When you’re ready to build your dream house from the ground up, you’ll want to make decisions that create strong foundations for the future. In the early stages of the project, you may spend time selecting the perfect location, choosing the right architect, and planning the style and design of your new home. While most homeowners only start thinking about protecting their homes after completing construction, it can be easier to plan for safety before you break ground.
Acting early is the key in helping to safeguard a home and protect the homeowner and their family. For example, if a home is situated far from a fire hydrant, it might make sense to install a water tank on the property. However, that can be quite disruptive after the residential construction is completed.
Are you asking yourself which factors you should consider to help create a safer home with less stress? We recommend that you take these 10 major factors into account during the planning process to help maximize the safety and security of your custom home:
- Location: If you live in an area prone to natural disasters (hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes) or freezing temperatures, there are precise recommendations to maximize and lessen the chance of related damage. Encourage your builder to go beyond standard building codes when additional safety measures can be employed.
- Family safety: Install a residential fire sprinkler system to protect your family and possessions.
- Security: Go beyond fire and burglar alarms and consider a home-monitoring system or interior/exterior surveillance cameras. If you employ household staff, assign individual alarm codes to all employees to monitor their activity.
- Building materials: Consider pre-treated wood products that are fire-resistant and protect the home from fungal and insect infestation. You can elect to incorporate more energy-efficient and environmentally conscious design options on the market today, such as geothermal heating/cooling (renewable energy stored within the earth to heat and cool the home).
- Household water damage: Plumbing leaks are the leading cause of home insurance claims, not to mention a major frustration. Consider installing a whole-house automatic water shut-off system, which can be programmed to monitor personal water use patterns and be easily integrated into a security system.
- External flooding: Your builder can install engineered openings called “smart vents”, in the foundation and breakaway walls. Another consideration is using free board to raise your home above the predicted flood elevations for your area.
- Wind damage: Even if you live elsewhere, consider using products that meet the strict Miami-Dade, Florida specifications for exterior glass (windows and doors) and shutters. You can also install impact-rated entry and garage doors.
- Gas leaks: Earthquakes are occurring more frequently and can impact unexpected areas. A gas shut-off valve will automatically shut off your home’s gas supply in the event of a 5.4 or greater earthquake.
- Lightning: You never know where lightning will strike. Lightning rods help protect against fire and damage to increasingly sophisticated electronic systems.
- Valuables and art: Build a safe into the framework of your home that is U.L.-listed and fire-rated for at least two hours. If you plan to display art, choose windows with ultraviolet filters.