The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that 1,117,696 burglaries occurred in 2019. These burglaries account for 16.1% of the property crimes that were recorded in the United States for that year and 62.8% of them happened to residential properties. Home security systems serve as deterrents to these types of illegal activities. A research study undertaken by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that 60% of burglars will seek an alternative target if they discover a home security system installed in a residence before they begin attempting a burglary. Amongst the burglars that have already begun the burglary before discovering a home security system, only about 13% always continue with the burglary attempt.
Many home security systems also include smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, which serve to alert the homeowner in the event of a fire and also trigger fire sprinklers. According to the National Fire Protection Association, homes with working smoke alarms had a death rate of 5.7 deaths per 1,000 home fires reported from 2012 - 2016. This is less than half of the death rate reported amongst homes that did not have a working smoke alarm.
These figures serve to highlight the importance of having a properly installed home security system by a professional near you. Hiring a professional home security system contractor ensures that your home security system installation or modification is done in line with industry codes and standards. To make sure that the home security system contractor nearby you intend to hire is qualified for the job, you should ask the following questions:
Are You a Licensed Home Security System Contractor?
Home security system contractors are generally required to obtain a professional license before they can install or modify home security systems. The requirements for obtaining a home security system contractor's license varies by state, but it usually involves passing an examination and a background check. New York requires home security system contractors to complete at least 81 hours of qualifying state-approved education and have no disqualifying criminal convictions.
In California, home security system contractors must be at least 18 years old and pass a California Department of Justice and a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal history background check. Home security system contractors in Michigan must be at least 21 years old and have no felony convictions while those in Maryland must not be younger than 18 and have a good moral character, reputation, and qualification. In some states like Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, and Kansas, home security system contractor licenses are not issued at a state level. However, counties, cities, towns, and other municipalities in these states typically have local home security system contractor licensing requirements.
You can contact your local consumer protection agency to find out the home security system contractor licensing requirements for your state of residence. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies also maintains an online portal that you can use to verify contractors' licenses.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Home Security System Contractor?
Data published by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that 630 nonfatal occupational illnesses and injuries were reported amongst security and fire alarm systems installers in 2019. Insurance and bonding are forms of financial protection that insulate you from work-related liabilities. When your home security system contractor is properly insured, you are protected from any financial liabilities if an on-the-job accident or injury occurs. Likewise, bonding protects you if the contractor defaults on your home security system installation or modification for any reason.
Never hire any home security system contractor near you without confirming the contractor's insurance and bonding status. You can do this by requesting copies of their insurance and bonding certificates. Contractors are generally required to have workers' compensation and general liability insurance coverage. The minimum limits for insurance and bonding vary by state, therefore it is advisable that you contact your local consumer protection agency to find out whether your home security system contractor meets these requirements. You can also verify the contractor's insurance and bonding status by contacting the organizations that issued the certificates.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
This question helps you select a home security system contractor that is skilled enough to install your preferred type of home security system or modify one that you already have. Home security systems can be grouped into the following categories:
- Monitored Home Security Systems: These systems can be self-monitored or company-monitored. They work by alerting you, an emergency responder, a call center, or a security team whenever an anomaly like a fire or a break-in is detected. These systems provide you with real-time updates on the status of your home. However, they may be susceptible to power outages.
- Unmonitored Home Security Systems: These systems consist of components like motion sensors, smoke detectors, door, and window sensors, and they work by setting off a deafening siren whenever any of these alarms are triggered. Unmonitored home security systems are generally cheaper than other types of home security systems.
- Wired Home Security Systems: in these systems, the components of the home security system are connected to a main control panel via low-voltage wiring. These types of systems are less prone to hacking because they are hardwired into the home. However, they are also expensive to install and difficult to uninstall
- Wireless Home Security Systems: These systems are similar to wired home security systems. However, the components of the home security system are not hardwired to a main control panel. Instead, they are connected by a series of sensors and built-in radio frequency transmitters. Wireless home security systems are easy to install and uninstall, but they are vulnerable to interference and prone to hacking.
Always find out the type of system a home security system contractor is skilled at installing or modifying. Note that even though home security systems can be broadly categorized into the aforementioned groups, there are various brands of these systems available. As such, it is also a good idea to find out whether the home security system contractor nearby you intend to hire specializes in a particular brand of home security systems.
Who Will Do the Work?
Home security system installations and modifications are sensitive projects that affect your security as well as that of the occupants of your home. As such, you should always make sure that your home security system contractor provides you with adequate information on every person that will be involved in the project. This should include their names and qualifications. Always ask for these details, and make sure that you are also duly informed if any part of the job will be subcontracted. You should also make sure that every worker and subcontractor involved in the installation or modification of your home security system is properly licensed, bonded, and insured.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
Any professional home security system contractors near you will offer a product warranty that covers the components of the home security system, and a labor warranty that covers the installation or modification of the system itself.
You should always find out whether you will be offered a warranty, and what the terms and conditions of the warranty will be, before you hire a home security system contractor. Even though warranties can be implied or oral, it is advisable to ask for one that is written.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Before you begin some home improvement projects, you are required to obtain a permit from a local government agency. These types of projects usually include Installing a home security system. Note that the specific requirements for obtaining these permits vary by location. For example, the cities of San Antonio, Texas, Los Angeles, California, and Albany, Oregon all issue mandatory alarm permits and charge fees for obtaining them. However, although alarm permits are also mandatory in the City of Norfolk, Virginia, they are free of charge. The City of Seattle, Washington does not require homeowners to obtain alarm permits, while in the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan you are only required to obtain an alarm permit if you are a resident of the city.
