Finding insider security tips for our front door security guide was always a must. That’s why we called upon the help of security specialist and ex-CID Michael Glarvey, who runs a team of private investigators and home security experts at Birch Security Services.
In our minds, we met with these security experts in a secret, basement room around a top-lit table to get their expert advice on front door security. In reality however, it was actually over a skinny latte at Costa Coffee, but indulge us as we set a scene.
The goods news as we found out is that with a few must-make improvements in the way of smart home gadgets and DIY hacks, it’s easy to add a top layer of security to the front of your home this season. Choose from the best home security systems like video doorbells, automated security gates and more.
Front door security – where to start
1. Assess your front door security
Pretend you’re 'Hefty Hugh' or 'Lanky Len' for one moment and stand on the street outside your home. By this we don’t mean that you should plot how to steal your neighbour’s 'fat red hen'. But do take a moment to look at the exterior of your house and think about what potential burglars can see when they pass.
Aside from knowing how to make it look like you're home when you're not, a few tweaks simple fixes here and there can go a long way.
‘Move ladders or large bins away from fences and walls as these can be used as climbing aids to get into your property,’ says home security specialist Leigh Barnes from Jacksons Fencing. ‘Lock any tools left in the front and back garden inside your house, as these could be used to cut through security systems, too.’
2. Stock up on ‘defensive’ plants around your front garden
Let nature lend a helping hand in creating an effective ‘anti-burglar boundary’ on your side of any fencing around your front garden. This will make life hard for anyone trying to get to your front door by 'alternative' routes.
‘Stocking up on "defensive" plants such as berberis, hawthorn or roses can help create an impenetrable barrier that the majority of burglars won’t want to entertain,’ says Leigh Barnes.
’If you choose to add a trellis panel on top of a fence or gate that takes the overall height to over 2m, you will require planning permission. But growing a thorny plant along the top of a 2m fence – provided it does not feature any support structures – generally doesn't require planning permission unless there are local restrictions in place. It's always best to check with your local planning authority first.'
3. Add extra security at the front of your home
If you're wondering how to protect your home with smart security, then fitting automated gates is a great option. It will help to reduce access to your garden path and grounds.
‘If someone wants to come in they have to climb over it and that makes it more of a mission,’ says Michael Glarvey of home security specialist Birch Security Services. ‘While they are expensive they are a great form of security as gates that have an intercom access outside give you an extra level of protection.'
‘There are different types of intercom you can choose from. If you were renovating from scratch you can install an underground network cable that provides the data from your house to the gate. This means you can have an intercom that provides you with audio and visual information straight to a control panel fitted in your house or direct to your smartphone.'
‘Alternatively, we can retro fit a wireless device and use a SIM card so that when someone rings your doorbell it effectively calls you directly.’
4. Install a secure front door
It may sound obvious, but the best piece of security for your front door is to make sure you own robust door and window hardware. ‘We go to houses to assess the security and often get asked which gadgets and alarms to install, but often the front door just isn’t up to scratch,’ says Michael Glarvey.
‘Old UVPC doors, for example, can be weak and are easy to break through, so invest in a door that feels solid and will deter anyone trying to get in. Fitting a composite doors or solid wood door that has a 5-point locking system as a minimum is a good place to start.’
To find a local window and door installer in your area and for advice on securing a sliding glass door, try a FENSA approved installer.
5. Check the front door locks and hinge bolts
Get the best front locks you can afford that are fitted by a professional that function properly. You can check Sold Secure for a list of rigorously tested security products.
‘This is not only important for a good level of security, it’s also necessary for insurance purposes,’ says Steffan George, managing director at the Master Locksmiths Association.
‘An MLA locksmith will be able to check the small print of your home insurance policy to check your security meets the minimum requirements and that your insurance is valid. You can consider adding additional security such as an extra lock, hinge bolts, London/Birmingham bars, laminated glass in any vision or side panels.’
6. Fit a video doorbell
A relatively cheap and easy addition to your front door, a video doorbell makes for a good burglar deterrent. If someone delivers a parcel or simply presses the doorbell, you can talk to them through the doorbell via an app on your smartphone and make like you're home, even when you're not.
You can buy a stand-alone video doorbell that is wired in or battery operated. Or, you can buy one that works wirelessly in harmony with your smart alarm, motion sensor lighting, CCTV security cameras and other smart home devices, and will send you instant notifications on your phone or tablet if there is anything suspicious at your front door.
Ring, Arlo, Ezviz, Nest and Remobell S are just some of the best wireless doorbell brands you can find online.
7. Invest in a smart alarm system
You can choose to have a bespoke security alarm installed in your home. This can link directly to a range of smart home gadgets that control lighting, blinds, cameras, motion sensors and more. And you can access everything from your smartphone and/or a control panel in your home. Convenient, no?
This means that if anyone approaches your front door it can look like you’re home even when you're not. For a bespoke home security solution tailored to your needs and installed by a professional, visit NSI or SSAIB for to find a professional vetted home security company in your area.
Alternatively, you can choose an off-the-shelf smart alarm system you can fit yourself such as ERA Protect. This particular product can be tailored to the size of your home and your individual needs.
The ERA Protect range features an alarm hub and wireless keypad that you can use with up to 96 PIR sensors and accessories around your home including an indoor security camera, an outdoor floodlight security camera and a video doorbell.
The system links to your smartphone or tablet so you can get instant alerts should anyone intrude on your home.
How can I make my door secure?
There are a number of ways to make your door secure, but start by ensuring you have a good quality door fitted with locks that are approved by your insurance company.
Choose from a five-lever mortice lock or a multi-point locking system. Night latches and deadbolt locks can also be considered.
Do you need an electrician to install a video doorbell?
If you opt for a wireless version, a video doorbell can be easy to install yourself. Once you have charged your doorbell at a powerpoint, it's simply a matter of choosing your position at your front door - usually 4ft from the floor - and drilling a couple of holes in the wall to then screw the doorbell into position. Remember to ensure the wall you are screwing your doorbell to is suitable first.
If, however, you buy a wired video doorbell, it's best to call upon the help of an electrician to install this professionally.
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One of the UK's most respected tech and smart homes writers, Emily Peck also covers everything from interiors style to decorating trends. She is a contributor to Wired UK, and has also had a column in House Beautiful. She has written for publications such as Grand Designs, Stylist, Shortlist, Woman&Home, BBC, Ideal Home and House & Garden. She was once the Features Editor of Ideal Home.
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