When you buy a newly built home in an established community or a neighborhood that’s under construction, you’re gaining the advantage of everything in the home being new. Not only are you the first to use the oven and the shower, but all the locks on the doors and windows have been installed just for you. No one else has a key or a code that works for your front door, your garage remote or your backdoor.
While that newness offers a powerful measure of security and eliminates the need to change the locks, every homeowner should still take a few steps to protect their home and their possessions. In most cases, you won’t need to worry too much about the safety of your family or your home, but it’s always best to be cautious – and it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer of protection to your home in case of an accident or crime.
12 Smart Ways to Safeguard your Home
Depending on the building code requirements in your area and any additional safety measures your builder provides, you may already have some features in your home that preserve your household. Any missing items can easily be added and there are many ways you can increase your own safety at little or no cost.
1. Smoke Alarm
Your builder will have followed the code to install smoke alarms, but you may want to add extras or install battery-operated back-up alarms. Don’t forget to have a fire extinguisher accessible on each level of your home, too.
2. Carbon monoxide detector
Many states require a carbon monoxide detector, but if yours doesn’t, you can easily install one on each floor of your home to alert you of the presence of this odorless, toxic gas. Typically, a carbon monoxide leak comes from a build-up from fumes from an appliance, heating system or fireplace that uses gas, oil coal or wood.
3. Leak detectors
Large water leaks from pipes can cause immediate, severe damage to a room, but slow leaks can also cause mold in your home. A detector can be easily installed in your bathrooms, kitchen or basement that will alert you of moisture.
4. Video doorbell
An easily installed video doorbell system can let you know who’s at your door before you answer. Or if you are away, you can still remotely monitor your home.
5. Security System
A monitored security system may not be in everyone’s budget, but it will provide extra peace of mind. An automated system will contact the police or fire department if you don’t respond appropriately to an alarm.
6. Meet Your Neighbors
One of the best ways to protect your home is to have your neighbors keep watch – and you can reciprocate to support each other. Let your neighbors know if you’ll be away so they can be especially vigilant.
7. Monitor Typical Activity on Your Street
While you don’t want to be the nosy neighbor who knows everyone’s business, it is smart to know what your neighbors’ cars look like, their normal patterns of coming and going and how typical it is to see contractor’s trucks or construction on your street. That way, if unusual activity occurs, you’ll be more aware of a potential problem.
8. Join Nextdoor
This website digitally connects you and your neighbors so you can share information, plan events and more. You’ll be able to alert each other of any current issues with crime or vandalism in the area, too.
Strategic use of outdoor lighting can keep your house safer. Whether you opt for lights that turn on automatically when someone approaches any side of your house – or you keep exterior lights on when its dark – lighting may deter someone from entering your home.
Keeping your shrubs trimmed and planting thick ones farther from the house eliminates a possible protected area for someone to hide as they approach your windows or doors.
11. Vacation Prep
Besides alerting your neighbors when you’re away, you can also take steps to make it less obvious that no one is home. Have your mail held or picked up by a neighbor or friend and make sure someone is watching for package deliveries, too. Set your lights on a timer system so your house isn’t completely dark. If you’re away in the winter, ask someone to shovel your snow. If you’re away in the summer, you may want to arrange to have your lawn cut regularly.
12. Semi-Annual Check-Up
An occasional tour of your home to check for maintenance needs is a great way to keep you and your family safe. The seasonal reminders to check or change your smoke detector batteries when the time changes can also serve as reminders to test your window and door locks. Also remember to check your garage door to make sure it’s secure and verify that your outdoor lights are working properly.
While chances are good that you’ll never encounter any of these potential problems, why not take a few minutes to add an extra layer of comfort for you and your family? Protecting the home and household where you’ve invested love, time and money can be relatively simple.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.