June 15, 2008, 08:09 PM   #8
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WELL, I'd opt for a concrete floor in which you could have the safe(s) bolted to - preferably in a closet in your bedroom.

Solid core doors - preferably STEEL - with STEEL door cases and SP8 bolts to bolt the frame to the joists (double them and bolt through both) for all exterior doors but I'd have the bedroom door done this way as well as the closet door in the bedroom that houses the safe. Now your bedroom is the "safe room" in the event of a home invasion.

High small windows with some sort of very prickly bush planted around the windows to make it difficult for anyone trying to scale them.

Of course, you could be burned out...

DO yourself a phenomenal favor by visiting the website

www.monolithicdomes.com

for some superb ideas.

Keep us posted, please!!
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Old June 17, 2008, 12:28 PM   #9
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Idea about safes. I would most defiantly install a floor safe that you can set in place before they pour the foundation. This would be strictly for high valuables, cash and handguns if you wanted. Of course, I would have a larger gun safe after the house is finished. Floor safes that are in the foundation can be completely hidden, and if the door is fireproof, they would withstand a day hours of fire if the house burnt to the ground. I have the basic floorplan to the next house I want to build that has all kinds of neat stuff. I will probably never have the cash to build it, but its fun to dream. That is all....
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Old June 17, 2008, 02:50 PM   #10
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Someone said something once about steel-cased doors? I'm not sure what that means, or even if I got the name right, but I got the idea that it keeps someone from kicking in your door.

The plant you're looking for outside your windows is called cholla cactus.

A barb penetrated through my heavy-duty leather hiking books, a pair of thick wool socks, my polyprop liners, and embedded into my foot so far that I had to take the barb out with a pair of pliers. All that happened so fast I barely knew what hit me.
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Old June 17, 2008, 03:51 PM   #11
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Since you are concerned about windows, I'd think with the 4X4 walls, it'd be rather simple to construct tall,narrow windows. I'm thinking windows that could be maybe six feet tall, and four to 5 inches wide. Somewhat like some jails are constructed. It'd take a mighty small person to be able to break the window, and then slide thru the opening, to gain access to your abode. You might even add horizonal steel bars every few inches apart, to curb any ideas of breaking and entering. Glass blocks are also a possibility. Years ago, we had glass blocks in our milk barn that'd let in the light, but impossible to see what was going on inside. And they were approximately 6" thick, by about 8" square.
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Old June 19, 2008, 02:17 AM   #12
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and a small basement...with secret entrance
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Old June 19, 2008, 07:09 AM   #13
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Jesus, with all the replies about how small your windows should be, you'd be money ahead by just living in a dark cave somewhere! Seriously, (no offense here fellas) who wants to live in a home where you have super small windows up by the ceiling or jail cell-like windows throughout the home? All for fear that someone "might" try to break in? Here's the thing, if someone is determined to get in your home, they'll get in. Get a good safe or two to protect your valuables and call it a day. All this talk about steel doors and what not, if your home is framed conventionally (stick framed), I can get in 5 minutes or less if I wanted too. Regardless of what you do to the doors and windows.
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Old June 20, 2008, 09:14 PM   #14
Chui
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All this talk about steel doors and what not, if your home is framed conventionally (stick framed), I can get in 5 minutes or less if I wanted too. Regardless of what you do to the doors and windows.

Who said anything about a conventionally framed "McMansion"? I've worked in construction for over 30 years with my father and I, too, can "walk thru" a conventional (i.e., poorly constructed) home. There are things that can be done that can thwart both you and I.

Steel door framed steel doors with Medeco locks for all exterior doors and your bedroom door goes a helluva long way for securing your home. And making your outer walls structural as opposed to simply Tyvex with siding on the outside also helps. A lot.

No one - well I am most certainly not - insinuating that the home could ever be impregnable (and still look conventional) but one can make it difficult to breach. That time allows the owner to bring the shotgun into battery and a call to local authorities. Of course, having a decent sized WELL TRAINED dog that is alert and protective also helps.
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Old June 21, 2008, 09:23 AM   #15
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Make at least one window away from the main door large enough to get out of in case of fire. For interior finish on the walls, if you add any, use sheetrock. It dosent burn. Install at least one electric smoke alarm with battery back-up. If using wood-burning or natural/L-P gas, install a carbon monoxide detector. FM (fire marshal) 12
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Old June 22, 2008, 12:57 AM   #16
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Quote:
Jesus, with all the replies about how small your windows should be, you'd be money ahead by just living in a dark cave somewhere! Seriously, (no offense here fellas) who wants to live in a home where you have super small windows up by the ceiling or jail cell-like windows throughout the home? All for fear that someone "might" try to break in? Here's the thing, if someone is determined to get in your home, they'll get in. Get a good safe or two to protect your valuables and call it a day.
First, my windows are small and too high for even a tiny person to get in without a big ladder, and I don't complain about a lack of light at all. Neither do I liken myself to a cave dweller and I've lived here for 27 years. And by your same arguement, if somebody is determined to get your guns, they'll get your guns, safe or no safe. But some of us simply try to make it as difficult as possible, OK?

