By Randy Dew and Luke Hannibal
01/07/19 · Last Updated 01/22/19 · 4 minutes to read
Security and access control are must-have features for any large-scale corporate office building. Although building owners, general contractors and architects understand the necessity of security and access control systems for their building, what they might not realize is the importance of involving a security team early in the building design process.
We get why this happens. In the scheme of a massive construction project, security and access control technology systems make up a tiny percentage of the overall budget.
That’s why building security and access control often becomes a “hot potato” project without an owner. It’s not any one person’s responsibility — not the architect, general contractor or electrical contractor. And as a result, when someone finally thinks about security and access control, it is often late enough in the process to actually cause MORE work for everyone involved.
And at first blush, it might not seem that important to include security in the initial building design process. However, this tiny line-item can wreak havoc on a construction project if not handled appropriately.
Top Problems When Security Contractors Aren’t Involved in Building Design
It’s a common scenario – the architect or engineer is pressed for time when designing a building, so he includes specs for door hardware, key card entry systems and other security features from an old bid document. It’s an easy cut and paste solution during the early stages of a building design. However, this quick fix can cause a ripple effect of problems.
If building owners and architects wait too late in the construction process to incorporate security measures, they risk running into the following issues:
- Added cost. When commercial buildings don’t plan for security during design, it will ALWAYS cost more to get a solution in place. There will most likely be change orders to get the proper door hardware for the access control system and added labor costs for cutting into walls or ceilings to get the wiring in place. It might even mean rewiring to get conduit pathways to the security devices. Plus, in many cases, you’ll be forced to use doors and locks that can be fitted into the existing space for a reasonable price, instead of more secure options that require more preparation on the front end of construction.
- Limited technology options. There are some exciting technological advances in security and access control solutions. For instance, one big trend is the inclusion of card readers mounted on the door itself rather than the wall, which offers a cleaner look for businesses. However, when the security contractor is brought in late, your options for card readers or door hardware become more limited.
- Poor aesthetics. When security isn’t involved with building design, a security contractor is forced to retrofit the system within the confines of the building plan. That might mean exposed wires or having to cut and patch walls or ceilings to get wiring in place. While the system will still work, it won’t be nearly as attractive or aesthetically pleasing.
- Construction delays. The later security is brought into the project, the more problems you’ll have with your building timeline. For instance, you can’t fully close up the ceiling until the security team’s wire is installed. And depending on the type of electrified hardware used on the project, your occupancy permits may be delayed pending verification of adherence to egress requirements. Building construction projects always face delays, but this is one setback that could be avoided if security is involved earlier in the project.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can alleviate a lot of these headaches by involving a security team earlier in the process.
Top Benefits to Including Security Contractors in Building Design
Now, let’s take a look at what happens when you consult with a security contractor when you’re in the design phase of your building. For maximum efficiency and impact, we recommend bringing in your security team during the schematic design phase when the building design is approximately 30-40 percent complete.
Here are some of the biggest benefits of this approach:
- More secure facility. When we work with our clients early in the design process, we’re able to help make design decisions that will impact the security of the facility. For instance, we can make recommendations about the best location for camera locations in regard to landscaping as well as data closet infrastructure and elevator control to help improve security. Understanding the security needs before the building is designed can help ensure that decisions are made with an emphasis on safety.
- Better design and aesthetics. Security and access control systems don’t have to be clunky systems with unsightly boxes and wires. For instance, we worked with Lifeway to select beautiful access control turnstiles that matched the building’s decor. But the key is to involve the security team in the design of the building. These systems are only ugly when they are an afterthought to the building’s design.
- Customized solutions and better technology. When we understand the building owner’s goals for security, we can help design a layout and select hardware that reflects the needs of the building and its tenants. You’ll also have more options for locking hardware, card readers, entry turnstiles, video cameras and everything in between.
- More seamless experience. A security system that’s integrated into the design of the building will be easier to manage and maintain. As an example, we can implement a universal access control system for the entire building so employees can enter the building, access elevators and their tenant suite with only one access card (or even a mobile app). We can even integrate with building automation systems controlling HVAC and lighting needs. This can help reduce operational budgets and make it easier for employees to use on a daily basis.
- Reduced cost. Perhaps the most important reason why building owners and architects should work with a security integrator early is to reduce the cost of implementing a system. When we help our clients design the security system at the early stages of a building project, we avoid change orders and additional labor costs for reconfiguring completed work. It’s always cheaper to install a security system that has been integrated into the initial building design.
Don’t let security and access control of your brand new building become a “hot potato.” Talk to a security integrator at the beginning of your building project and you’ll look like the hero who thought of everything.
[…] are advocates for incorporating security and access control into the building design process as early as possible. Not only does this approach save you money, but it can also make a big impact on the security and […]