By Brian in Roseville, CA on 4/20/2007
We are building in a rural subdivision with about 50 lots all of a couple of acres. It is wooded and hilly, so building sites tend to be obscured from plain view. Everyone who has built ahead of us has had theft problems -- some rather substantial. As more homes are built in the neighborhood, the problem seems to be getting a little better. The thieves aren't quite as bold with some occupied houses around. We also established a Neighborhood Watch program and posted signs as soon as we had some occupied homes in the area. That said, I have thought a lot about security concerns and have a few strategies to share.
First, we are building a barn/workshop with studio apartment to live in while we build the house later. So at least we will be on site for the actual housebuilding.
I have a flatbed trailer, 14K GVWR, that I will haul construction materials around on. Things like rebar and form lumber I will pull off the trailer as needed and all of that comes home with me every night. Tempting items like generators, compressors, etc. will not be left on the job site at all. We've had chains and cables cut to get such items.
Anything that remains on site will get a marking with some bright color of spray paint. A neighbor had a full unit of OSB stolen and it supposedly was recovered in part due to the paint marking on it making it somewhat identifiable. Some thieves at least may be reluctant to steal material with identifying markings.
I have installed substantial posts with cable across my driveway access. They will have to work a little harder to get their vehicle to where the material is.
This one depends on where you boot up on gun issues... but I have a concealed weapons permit to legally carry a loaded gun in my vehicle or on my person. We did have a case in my county about two years ago where some thieves attempted to run down a property owner with their truck. The owner happened to be armed and is probably alive today because he shot and killed the driver. Shooting someone, however legal and justified the circumstance, is a nightmare that I would never want to have. But it could be better than the alternative.
Armed or not, think a little ahead of time what you would do if you roll up on your job site to find some people that don't belong there helping themselves to your material. Myself, I would rather have them just take the material than to have a firearms incident. But that depends on how they react to you showing up. If you are building in a rural/remote area, you need to keep in mind that a different set of stay safe "rules" may apply.
Once I have power and internet up and running in an enclosed shell, I will install a combination of fake and real webcams and post some signs to bring attention to the fact of "video surveillance in use". There are some really good webcams out there with excellent remote monitoring capabilities.
I've also looked at some of the construction site security products like those from DEWALT. But it is an expensive system and requires good cell phone access (which is rather "iffy" at my job site).