Construction Corner is a Q&A column committed to answering reader-submitted questions regarding construction and development. Inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: My retail office has large glass windows, and I am very concerned about vandalism. What do you feel would be the best way to secure my office?
—MICHAEL IN FONTANA, CALIF.
A: Large plate windows in an office are difficult to protect because you need to have the office on the outside of the perimeter fencing and gate. Rarely do huge bars on the windows entice prospective tenants to rent at your facility. Since there isn’t much you can do on the prevention side, let’s talk about securing your office if a break-in does occur.
The most popular options are glass-break detectors and motion sensors. Glass-break detectors use the acoustics of the breaking glass to signal an alarm. Motion detectors use infrared to detect motion and heat in the office. Both can be used to signal a local siren, klaxon and/or an offsite monitoring station. Also make sure to install a good video-surveillance system with cameras in and outside of the office. Cameras have the added benefit of creating a visual deterrent too.
Q: Building codes required us to install stairwells in our three-story building, but we would prefer tenants not use them unless there is an actual emergency. What do you recommend?
—SHELLY IN PLANO, TEXAS
A: Sometimes, all it takes is a simple sign stating an alarm will sound if the door is opened; other times, the actual alarm is required. There are a couple of ways to go about this. One is to install a panic bar on each floor with an integrated alarm siren. This is an effective, but costly way to do it.
Another way depends on your existing site security. High-tech security systems that offer individual door security can often tie-in stairwell doors to their systems. All that is required is a door contact and a wire run to the office or, if you have a wireless system, it is as simple as installing a sensor on the stairwell door. This way also allows for logging of all stairwell activity.
Tony Gardner is a licensed contractor and installation manager for QuikStor, a provider of self-storage security and software since 1987. For more information, visit www.quikstor.com.