Homebrew Security System

1

September 15, 2012 by megmstephens

Back in June, before there was power at Heartland House, I borrowed a generator from a friend of mine to get the project started. It was a very nice generator, too, with a Honda engine. Well, I found out that the disadvantage of no power can be fixed with a generator – but it is trumped by the disadvantage of not having running water and plumbing when nature calls. I was working by myself, it was getting dark, and I had to go to the bathroom SO BAD. So I packed up quickly and left.

The next day when I came over to work on the house, the generator was gone. I filed a police report and basically lost an entire Saturday’s worth of work dealing with the police and talking with the neighbors to see if they had noticed anyone around the house. I blame myself, though, for being careless with a friend’s piece of equipment and lax about security. I’m too trusting that no one would come into my yard or even into the house. I probably forgot to lock the kitchen window in my rush to get out quickly.

Since that event, I’ve been almost hyper about security. I triple check the doors and windows when leaving for the day. I don’t leave expensive tools at the project site, and that has been getting harder and harder as the tools have been getting bigger and more expensive. And I’ve installed security motion-sensor lights on the front and back of the house and both sides of the garage. I intentionally removed the window from the alley side of the garage. I also moved the door and second window so that all of them would eventually be within the privacy fence in the back yard, and visible from the house.

The new windows and person-sized door, all facing the yard between the garage and the house.

With the lights and a new door and windows on the garage, I was feeling pretty good about the security of the garage overall. But I still wasn’t comfortable leaving tools there, because everything in the garage was visible from the windows. And even a brand new window is no match for an elbow or a stick if someone really wanted to get in.

But I couldn’t keep shuttling a chop saw, a circular saw, my DeWalt cordless drill, hammer drill, and sawzall back and forth every day. And eventually I want to get a table saw, which isn’t especially portable either. I’m also stocking up on materials: doors, trim, lumber, a furnace… All of this is being stored in the garage or the house until we get it installed. I had to come up with some way of securing the windows when we were not there, and I also wanted to block the view into the garage at the same time, to eliminate the possibility that someone would look in the windows, check out the tool stash I have, and then break in.

Here’s the view of the shutters from the inside of the garage, closed and locked. They’re not my prettiest work, but they are very functional!

So I built “shutters” for the windows. The shutters are actually just lumber thrown together out of what I had lying around in scrap. They are hinged at the top and fit perfectly over the window on the inside. I pieced together some OSB board to cover the frame made out of dimensional lumber. The hinges came from a door that I took down from inside the house (all the existing interior doors in the house will be replaced, with new hardware). The only actual money I spent on these were the 4 barrel locks that hold the shutter against the inside of the window when it is locked.

The barrel locks hold the shutter firmly against the window from the inside.

Here are the window shutters in the “open for business” position.

When I am there working and want to open the windows, I can open them by flipping the shutter up towards the ceiling. I use a hook and eye with a short piece of chain to hold the shutters open against the ceiling. You can just barely see the chain dangling from the rafter in the picture to the left.

I’m pretty happy with this security system, because the lights outside the garage flip on when anyone walks close to the building, which I’ve been told is a good security measure. The new person-sized door is a steel door, and it’s pretty solid. The garage door also latches from the inside, so that it can’t be opened unless you have a key or somehow get into the garage from a different way. The windows are protected with the shutters from the inside, and serve the dual purpose of blocking anyone from looking into the garage to see my stash of stuff. The last thing I am trying to decide is if it is more secure-looking to paint the shutters black or leave them plain OSB. I’ve done one each way, like in this picture:

The new windows with the shutters closed.

Leaving the OSB plain makes it look like the windows are boarded up from the inside, which is a look that could be good for deterring theft. On the other hand, it could make a thief think that there is something worth stealing in there, because we went to the trouble of boarding up a new window and make it more likely they will break in. The blacked out version just makes it seem like it’s so dark that there isn’t anything in there at all. I prefer the look of the blacked out version – Heartland House has too many rough edges as it is. Either way, I’m feeling pretty good about all the security measures that I’ve installed for the garage, which is Base Camp for the project. Soon we will be done installing the reclaimed wood siding, and it will be time to paint the garage. Then I can reveal to you the colors we chose for the outside of Heartland House!

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One thought on “Homebrew Security System

  1. kmccully says:

    I agree with the blacked out version. The first thing I thought was what you said – “well, seeing it boarded up is just going to make someone curious about what the heck is in there!” Blacked out just makes it look dark, esp. at night.

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