View Full Version : Need Ideas for HD given house layout

March 25, 2009, 09:45 AM
I've been thinking about how to respond to a home defense situation (robbery, invasion, etc.) given my house layout.

My goal is not to "clear the house" or anything like that. My goal would be to safely get my family together in one area and wait for help unless directly confronted with deadly force.

Problem is my house layout (shown below) is a split plan, with the master on one end of the house, and the kids bedrooms on the other end. To make it trickier, to get from my room to the kids requires me to cross the open area, which includes the front and back doors, the most likely entry points for a BG.


So I'm looking for suggestions on something like the following scenario. I'm in bed, middle of the night. I hear a noise and it's clear someone is in the house.

I need to grab my gun, get my wife and then try to get the entire family in one place, probably in the kids room since I'd rather go to them armed, than to have them come to me.

Let's hear your best suggestions.

Brian Pfleuger
March 25, 2009, 10:02 AM
My suggestion is primarily a first class alarm system. Sensors on all the doors and windows, glass break sensors and motion/heat sensors. Also get a camera system with cameras placed in and out of the house, so you can see as close to everything as possible, with the monitor in your bedroom. Get an intercom system that allows you to communicate with every room, both so you can speak to the kids and issue directives to the BGs.

The alarm is going to scare off 99% of BGs.

The camera system will allow you see where any BG is who's dumb enough to hang around, the intercom will allow you to tell them to go away. I really can't imagine too many bad guys hanging around with an alarm blaring and the homeowner on an intercom telling them that the police are coming and to go away. The cameras will also allow you to know when it is safe to move toward the kids.

It also occurred to me that you could install a locking door on the hallway leading to the kids rooms but I'm not completely convinced that would be a good idea and I can envision some issues with doing so.

March 25, 2009, 10:08 AM
How old are your kids? Are they old enough to respond to an intercom and to lock their doors? If so, you might consider installing an intercom system to alert them in the event of an emergency and install double-cylinder deadbolts on their doors. That way, should you hear anything that makes you consider that you are in a home defense emergency, you can warn them to lock their doors from inside, and to take cover (wouldn't be a bad idea to orient their beds such that the child can put the boxspring/mattress between him/herself and the door), and stay there. You can then, using the key to the deadbolt, open their doors when the emergency is over. I also recommend using solid core or steel doors on bedrooms.

Rifleman 173
March 25, 2009, 11:10 AM
Your two main points of entry put you at a disadvantage right off the bat. The front door and the patio sliding door would be the places I would suspect a criminal suspect to enter. So if there is an illegal entry, you're probably going to have to move across the suspect's line of vision as soon as you come out of the master suite. Not good!!

So you plan to come out of the master suite, move across the vision line of a potential suspect, across the family room, down a hallway to get to bedrooms #1 and #2? The design of the house doesn't work well for me at all. The bedrooms should all be on the same level and reasonably close together and they aren't.

Your very best option is a good alarm system that is loud and activates outside lights, flashing lights and draws attention to your place. Home invaders hate noise, light and disturbances. Your alarm should automatically detect incursions and allow you to activate it from inside your bedroom and several other spots in your home with a simple push of a button. This will scare away any intruders or potential intruders as soon as it sounds.

As to firearms and tactics... Anything that you do could create problems for you so you will have to practice, practice and practice even more than you even think you need to eliminate trouble. In your situation, accuracy is going to be of paramount importance. Accuracy is important to all shooting situations but because of how the rooms are situated for your house and allowing even a partial intrusion with the suspect almost to one of your bedrooms that have a number, you then have the possibility of having the need to accurately shoot in the direction of one of the numbered bedrooms. Not a good possibility if a child is asleep on the other side of a wall that an intruder is standing next to on this side. So if you're looking at a situation like this one, wow! That's not a place that I would want to be.

About the only thing for firearms that I would think might help you out would be an M-4 type clone with a good red dot, like an Aimpoint or EOTech scope, mounted on it for accuracy. I don't normally suggest them up a really good laser sight mounted on the M-4 would also help in some cases. Don't go with a cheap laser either. Get a good one that is co-witnessed to your red dot sight so that they confirm the accuracy of the shot. I would then practice a lot of upper body and potential head shot situations using each sight system individually and both of them at the same time in some situations. I would measure the distances for all my shooting angles and lengths then practice them on a mock-up of my house at the range. I would back up my rifle with a good Glock 17 pistol that would have a Dokter type pistol sight on it and a laser sight system on it too. Again, I would try to co-witness the red dot sight and the laser sight system. And then I would back-up both firearms with a good sheath knife for just in case work. I would also look very heavily at my ammo types available to me. TAP rounds for the rifle or hollow point ammo? Glaser Safety Slugs for both firearms maybe? These are all decisions that you will have to make specific to your special shooting and tactical needs. What do you do if an intruder takes one of your children hostage? Can you make that head shot or not?

