Unfortunately, from time to time you need to board up a building and usually it’s an emergency. Board ups can be done 3 ways.
- Grab a piece of plywood, throw some nails around it, do not worry about what you are nailing the nails into. Very quick and economical. Unfortunately, anyone with a hammer can undo what you just did and you are going to have to repair the area you just drove nails into when you remove the plywood. This is perfect to keep our neighborhood kids out or if you know in an hour there is going to be a riot and you have an uninteresting store to looters. A piece of plywood keeps out rocks and opportunity seekers.
- Carriage bolts and measured wood. The majority of professional board ups need to be handled by a licensed contractor. When there has been a fire, a riot or a building will be vacant, paying to have it done correctly is the most economical way to handle it. The carriage bolts are attached so they can only be removed from the inside. Wood is cut to make the building secure. And if necessary, doors can be built with lock boxes to let in only the people you want to let it. We have cleaned a number of vacant houses where the plywood has been removed and squatters have created tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. And of course, the property owner has liability if something happens in an unsafe dwelling, no matter is the person broke in or not.
- Historical building, unbroken window: We get calls, “there will be a protest in my area in a few hours, I need my windows boarded up.” That’s what we do, no problem. Except this building is on the historical record site and the walls are granite or tile or beautifully carved oak. Now comes the most difficult board up of all. You can’t board up from the inside because the windows aren’t broken. You can’t drill into the side of the building and you can’t just lean a piece of plywood over the window or it could fall on someone’s head. You have to build a wood frame and attach it with tension and do it so perfectly that it doesn’t scratch the window frames and make the warranty on the windows void or fall when a rock is thrown at it. Clearly you need to prepare ahead of time and if you are in an area that is prone to disruption, having these pieces built and ready to go in the garage will be money well spent.
The good news on 2 above is that the expense is usually covered by insurance. Almost every real estate policy has a provision for “emergency services” such as hiring a contractor who specializes in securing properties. The insurance industry recognizes that at 3 a.m. or on a weekend they can’t always reach their insurance company. The policies therefore usually include a provision to cover site security after break-in or fire damage. They see a board up as very cost effective, since the alternatives can cause way more extensive damages.
Number 3 will save you so much in heartache, money and time, that it’s money well spent. Just as jewelers have metal accordion gates to keep looters out when they go home for the night, having a safety plan for your home or business is a necessity.
Plywood isn’t granite and can be circumvented with battery operated power tools but if you take the time and energy to secure your building and the security is defeated, your insurer will almost certainly cover your losses, especially if you show them the professional job you had done. Most looters and rioters will look for soft targets and if they can’t just rip the plywood off, they will move on.
Of course, board ups also protect you from the liability issues of people getting hurt on your property and weather intrusion. All in all, it’s good to have a plan, let us know if you need our help!
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