Choosing the right products for period property renovation is key to success

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KEEPING period properties secure can be a tricky business, especially if you don’t want to damage any of their period features. It is vital to bring properties up to date with security measures while making sure features are sympathetic to the character of your home.

Here, Justin Freeman, technical manager of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession – says choosing the right products is crucial.

You’ve found a beautiful property and carefully planned how you’re going to transform it into a dream home. Ensuring your security system is just right is as important as your choice of interiors features and soft furnishings.

Security shouldn’t be an afterthought as it should be planned in right from the outset of any renovation, especially with electronic security, such as alarms, CCTV and security lighting, where cables will need to be laid and available in the correct locations.

Tailor-made solutions are essential, as certain elements of your property may well not have the capabilities to meet modern security standards and extra care will need to be taken.

The introduction of any security has to be sympathetic so it is in-keeping with the look of the property. MLA-approved locksmiths have a source of unusual but secure locks that will look aesthetically pleasing, fit in with a period property and provide an adequate level of security.

It is not always necessary to replace old-fashioned locks as, in a lot of cases, they can be restored.

An MLA locksmith can also make new security features look discreet and tasteful so your home is safe without destroying the look of the property.

Period properties will most likely have traditional doors, which may be impossible to “retro-certify” to meet the level of security necessary today. However, there are methods available to improve and maintain safety. It is advisable that external doors have British Standard five lever mortice locks or in the case of a cylinder lock use a Sold Secure Diamond Approved cylinder. An MLA-approved locksmith can provide an in-depth and customised analysis. They may also be able to restore some of the old locks on the property while adding additional modern security in an unobtrusive manner to make sure your insurance is valid.

By using a Euro Cylinder Lock, you can set the configuration to be the same in all locks, using the same key. With Half Cylinders, the same key can be used in some occasions for both the door locks and padlocks. Keying all your locks alike provides the maximum convenience, avoiding confusion with multiple keys.

It is important to ensure that ground floor and any other accessible windows have key operated locks fitted, and a period-style glazed front door can be protected by affixing a gate or grill and using the door itself as a secondary security measure.

For any of these sorts of modifications however, it’s vital for the owner to be aware of any planning permission requirements or listed status.  An MLA locksmith can help an owner who may have planning restrictions by specifying locks and other security products that meet restrictions, and will be able to seek advice as to what is acceptable on unusual buildings.

If you put a modern lock on an old, traditional period-style door, it will look out of place, but an expert locksmith can mortice a lock discreetly to make a building more secure, while also looking pleasing on the eye.

Secondary security like alarms and CCTV are also worth considering and it is possible to introduce sympathetic security upgrade without damaging the property by fitting them in discreet places.

You may also want to consider installing a safe inside your property to keep valuable items and documents secure. Owing to the size and weight of safes, and with the need for them to be professionally installed, it is worth thinking about the location from the outset. Getting in touch with your local locksmith to specify, supply and fit the item reduces complications later down the line.

It is important to ensure that the correct security precautions are being taken, and that the appropriate hardware will be installed. Undertaking a security assessment by an MLA-approved locksmith mitigates these risks.

Home security isn’t only about safeguarding your home. Assessing outbuildings like sheds and garages is also important because they often provide storage for high value items such as vehicles, bicycles and gardening equipment, as well as tools that could be used to break into your home.

It’s also important not to be tempted to economise when protecting outbuildings. Rather than purchase cheap locks, it is well worth investing in high quality locks and padlocks, making sure that you use products that have been approved by an independent product testing house – we recommend the use of Sold Secure-approved products, providing you with peace of mind. Your local MLA locksmith will be able to supply these for you.

View www.locksmiths.co.uk. Security guidelines for domestic properties can also be downloaded free of charge from http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/security-advice/security-guidelines-for-domestic-dwellings/.

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