I would also have a security expert come in and look over my household situation too to see if he can make suggestions specific to your security needs besides an alarm system. Maybe certain window glass might help your situation. A good emergency plan for you and your family can also be a help. I think that you are just starting out on a hard road but a smart one in that you are planning ahead of trouble. Too many people fail to make good contingency plans and they end up hurting because of their lack of foresight. Good luck.

March 25, 2009, 11:33 AM
A lot of great ideas here.

I see that my initial assessment was right. There is no way to safely enter the main area without more information on what is going on.

I'm planning the first line of defense to be external. Landscape lighting, motion lights, etc. Make it an unappealing target.

One thing I have that might help me get more info is my dogs. They sleep with us, and react to noise in the night quite well. If I let them out of the bedroom, I know their first instinct will be to run barking to the front door, because they're used to people coming there. But I'm sure if the BG is entering from the back, they'll quickly find that out and move to the back of the house.

Now this is useless if there are multiple BGs entering from multiple points, so I still need ways to get more info. I was planning on external cameras, but a few internal ones in the common areas are also a very good idea.

I appreciate all of the ideas, and love to hear more.

March 25, 2009, 12:27 PM
My home layout is quite similar, with an open living room and hallway and bedrooms at opposite ends of the house. We have a strong metal security door at the back with multiple deadbolts and latches. Windows have grates I built myself out of rebar that we latch in place at night; the latch bases are secured into the surrounding studs.

The sliding glass door is also secured with steel latches from the inside, that can't be reached without breaking out almost all of the glass. Still trying to figure out how to prevent the glass from being semi-quietly chipped out to make an entry hole. The idea is to make it impossible for an intruder to enter without making a huge amount of noise that will both awaken me and hopefully let me know the direction of the attack.

The interior doors are also equipped with deadbolts we lock at night. An extra layer of security for those in the bedrooms. You'll have to figure out a solution for the kids on your own, my little one is only 2 mo. and the crib is in the master bedroom with myself and the wife, so I've put off a security solution for the secondary bedrooms for the moment.

Electronic alarm systems are a good deterrent, but they can fail or be defeated by a skilled intruder. Always have mechanical means of alerting yourself to an intrusion as backup.

Basic security measures will normally deter thieves looking for a quick score. The downside is that securing your house well means any intruder willing to put in the effort is a determined evildoer who likely intends you harm. Keep a firearm loaded by your bedside, and practice until you know you won't miss.

Claude Werner
March 25, 2009, 03:41 PM
You could put strategically placed mirrors in a few spots that would allow you to surveil at least part of the danger areas from your bedroom door prior to leaving the bedroom. Couple that with at least two night lights per room to keep the illumination level up and you can get some idea of who is where before leaving the bedroom.

Weird as it might seem, in your case one or more wide angle door viewer (http://www.davstarsecurity.com/Sdoorviewers.htm) in your bedroom door or even the wall might provide some good information as to unwanted occupants of the living room and family room.

Rifleman 173
March 25, 2009, 04:35 PM
Briefly, let's take a look at glass in your homes. Take the sliding glass door that your homes have. Not much to them, right? Just regular glass with a metal frame around them that moves back and forth. Not if you're smart or prepared.

You can replace the glass in your sliding glass doors with material which looks like glass but isn't. It's not plastic either which will eventually turn foggy. It's some new material that the security specialists know all about. This stuff is also unbreakable. So you have a clear material that you can see through but it won't break like regular glass does. So Joe Dirtbag throws a rock at your patio slider and it bounces off. His noise making alerts you and your dogs which begin to raise Cain. He can't easily get into your home so you have a little more time to get ready to greet Mr. Dirtbag in the manner that he deserves.

Most sliders pop right open when you apply pressure to them near their locks. They're just too flimsy to be secure enough, right? Not with the sliding door your security expert can show you. The whole frame is reinforced so that no amount of pressure will allow it to pop open with a simple push from the screwdriver. And the extra lock, the second one that the new door has on it, almost means that your slider is as secure as Ft. Knox. When you couple two locks on the door with an iron bar at the foot of the rear of the door as a blocking mechanism, well.... Let's just say you'll sleep a whole lot more secure at night.

