Think an empty building doesn’t need maintenance or security? Think again. Unoccupied buildings tend to be more susceptible to damage and criminal activity than those filled with expensive equipment. If your property will be vacant, whether long or short term, you should secure it as soon as possible.
Main Risks For Empty Buildings
We all know that weather can cause significant damage relatively quickly, especially for buildings in areas known for inclement weather. Damage to the exterior, including the roof and windows, can also make its way inside to cause further problems.
If you leave equipment or anything of value in an unsecured building, you run a high risk of theft. Even if you’ve emptied the property, thieves may still enter and steal valuable construction materials (ex. copper pines or wires).
Even though you may have cleared out your property, you are still at risk for vandalism. Vandals may trash your property by leaving waste, breaking things, and covering walls in graffiti.
This covers a number of threats, which include squatting and illicit activities.
How To Secure Your Vacant Property
Before vacating a property, be sure that all windows and doors are properly closed and locked. Look for gaps or damage to the frames that may allow wind, rain, or intruders to get in.
If you plan on leaving for an extended period of time, you should consider investing in stronger methods of securing doors and windows. While traditional wood boarding may be cost-effective, these have also added to the blaze of an arson attack. Investing in a metal alternative may be a better choice. You may also want to consider steel security doors which make it impossible to access your building without special equipment.
Any loose objects can be stolen, used to gain entry, or used as a weapon. For example, bins, palettes and spare construction materials can quickly turn into projectiles in the wrong hands, or can be picked up by high winds in a storm. Be sure to store large objects indoors or out of sight.
Landscaping may be an afterthought, but can make a difference. You should keep pathways clear of debris, such as snow and ice in the winter, and trim grass and hedges to deter vermin from inhabiting your yard. Landscaping also makes it appear that the premise is occupied, making it less of a target.
A security alarm is a necessity. A security alarm system can deter intruders, and, if linked to the local police, can elicit immediate response to any incidents. If you vacate your building, be sure to check your system regularly to ensure that it is functioning properly. If your system is managed by a third party, be sure to inform them of your absence.
Because a fire, whether intentional or accidental, is always possible, you should also maintain your fire alarm and sprinkler system. Be sure that pipes and sensors remain functional.
While dummy cameras can be a reasonable deterrent for those on a budget, operational security cameras may be a better investment. If you plan on leaving your property vacant for a longer period, you may want a real security camera to record any trespassers or criminal activity that occurs while you’re gone.
It may behoove you to make your property physically harder to access, especially if you have open spaces. Fencing and gates with proper locks and concrete barriers are effective ways to keep intruders out.
If you will be storing valuable equipment and materials on site during your absence, you may want to hire professional guard control or even guard dogs and handlers. You can schedule the guard to check on your building at random times to keep trespassers away and to report any unusual activity.
If a building is scheduled for future renovation or demolition, registering your building for a guardianship scheme could be a more cost-effective solution. While you won’t be able to freely access your building when the guards are there, but it will safeguard against trespassers and squatters.
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