What You Need to Do to Secure Your Multifamily Construction Project

Posted by Pearson Brock on April 24, 2020

The next time you prepare to start a multifamily construction project, how will you secure the building? Do you have a process in place for integrating security, or do you leave it up to the client to add it to their requirements? Maybe it’s resolved later after the project is finished.

You'll be doing your clients a favor when you include security in your design process. It's not something that's an afterthought. Besides, it costs more to add something later in the building process. In the long run, it's more cost-effective to integrate security in multifamily construction projects. You'll also differentiate your company from other construction companies who may not think about security from a project's start.

The Need to Add Security to Multifamily Construction Projects

National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has found that apartments and condos are 85 percent more likely to be burglarized than single-family homes. They're at a greater risk for burglary because apartments feel like public places. No one knows everyone. Thieves and burglars take advantage of this.

They can walk into the building right behind residents. This is called piggybacking. Some people refer to it as tailgating, but that's not the same thing. Tailgating is when someone sees a door that's open and sees it as an opportunity to enter the building.

In 2018, almost 700,000 burglaries occurred in residences as seen in the FBI's Crime in the United States analysis. Residential properties account for more than 65 percent of all burglary offenses. The FBI states the average victim of burglary has $2,416 worth of items stolen. That's a large amount for people living in a multifamily residence.

Your multifamily construction project may contain a locked door, but this won't always stop burglaries. More than half of burglaries involved forced entry while more than one-third were unlawful entries.

If your client wants the most effective security solution, they'll need one with multiple layers. It will help increase operational income, cut risk and liability, and make their building more marketable.

Apartments aren't just for people in their 20s anymore. A Freddie Mac Survey shows that 5 million Baby Boomers plan to rent by this year. They want fewer responsibilities of maintaining a home.

Many multifamily properties target Baby Boomers, Gen X, and the millennials. They all want apartment security. National Apartment Association notes that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers seek places that have video surveillance and security systems. The same goes for Gen Y as research from Schlage and Wakefield Research shows more than 60 percent desire more security.

7 Steps for Securing Your Multifamily Construction Project

The numbers justify the need for a multilayer security solution. Here's what you need to do to slot-in security into your multifamily construction projects.

1. Add Security Early in the Design Process

Security enters the picture as soon as you start reviewing the requirements for the building. The project most likely contains parking lots and landscaping. Why parking lots and garages? FBI Crime Data Explorer lists parking lots as the No. 3 location for violent crime in 2017. You can help prevent many of the problems by proactively designing for better parking lot security. It's hard to make structural changes after the project ends. That's why it belongs in the design process.

Landscape design is another factor that affects security. In making their landscaping look good, some multifamily properties end up giving intruders a place to hide or access the building without being seen. The security requirements will address all entrances and exits, shared spaces like the laundry and fitness rooms, stairways, and elevators.

2. Hire a security expert

If possible, hire a security expert with experience in multifamily projects. You want to have the right security for the project. Every building is different. A security consultant optimizes security for each unique building. Look for someone who has credentials such as Certified Security Consultant (CSC), Certified Protection Professional, or Physical Security Professional.

3. Begin with a Security Risk Assessment

Check out the crime data for the neighborhood where the building will stand. The FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) has an interactive map with data from local police departments. It shows the crime rate and the types of crime that affect the neighborhood.

4. Create a Security Plan

The security plan outlines the layout of the property for identifying potential perimeter security solutions. This provides a visual guide of possible vulnerable areas. The plan describes security for the interior and exterior. It covers the process of educating employees and residents on security.

You can implement all the right security, but it only takes one person to let a non-resident piggyback into the building to bring security down. Security can't do its job without people and processes. It's important to identify the role of the employee responsible for overseeing the security of the property.

If the facility has remote video surveillance, then that employee is the contact point whenever something suspicious comes up. The employee is also in charge of making sure tenants and staff receive security training. The point of this is to have someone take ownership of security-related roles and tasks. The person can delegate as needed.

5. Limit the Number of Entrances

The more entrances and exits you have, the harder it will be to secure the building. The goal is to limit the number of entry points while following fire codes. For entryways, ensure they're well-lit and monitored. As you design entry points, consider how visitors, vendors, and parcel delivery will enter the building. You want few barriers for visitors, but without a free-for-all.

6. Design a Multilayered Security Program

Security is not a project. It's a program. That means it's not one-and-done. When you treat security as a program, it's part of the multifamily building's DNA and processes. Security will evolve as new technologies come out and the neighborhood's dynamics change. Training employees and tenants is essential to its success.

7. Include Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) means designing a physical environment with security in mind. CPTED minimizes opportunities for crime while enhancing the quality of life for the tenants and community. Its four principles include natural access control, natural surveillance, territorial reinforcement, and maintenance.

When you drive past a building with a broken window or graffiti on its walls, what impression does it make? Most people will think it's an unsafe environment. Following CPTED principles will maximize security without sacrificing aesthetics.

Technology for Multifamily Residential Buildings

No longer must multifamily buildings depend on security guards for security. Advancements in technology have resulted in the development of more cost-effective security solutions. One option that works well in multifamily residential buildings is remote video monitoring.

For a fraction of the cost of security guards, video surveillance offers broader around-the-clock coverage. Remote video surveillance helps deter crime. A well-designed video surveillance system monitors for suspicious activity while showing tenants that your client cares about their safety.

The important component of this technology is monitoring. When no one watches the cameras, it turns the technology into passive security. Passive security is less likely to avert crime. When no one watches the video cameras, it can give people a false sense of security.

Remote video surveillance helps lower liability. It relies on video analytics and human intelligence to identify and analyze suspicious activity in real-time before crime happens. As soon as the system recognizes something may go down, the monitoring operator can warn the suspect and call the police.

Your client wants to see the property value increase. Video surveillance can help do that. Residents stay longer when they feel secure. The longer they stay, the higher the ROI. They won't spend money on repainting and cleaning up the unit for the next tenant. This technology also provides recorded evidence. Law enforcement can use this to aid investigations and court proceedings.

Monitored video cameras can view more of the property than security guards can. There are areas on the property like the roof where the security guard may not venture. Security cameras can monitor these areas.

Apartment video surveillance does more than deter crime. With more Baby Boomers renting, video cameras can help spot hazards that would be dangerous for people dependent on canes, walkers, or wheelchairs. After spotting hazards and potential problems, the trained operators contact the assigned point of contact. Another advantage operators have over security guards is they're located far from the multifamily property.

Considering security is the top priority for most renters, incorporating a comprehensive security program with video surveillance could multiply the value of the property. It’s not limited to Class A apartments. Properties serving families with low-to-moderate incomes have been able to raise the rent after implementing video surveillance.

Too often, the property manager or the building association will complain about the lack of security after the project is long finished. Fixing it later is far more expensive than including security early. Don't let this happen to you.

To learn more about construction and multifamily residential security, contact us. Our security experts can give you the insights you need to implement a right-sized security solution for your next multifamily construction project. Working with us, you also gain access to security experts with experience in both construction and multifamily residential industries. They'll be able to help you secure your construction site.

Posted in: Crime Prevention, Video Security Systems, Security Tips, Video Monitoring