Most of this stuff is common sense. We have the technology to improve our security of our homes and the safety of our families. Couple good technology with forethought and you get to live safe.

March 28, 2009, 12:28 PM
My suggestion would be a nice big dog. Nothing beats it.

March 28, 2009, 01:10 PM
Take your dog for a walk around your neighborhood at night when there's no moon out. You will very quickly notice things about other houses that make them vulnerable. Think like a bad guy. I did this one time and was amazed at how informative it was (to me anyway).

1) You will first notice the exterior lighting, or the lack thereof. With no moon, some houses look just dead.
2) You will hear outside dogs bark at you as you walk your dog down the street. Sometimes an inside dog will bark too.
3) You'll notice some places look totally dead (no exterior lights, no dogs barking, no cars in the driveway). That might just mean the owner turns his lights off and parks in the garage, but it looks a lot more attractive for a robber than the place lit up next door.

Exterior lights, a dog, and signs of occupation will keep 99% of bad guys at bay. Unless they are after you specifically, then it's tricky.

March 28, 2009, 01:15 PM
I suppose bricking up the windows and doors is out of the question?

it worked for me unless they shimmy down through the skylight tubes.

and those are mined.

March 28, 2009, 04:38 PM
Take your dog for a walk around your neighborhood at night when there's no moon out. You will very quickly notice things about other houses that make them vulnerable. Think like a bad guy. I did this one time and was amazed at how informative it was (to me anyway).

My wife and I did this the other night. And you're right. It's weird to see how lifeless a house can look. A few houses, if it wasn't for the blue flicker from a TV set, I'd have never known someone was home.

I certainly need some more outdoor lighting and other things to make the house a less inviting target.

March 28, 2009, 05:06 PM
I would definately have to second

1) Good external lighting
2) A trustworth dog

3) Curtians in rooms with valuables (don't advertise)

Extra security is great (alarms, cameras, and intercom) if you can afford it. But definately don't compromise if that is not possible; there are plenty of things that can be done to keep out the uninvited.

Brian Pfleuger
March 28, 2009, 05:41 PM
A high quality alarm system should be at the top of the list.

Any good alarm will be all but impossible to defeat. Most guys will never try, most who do will run like school girls when the siren sounds. Very, very few will stick around to challenge you and those that do will stay around no matter what. A good alarm resolves 99+% of your concerns.

Guns are the LAST resort. Dogs can be a pain in the back side. Outdoor lights supplement not replace an alarm.

Strategically placed glass break sensors, window sensors and motion/heat sensors will make your house virtually impenetrable by anyone who cares enough to be scared of being arrested. Nothing will stop the psychos anyway, that's where the gun comes in.

March 31, 2009, 02:41 AM
Well, if you can't keep them locked out... keep them locked in.
Secure the point of their entry so that they cannot escape through it.
Have double sided deadbolts on the doors so they cannot unlock and leave.
Also be equipped with motion sensor lighting on all sides of the home, preferably, with cameras in them.
Find these very affordable here....

They have wireless motion sensor engaged camera flood lights, with VCR DVD-R -turn on record-commanders, at least to capture video of the intrusion. Cheap too... Under $750.00 for a good package.
They even have night vision, pan/tilt-zoom camera options.

Still though, keep them from escaping once you have settled into your "safe room", and capture as much video footage of the intruders as you can.

Of course too... keep your primary video recording unit hidden away in a rafter somewhere, just in case the alarm don't chase them away quickly and they end up robbing some items while they are in there at it. Since the units specified, (the x10's), are wireless, they are easily hidden and stashed in a remote area, out of sight, and they cannot find it to steal the video evidence you will have against them that will justify your cause.

As far as the kids go, have them expert at hide and seek, and kept aware to take and keep cover so they can stay out of the firing line. ; )

March 31, 2009, 08:40 AM
Thanks for the X10 link. I had forgotten about those guys.

But, for the life of me, I can't think of a single reason I would want to KEEP the BGs in my house.

I can understand the desire to make sure they're caught and to want to make sure they're not preying on my neighbors. But my first responsibility is to make sure my family is safe, and safe room or not, I have to think that trapping them i the house with me decreases my family's safety.