Before installing a home security system, you should contact the local police department near you to find out whether any permits will be required for the installation. This is because, even though professional home security system contractors generally tend to know the requirements for obtaining any necessary permits, it is always a good idea for you to have this information too.
Will You Provide References?
Per the Federal Trade Commission's recommendations, you should always request the names and contact details of at least three clients that a home security system contractor has completed new installations or modifications for before you hire the contractor. You can also independently get references and reviews on a home security system contractor through third-party websites like Better Business Bureau and Google Review. Note, you will find reviews from clients near you on these websites on any contractor you want to hire.
Do You Have a Business License?
A business license is a government-issued license that authorizes a business entity to conduct operations in an area. The United States has approximately 30.7 million registered small businesses and many home security system contracting businesses are included in this number. Make sure that a home security system contractor is authorized to conduct business in your locality by requesting a copy of the contractor's business license. You can verify the authenticity of a contractor's business license by contacting the Office of the Secretary of State for your state of residence.
What Are Common Home Security System Problems?
Some common problems that home security systems have are:
- False alarms
- Battery failure
- Limited area of surveillance
- Vulnerability to hackers
- Password breaches
- The security system fails to alarm or disarm
- Improperly calibrated sensors
- Incompatible security system products and components
- Incorrect programming
These problems can be resolved or completely avoided by hiring a professional home security system contractor to either modify your home security system or install a new one.
How Much Does a Home Security System Cost?
Installing a home security system will cost you an average of $300 - $1,500. This amount typically includes the cost of a basic home security system starter kit which usually contains a central control panel, two or three door and window sensors, a siren, and a motion detector. Installation fees alone cost between $100 - $400. Depending on the type of system you wish to install and the number of add-ons you include, the total cost of installing a home security system can go as high as $4,000.
The cost estimates for some common home security system components are listed below:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of a Home Security System?
The cost of installing a home security system is dependent on the following factors:
Installing a home security system that completely surveils your home and its surroundings will require additional components, and therefore cost more than installing a basic home security system. Likewise, the bigger your home, the more home security system components you will need to install. The type of system you wish to install also affects the cost of a home security system. Wired home security systems are generally tougher to install than unwired systems, while monitored home security systems require monthly monitoring service fees.
What Qualifications Should Home Security System Contractors Have?
According to the Bureau of Labor, as of 2019, there are approximately 71,600 employed security and fire alarm system installers in the United States. Individuals that wish to become home security system contractors are typically required to have a minimum educational qualification of a high school degree or its equivalent. Many states also require these individuals to pass criminal history background checks before they can become licensed home security system contractors. Finally, home security system contractors can obtain certifications from professional bodies and associations like the Electronic Security Association, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Electronics Technicians Association.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Home Security System Contractor?
Home security systems should always be installed or modified by qualified home security system contractors rather than any handyman near you. These contractors have been licensed by appropriate governmental agencies to perform these types of jobs, while handymen do not have the necessary licenses or qualifications to do so. Also, professional home security system contractors are usually bonded and insured. This protects you financially from any liabilities that may arise from work-related injuries and incomplete jobs. Note that you should always verify a home security system contractor's professional and business licenses as well as the contractor's bonding and insurance status.
What Are the Common Post Home Security System Expenses?
Incurring post home security system installation or modification expenses usually depends on the type of system that you install. Installing a company-monitored home security system will cost you an additional $15 - $60 per month in monitoring fees while installing a wired home monitoring system in a finished home can cost you an extra $60 - $100 to repair any damaged drywall.
Replacing worn-out components of your home security system is another common post home security system expense. In many cases, this usually involves changing the batteries in your smoke alarm. It is estimated that dead batteries caused 25% of the smoke alarm failures in fires that occurred from 2012 â€“ 2016 in the United States. Replacing a smoke alarm battery can cost you $5 - $25.
Finally, including add-ons that are not usually included in basic home security system installation packages will cost you extra. An example is including a panic button that lets you alert the police or a security company of a potential threat if you cannot reach your security system's control panel. Adding a panic button to your home security system will cost you about $25 - $40. Similarly including a fire sprinkler system to your home security system can cost you from $0.50 - $5 per square foot of the sprinkler system installed.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Home Security System Expenses?
Yes. In fact, many insurance companies offer discounts on insurance premiums to homeowners that have a home security system installed in their homes. It is estimated that an average of 1.6% of the homeowners' insurance claims filed from 2014 â€“ 2018 was caused by theft. You should contact your insurance company to find out whether they offer home security system discounts and the exact amount of the discount.
Note that a standard homeowners' insurance policy does not typically cover the initial installation costs for your home security system. However, if your home security system is damaged by a peril that is covered in the policy, then it is likely that your homeowner's insurance policy will cover the cost of replacing it.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Home Security System Contractor?
Like most small businesses in the United States, many home security system contractors near you would accept digital payments. However, it is always a good idea to inform your contractor before doing so. This is because, even though digital payments are generally considered to be faster, more secure, and more convenient, some contractors still prefer traditional methods of payment like cash and check transactions. If your home security system contractor prefers cash payments, you should always ask for receipts to enable you properly document these transactions.