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Expensive tools and supplies are often stored in buildings under renovation. The combination of an empty building, signs of renovation (such as a roll-off dumpster) and things of value stored inside can make your project a tempting targets for thieves. Additionally, some buildings in poor physical condition may be in danger of further deterioration unless effort is made immediately to deal with water infiltration or other structural damage.
Accordingly, the first thing you want to do after purchasing a vacant home or building is to secure it from weather and thieves. Depending on the condition of the building you purchased, securing it can be a significant component of the project and can include the following:
- Structural stabilization – If the building has sustained fire or water damage, assess the stability of the structure. Stabilization may consist of building temporary interior walls to support damaged floor joists or rebuilding exterior brick walls that are bowing out. If you are unsure of the structural condition, seek the advice of an engineer.
- Keeping out the elements – Water is the enemy of renovation. Secure heavy-grade plastic over roof leaks and board up broken windows/doors.
- Security – Go directly from closing to the building and change the locks. You have no way of know who has keys to your new property, and you are now responsible for it.
- Make the property less desirable – The dumpster out front and the permit in the window will let everyone know that the property is under construction. Remove and store elements that may attract thieves such as mantles, light fixtures and appliances you want to retain. Do not store valuable tools on the premises. Make a show each evening of removing your tools. If you have electric power available, you may want to consider having an alarm company install a temporary alarm to help prevent break-ins.
- Insurance – If your homeowner’s insurance does not cover construction, obtain a temporary rider or separate policy to cover any catastrophic loss.
As part of the securing process, if the building does not have electric service, contract with an electrician to install either temporary service or upgrade the service and install a “construction” outlet on the breaker box. Having electricity available will allow for easier construction work as well as the installation of a temporary security system.