Lee Lapin
March 31, 2009, 08:26 PM
IMHO job one in your situation is getting your family safely behind you and your gun. That means going to the kids despite the risk of crossing the room in between your bedrooms.

Dogs are a big help. Take good care of yours! 8^) They are a big deterrent.

You still need several things in place IMHO to give you as many advantages as possible. First, the doors themselves need to be hardened as much as possible. A steel security screen or storm doors outside the existing front doors might help. Burglar bars at the patio door too. As much reinforcement as it takes to make sure you have time to get across the house before anyone can gain entry.

Exterior motion activated lights have been mentioned. Those are a good idea. External motion sensors facing across the doors will warn you of anyone approaching as well. We use the RWA300R system (formerly called The Reporter, now made by Chamberlain) from buy.com for this purpose. Extra PIR2 sensors are available there- the receiver comes with one sensor and will handle up to three more. Mounted about 4' high, they will miss 'seeing' small animals. See http://www.buy.com/prod/reporter-rwa300r-the-reporter-wireless-alert-system/q/loc/111/90125222.html , it might pay to shop around some since it's been a while since we bought ours.

There needs to be a cell phone available to your wife, in case your phone line gets ripped out. She needs to be calling the cavalry, you need to be covering the movement to secure the kids. Your interior emergency lighting needs consideration also, as intruders have been known to cut power to target houses (meter bases are easy to pull). There are 'power failure' commercial type lights available, you can get night lights with a power failure mode, even battery powered motion detector interior lights (but those are a pain for normal living, I think).

You'll want the kids' bedrooms and the hallway in the dark. The rest of the house should be as light as you can manage- the X-10 stuff is good for that. The bedroom you choose as a safe room should have cover set up for the family to hide behind. Full packed bookshelves, heavy furniture, whatever you can work out. You'll need someplace to bunker down yourself to protect the kids' bedroom doors, the hall is a natural funnel and any place that lets you cover it from cover will work.

Be aware of the windows in the kids' rooms and secure them well also. And in doing all this, don't forget- you and the family may have to get out in an emergency sometime, too...



April 1, 2009, 03:56 AM
Croz... Sorry, I didn't give the impression that they wouldn't know that you were there, hiding. My scenario was intended to hide outside, covering their point of entry preventing escape through it until the police arrived, or until you can have absolute chance to hold them at gunpoint, and to be sure you have them 'all'.

If it were just 1 crook, or 2, and he/they have no Idea that police are coming and too occupied ripping apart your entertainment system, that is one predicament. However, if a group comes storming into your house, totally aware that you are home and alert to that fact, that is more like a full blown home invasion! That is another breed. For this type of 'heist', they have remote control high power strobe lights with squealers to discombulate the invaders. I'll find the source of these items, unless you do first...

April 1, 2009, 09:59 PM
Great thread, I've always found excellent ideas on this subject here. You might want to do a search for some more ideas. Search terms: house, defense, security, hardening, etc. Excerpts from Jeff Cooper's 'Shoot straight' book are here on this site as well. I think he devoted a chapter to home layout/security.

Remote motion sensors outdoors (powered by AAA batteries) with receiver/chimes located in the house. Cameras are good. You can find cheap and simple or super-expensive wireless set-ups. I think you're looking to detect activity/motion primarily, but if you can afford hi-res, do so. Wired cameras are fine, but try to mount them inside (like high from a front-window pointed at front entry). Outdoor cameras will be more vulnerable to tampering/disabling.

I'd also be concerned about the location of the childrens' rooms, in the event of entry from the rear patio-door. Entry through either doors puts BG's directly between you and kids' rooms. Kids' hiding closet? Maybe hide-under-bed strategy, add a trunk/footlocker (filled with books, magazines) at the foot of their beds? Bookcases/books at their western walls (assuming front door is north), perhaps something to 'line' that hallway to their rooms. The master bedroom seems to be a good point to cover front-entry. If you haven't already, have the kids prepared for a 'fire drill'.

I'd consider what firearms you plan to use as well, to minimize penetration and cross-fire issues. HD shotgun with buck, handgun rounds.

Wooden dowels for the sliding glass doors and windows (to prevent 'casual entry') have not been mentioned.

Tactical strobe lights? .... http://www.blacklight.com/items/CHST2000S
who knows? But I do know these ones are blinding.

April 9, 2009, 10:49 PM
Well, one more step down. The alarm system went in today, with all of the major points of entry covered. Working on some outside lighting soon.