Don't try to trash an idea just because you don't like it. Let the OP sort through the ideas and do what he likes best. Sheesh.
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Old June 22, 2008, 09:56 AM   #17
chrisandclauida2
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i have thought thru what i will do if i ever get to build a new house.

first is grout filled block. obvious reasons are wood doesnt stop bullets.

second is no split floor plans. i want my family at one end during the vulnerable night time. i dont want a target between me and the kids on the other end of the house.


third is a pass thru of some sort in the bed rooms. ideally in the closets. this will allow all the family to get to the parents without exposing themselves by leaving their rooms entering the halls etc.

fourth is to have a huge walk in closet or an additional room built off the master that is re-bar reinforced grouted block with its own phone and electrical service. ideally i would like both. they would serve the dual purpose of a safe room a safe and disaster shelter. the obvious things like guns water food etc. i envision a walk thru that is the first line of defense and at the rear of the walkthru is the entrance to the second larger room.

i imagine a second 2 car garage sized room accessible only from inside but with escape hatches if needed.

all this will be minimal cost if your building from scratch. even new homes could be stick built with the master bedroom be a block cell inside the house and the block could be completely hidden. then throw a heavy fire door with a bar across the top and bottom inside and you will be safe.

again the reinforcing is cheap and easy during initial construction. cheaper than many of the upgrades people select.

im sure im going beyond what you asked but i have dreams.

Last edited by chrisandclauida2; June 23, 2008 at 10:54 AM.
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Old June 22, 2008, 10:13 AM   #18
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Wow! I am really fortunate to live where I do. There are some really paraniod people around here when it comes to security. There are few places I cannot access with a chainsaw, sledgehammer, and bolt cutter so alot of the suggestions floating around are IMHO overkill. If someone wants to get you, they will get you. They will just wait until you (or your family) are outside and get in that way. What's that, you have a CCL? If they get the drop on you, you're toast. If they know what you have, they likely know you carry and will prepare accordingly. If you want the ultimate in protection, get elected President. Otherwise just be smart and stay low key.

I still say get a good safe and bolt it to the joists.
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Old June 22, 2008, 11:50 AM   #19
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You guys are all missing the point here. It's not that I don't "like" the ideas being suggested, it's that I think they're all all pretty futile for security purposes. Except for the poster talking about block walls of course. The OP mentioned that this home will be constructed out of 4x4 on 18" centers. What I am saying is that with that type of framing, in my opinion, one would be wasting their time worrying about putting tiny windows up high in the walls to avoid someone breaking in. And still, I think the best way to protect valuables is a good safe. A BIG one that nobody can carry off with a good fire rating. I am a general contractor and am just trying to point out facts, not trying to brag or pee in anybodys cheerios here.

Quote:
And making your outer walls structural as opposed to simply Tyvex with siding on the outside also helps. A lot.
I don't know what type of construction you have done with daddy for 30 years, but all exterior walls in residential construction are structural. At least they are required to be by the uniform building code . Also, that extra layer of OSB or plywood or whatever is being used for the shear strength really doesn't slow someone down very much when they commit to opening up your wall with a saw

If you want to make your home truly secure, then pour the walls in place out of concrete. That is your best bet. That's why they make bank vaults that way. And yeah, I've had to rip those apart too.
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Old June 22, 2008, 12:01 PM   #20
Chui
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Well, JAXX, use your saw and I'd shoot you down. Be reasonable. If you're not at home it's not a problem is it? If you're at home and you hear someone jackhammering your Monolithic Dome or axing his way through your exterior wall does it not get your attention? You may need 60 seconds to get out of your slumber and react. That's all it will ever do. I mean, someone could drop down through your roof with you in your home and you'd not likely know it... We've wired homes with 2x6 exterior framing with rebar running through the studs.

We are not likely to face persons such as you or I working as a team trying to break into others' home while they are drugged in bed. But stopping the two or three goblins armed with firearms and "burglerous implements" would offer you time to get the shotgun.

