Designing For Security: Checklists, Best Practices, & More

Designing For Security: Checklists, Best Practices, & More

When it comes to protecting your home, business, or other property, design plays a huge role in security. The right layout and design can provide a significant deterrent to burglars, would-be criminals, or pretty much anyone who would want to gain unauthorized access to your property.

As such, it’s important to take the time to design your property with security in mind, whether it’s a home or a commercial building.

And when it comes to designing your property for security, there are a few key elements to consider. How secure your property is, may be determined by various factors, from the location you choose to landscaping, locks, lighting, and pretty more.

To help make the seemingly daunting task easier, here’s a brief overview of essential considerations you should make when planning and designing for security, including checklists and best practices.

Checklist: Essential Security Design Considerations

Pick the Right Property Location 

The location of your property is perhaps the most important factor to consider when building a new home or commercial property. It’s best to choose an area with low crime rates and easy access to police, as well as other emergency services. If you’re renovating an existing property, areas that are well-lit and have plenty of people around are less likely to be targeted by criminals.

  • Checklist Item: Choose a safe location for your property 

Get It Right on Landscaping 

Besides being among the first (and last) crucial things to consider when designing property, landscaping can have a huge impact on preventing crime. Overgrown hedges, shrubs, and trees, for instance, basically reduce visibility and can provide hiding places for criminals. But if you are like most people, you probably already know how landscaping can increase property value, meaning you can’t just do away with it.

  • Checklist Item: If you opt to include landscaping, make sure it’s well-maintained and trimmed back to ensure visibility.

Think About Secure Parking 

If you anticipate driving visitors from time to time to your property, it’s essential to put their needs in mind during the planning and design processes. This is especially true for commercial premises that may be used as banking halls, shopping malls, entertainment joints, and a wide range of other businesses where customers frequent for products and services.

Considering that most mugging and burglary incidents happen in parking lots, having parking access control can help keep visitors confident that their vehicles are safe and secure. Regulating who can access your parking lot can go a long way in helping to reduce the risk of theft, vandalism, and other criminal activities.

Prioritizing security in parking lot design can also help reduce the risk of collisions while enhancing the convenience of access to tenants. It’s a good way to attract potential tenants and even buyers!

  • Checklist Item: Design your parking space carefully. In addition to having an access-controlled parking system, you may consider installing CCTV, utilizing parking space barriers, and ensuring the space is well-lit

Prioritize Lighting 

Whether you’re planning or designing a home, residential, or commercial building, lighting is one of the last things you’d want to get wrong. It’s an extremely important element of security, especially as far as the exterior of the structure is concerned.

When choosing the right outdoor lighting, some factors to consider include the size of the space that needs illumination, the amount of light needed, energy efficiency, and the overall style you’re looking to create.

While a well-lit exterior will often keep ill-intenders at bay, a properly-lit interior helps improve user safety and convenience. For the outdoors, motion-sensor-activated lighting can be even more effective in deterring criminals.

  • Checklist Item: Interior and exterior lighting should be a priority when designing with security in mind. 

Consider an All-inclusive Security System 

Whether you’re designing your own home or working on a project for a real estate client, high chances are that a security system will cross your mind. Ensuring maximum security often needs considering more than the quality of your door locks and windows.

At the very least, consider installing a camera security system. This can help you monitor your property and can provide evidence if a crime does occur.

  • Checklist Item: Besides surveillance cameras, an all-inclusive security system includes alarms and sensors that can alert you or the owners whenever a suspicious or out-of-the-ordinary activity occurs on the property. 

Use Strong Locks and Security Doors

Whether it’s a home or commercial premise, it pays to have quality security doors and impact-resistant windows as part of your design considerations. Especially for the doors, consider fitting them with strong, quality locks. This can go a long way in helping to prevent unauthorized access to the building.

  • Checklist Item: Impact-resistant windows and quality security doors with reliable locks

Fence the Property 

By creating a physical barrier between the property and the outside world, fencing can help keep intruders out. Besides being an effective psychological deterrent to would-be criminals, a fence can also provide visual protection.

It makes it harder for potential intruders to see inside the building and plan a break-in. Better yet, a fence is a good way to control access and help monitor who is coming and going.

  • Checklist Item: Include a perimeter fence in your design 

Other Access Control Measures 

You can also consider access control measures like using keycards, biometric scanners, and security guards to control access to the building.

Best Practices When Designing For Security 

In a nutshell, some of the best practices to observe when designing a structure for security include:

  • ADA compliance
  • Fire safety and Emergency exits
  • Ensure the building meets all local building codes

Make Sure the Building is ADA Compliant

Besides improving accessibility, observing ADA compliance in the design process can help make a building more secure. It can improve a building’s security by making sure that all people, regardless of disability, have access to the building and its security features. This includes providing ramps, elevators, and other accommodations to ensure PWDs can easily enter and exit the building. ADA compliance is basically more important when designing commercial buildings.

Have Enough Emergency Exits 

Emergency exits are another important consideration when designing a building for security. These help the users to easily escape in the event of a crisis or disaster, such as a fire, a flood, or another catastrophe. To ensure the safety of owners, tenants, and users, emergency exits should be clearly marked and easy to access in case of an emergency. You may also want to consider including fire safety systems in your design.

Comply With All Local Building Codes 

Most municipalities, cities, and states usually have a list of compliance regulations that builders should meet when designing and constructing a property. These are basically created to ensure the security and safety of the users as well as their property.

Some things you can do to ensure your design is compliant with local building codes include:

  • Using appropriate materials for construction and systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVACs
  • Ensuring that stairways, ramps, and elevators meet safety requirements
  • Planning for safety devices, such as emergency lights, fire alarms, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers, according to local codes and guidelines
  • Providing compliant sanitation and restroom facilities
  • Obtaining all necessary permits and inspections from the local building department
  • Working with a qualified architect or engineer to ensure all plans and specifications are up to code

Security is among the most important considerations when designing any building. To ensure the safety of occupants and users, the design process must incorporate elements of security, and this requires careful consideration. By following the best practices outlined above, as well as using the checklists provided, architects and designers can create a secure building that will best ensure the safety of users and occupants.


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