April 10, 2009, 05:22 PM
just to add what most already have thought of i'm sure. if your moving, and possibly shooting, in the direction of the kiddies rooms some frangible rounds sound like they should be on the shopping list.

April 10, 2009, 06:40 PM
I agree with a large dog, that is very loud. Had a bad guy come in my house 2 years ago. 300 pounds of dogs chased him out and up a tree where he was arrested. When you aren't home there is someone there watching the family & house. I feel better when I'm away and my wife is home alone.

November 2, 2009, 02:16 PM
Posting for future people who stumble on this post (was a good post)

Current alarm systems with 1 telephone line as primary and a radio backup system are almost 100% secure they can cut your telco line but they cant do anything to the radio comm (sure a little bit more money but worth it if your getting an alarm system without radio backup your crippling your alarm system) or contact your Telco company and have them put a lock on your phone box and bury the cables.

But if your not wanting to clear the house in the event of a break in (dont blame ya that layout puts you at huge risk with no support unless your wife is willing to go with ya :eek:) I suggest this after your house layout.

if there is no door starting at that hallway to bedroom 1 and 2 you need one get a regular front door lock (you keep the key) and every night have your kids lock the door. in the event of a break in the kids will hear the alarm give them directions to head under thier bed or in thier closet and you and your wife do the same (assuming your bedroom has a lock too) sure all this sounds crazy and disturbing to your kids (depending on thier age) but to me you can never be too safe and anything can happen at anytime.

Let me also take this time to tell everyone about alarm response (worked in business for awhile now) when someone breaks in nobody knows whats going on (even you) so you lock yourself down, the alarm company will sometimes call 1-4 phone numbers first before even sending the police, but lets say you reach your alarm company and say send the police. The police have tons of things already going on and unless they hear from your alarm company its a verified break-in (meaning someone has been seen onsite) they will put that alarm call right in the middle of current calls meaning higher priority first then you. Depending on where you live personally I have seen Police respond anywhere from 10 mins all the way to 4 hours! just a little F.Y.I everyone.

To me the lock in the hallway seems like a pretty good idea for a lockdown situation, even with an alarm system.

Cheers all!

Yankee Traveler
November 3, 2009, 01:01 PM
A few things that I noticed were;

Privacy tint on the windows/slider
Arrange furniture in the living room and family room to provide cover if for some reason you need to make the trip to the kids room, a couch parrallel with the hallway...

No bathrooms???

November 3, 2009, 03:23 PM
DOG is great definatley do that. Now I am no expert by any means, so correct me if this is totally a bad idea...but it seems as though noone can get to his bedroom or his children's rooms without being seen from his room. If the BG was already in the house would it be bad if he got his wife to call 911 while he kept the hallway clear from the cover of his room? The way I see it he could keep everyone safe without having to move out and endangering himself. Like I said I could be missing something major here, but at a glance it made sense to me. (btw his position in bedroom would be on the "north" wall aiming SE so not to aim at kids room but still covering hallway.)

November 3, 2009, 05:31 PM
Shape of home is the least of my concern. I want to keep them out. I want them to work hard at getting in to begin with. Here is what I would do....

#1 secure all exterior doors so that they cannot be breeched quickly. Making the criminal work hard will discourage him and cost him time allowing you to be prepared.

#2 same goes for windows (bars and or window film along with locking mechanisms)

#3 monitored alarm system with an extra keypad in your bedroom. This will allow you to know if your home has been breeched upon entry and check the status while in bed (my pad has lighted zones to let me know which section has been breeched) The alarm will also deter most as Peetza said and alert wake you.

#4 Lights, dog, or any other extras for early warning or prevention of an attempt.

If a home invasion isn't prevented.....

#1 Have a plan so that the time you have bought by hardening your doors and windows can be utilized efficiently. This plan should be rehearsed and depends upon your individual situation (house layout, age of children, etc.)

#2 Make bad guy come to you if possible.

#3 Split plans stink for defending family members but great for a noisy wife LOL.

Shawn Dodson
November 4, 2009, 11:24 PM
An unusual noise at night? First I'd try to locate where its coming from.

I'd probably shout a verbal challenge to establish my presence: "WHO'S THERE! WHAT ARE YOU DOING! I HAVE A GUN!"

I'd clear as much area as I can see from the master bedroom door and then have my wife move quickly to the other bedrooms, while I provide overwatch, so there's an adult with the kids.

There may or may not be a need for me to join them. If necessary I'd move dynamically to my objective.

Maintain security and call 911.