P.S.

Look up "Monolithic Dome"
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Old June 23, 2008, 11:16 AM   #21
chrisandclauida2
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i have to thank some of you for a chuckle. the nanner nanner i can defeat your plywood with a chainsaw and your concrete with a jackhammer . oh ya....well i can just shoot you like indiana jones.

there are a few facts. everything can be broken into if someones intent on doing so. security measures are to create time or effort in breaching said security. making it take too long too much energy or too uncomfortable on would be intruders. probably most importantly is peace of mind for the homeowner.

building a safe room, storm shelter, panic room, man traps or even building in a ways that takes security and response to threats into account are all prudent measures. lots of people are including the 1/2 inch steel safe capsules in their new home or remodel. they are big enough for the family, say 10 ft x 10 ft and secured in a way they will stay if the house takes a direct hit from a tornado. its better than watching your kids being blown away cause the couldnt hold on to you in the closet.

if i ever build a house from scratch i will have at the very minimum a safe room or storm shelter built in. it will be minimum of grouted block or better yet cast concrete section foundation type construction. i want a place for my family to go if endangered and im not there. i want a place that will stand up to a tornado even if the rest of the house is spread of the state. i want a place for securing weapons and supplies for a bug in situation. i want it just because i do. the point is not to find every way to tear apart ones ideas or thoughts but to productively discuss and grow them. who cares if your dad can beat up his dad.

most burglars wont be prepared to get thru double 3/4" plywood reinforced walls and a properly hung fire door. just as thats true some burglars show up with a plasma cutter to cut thru your vault door you bought at that surplus auction with a dream of having a vault in your home. you prepare the best you can and go with it.

i know it was just about a safe but thats the thing about discussions....they evolve.
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Old June 23, 2008, 12:19 PM   #22
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Quote:
First, my windows are small and too high for even a tiny person to get in without a big ladder ...
And probably do not meet the building code for egress windows.
A fireman in full turn out gear needs to be able to get into the bedroom windows.

Talk with your AHJ about window sizes and sill height above the interior floor.
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Old June 23, 2008, 12:40 PM   #23
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Quote:
I have to thank some of you for a chuckle. the nanner nanner i can defeat your plywood with a chainsaw and your concrete with a jackhammer . oh ya....well i can just shoot you like indiana jones.
LOLOL ... no kidding! I will never understand WHY some people in these forums get ENTIRELY off topic to flex their muscles and show-off their (self-percieved???) intellectual superiority. WHO CARES who is smarter than who or who is tougher than who or who's idea is better??? The guy asked for security advice, not a p*ssing contest! I had to comment on this because I ran into a similar problem in a thread that I recently posted. Jeez, come-on guys!

It is very true that if someone REALLY wants to rob you, they will. If it were me I would just make sure that the building is structurally sound, the doors and windows are adequate to prevent EASY entry (maybe even have security bars installed on the windows and door if you are really concerned about forced entry through them) and have a good, highly rated dead-bolt on the door. If you want to get more extreme than that, you can always buy an electronic security system from CompUSA or Best-Buy (they are really pretty inexpensive and about as good as any others) and put-up a chainlink fence and keep a BIG mean dog inside the yard. My advice ... do whatever makes YOU feel better about your security. Also, NEVER let others that you do not trust COMPLETELY know what you have ... that is the cardinal rule! Usually when people rob you, they already know what you have inside BEFORE they go to the trouble of robbing you. Saves them the trouble of making a "dry-run".
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Old June 23, 2008, 12:58 PM   #24
Rifleman 173
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One of my favorite features is outside lights that you control from inside the house to backlight people outside of your home. Think about that. You hear a bump in the night, turn on your outside lights and scan the windows to see a silhouette. Lights like that put the other guy at a big disadvantage. A real big disadvantage.
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Old June 23, 2008, 02:00 PM   #25
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I live in a huge house on a big lot but my son's live in smaller homes. Security is the same and many of the ideas are already mentioned here.
1. Outside motion lights are a major tactical multiplyer.
2. Dog that barks, we all have them, big dogs that bond with the family, Lab-Shep mix for us.
3. High Lumen flashlights in most rooms.
4. Gun safe and another coming.
5. A quickly avalible phone list of the neighbors phones. (I've stopped two robberys of my across the street neighbors house.)
6. Quick grab gun IWB much of the time.
7. Pyrocantha planted in long lines at the base of the cement wall.
8. Mini cactus and regular Tea roses under and near windows.
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