When Should You Board Up Your Property?
Whether your property’s commercial or residential, in use or not, unfortunate incidences arise which make boarding up for security and safety reasons essential.
The UK’s primary go-to boarding up options, timber boards and steel screens, can both be ideal when you need the benefit of board up security, particularly when you need to:
#1: Secure a property after criminal activity
Any access point on a property is vulnerable to opportunist criminals – especially an access point that’s already been tampered with. Criminals such as burglars often re-target the same properties if they’ve had early success: it’s not uncommon for them to break in through a window or force a door to gain entry, make off with whatever they can carry, only to return later. Not securing the access point can make it easier for them to return and regain entry to finish off the job.
Securing a property, even after an incident of break-in or vandalism, is still a preventative measure because it stops the matter from becoming any worse. After all, leaving a broken window uncovered can also be a signal for other antisocial behaviours, such as attempted vandalism, trespass and even squatting.
Proactive boarding up after a break-in can even make a difference to insurers, as many will only pay out in the event of forced entry: if another opportunist criminal walks in because a broken window allowed access, then you could have more trouble securing an insurance payout than would have been involved in securing the property!
As such, emergency boarding up provides not only a visible deterrent to other criminals, but also creates a physical barrier which prevents further break-in or trespass, particularly as both steel and timber boards can be installed using anti-tamper screws.
If the property’s been more extensively damaged by criminal activity, such as arson or vandalism, then options of either timber boarding up from the outside, or steel screens which can be installed from the inside, mean that boarding up’s possible, whatever the type or extent of damage.
Timber boards are commonly used for emergency boarding up, while Sitex steel security screens offer perforations which allow light through, ideal for facilitating inspection visits from insurers or repair contractors.
#2: Protect against extreme weather
With global environmental events impacting on local climates, almost any season can now bring storms across the UK. Extreme weather can make properties vulnerable, particularly where:
- A property’s already in a state of disrepair, like awaiting refurbishment.
- The location offers additional risk from extreme weather, such as in a high-wind location or on a floodplain.
- The property’s likely to be vacant over a period of time, when weather damage might have a wider damaging effect due to not being noticed immediately.
Boarding up to secure your property against the effects of the weather can be a very proactive step in preventing problems:
- Timber boarding can be effective, particularly in an emergency or short term.
- Solid steel barriers can be highly durable against extreme winds and can also be used to secure garage doors, as properties can sustain considerable structural damage through wind entering the property this way.
It’s also worth noting that if storm damage through flooding is a particular concern in the property’s location, deploying flood prevention barriers can offer additional protection.
#3: Prevent problems with a vacant property
As mentioned, vacant properties have their vulnerabilities, not least because there’s no one on site or indoors to realise there’s a problem and respond quickly. This means even small problems may worsen very quickly, including the effects of storm damage, intruders to the property, the spread of fire and the dumping of rubbish. However, boarding up can help by preventing:
- Access to and misuse of land: fly-tipping is on the rise in the UK – up 7% more in the year April 16 – March 17, the fourth year of increase in a row. Many property and landowners don’t realise that they’ll be liable for the cleanup costs when fly-tippers gain access and dump rubbish on private property (as reported by the BBC, Oct 2017)
- Vandalism and arson: both of these crimes are prevalent in empty properties and can be extremely costly to property owners. However, steel screens can be used to prevent both arson and vandalism.
- Squatters: squatting in UK residential property is illegal but although the process for removing squatters is now easier than before, it’s still a lengthy, costly process for property owners. Squatting can be even more of concern for commercial property owners, now a prime target because squatting is not yet illegal in the commercial property sector. Overall, it can cost far less to install boards or screens to prevent trespassers, intruders and potential squatters from getting in, than to evict them once they’re in occupation.
Both timber and steel screens can be installed without damaging the property, ideal for short-term vacancies between tenants – a prime time for squatters to move in.
If the property is vacant because it’s in a state of disrepair or while awaiting planning consent for renovations or refurbishments, then steel screens also have the advantage of being installed internally, so any damage to the outside won’t affect the boarding up. Often, properties sold at Auction are boarded up.
#4: Prevent damage during an event
The events industry is growing, and many local areas are now making the most of open-air events such as carnivals, processions and festivals to attract visitors and generate a boost to the local economy. Although this is great for businesses and for the visitors who enjoy the events, it can be a real headache (at the very least) and even a real nuisance involving expensive cleanups for homeowners – including incidences of hazardous waste following incidences of urination and defecation in gardens.
An example of how boarding up can help prevent problems is through the action of locals to the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival. Local businesses board up their premises over the period of the carnival while numerous neighbouring homeowners fence off access points or board up the properties as a way of preventing costly repairs or unwanted trespass including picnics and defecation in their gardens!
That’s when, so what doors and windows etc, should I board up?
Knowing when to board up is always helpful, but knowing where and how will ensure you make the most of your board up options.
For where, consider all access points, including (but not limited to):
- Doors, including garage, basement and casement doors.
- Windows, including skylights and casements.
- Gateways, including entryways on property boundaries.
And how, what boarding should I use?
So you know when and where to board up, but which method would be best for your property? While both timber and steel screens have properties which make them ideal in many situations, it’s useful to know which might offer best-fit for your purpose – and property:
- Timber boarding up screens – quick to install in emergencies, such as after a break-in, storm or fire damage; easily custom cut to fit windows and to secure doors. Timber provides complete physical barriers across boundaries and perimeters, to prevent misuse or illegal occupation of land. Ideal for short-term and temporary use.
- Solid steel – particularly resistant to arson-attack, complete screening for double protection – highly visible deterrent and making a property less attractive to squatters, as will allow no natural light into the property. Ideal for completely closing up a property in the long-term.
- Sitex steel – resistant to arson attack but with perforations allowing light and ventilation. Sitex can be fitted from the inside so there’s no external damage to the property. Good for both short and long-term use.
For more details about the differences between timber boards and steel screens try SafeSite Security Solution’s Knowledge Base. And remember, boarding up is also seen as proactive in protecting your property, something which many insurers favour.