How Much is a Security System for a Condo?
By: Phillip Livingston
Date Published: January 08, 2021
When it comes to condo security, boards generally want solutions that offer real protection and value to the people who live in the building. Though you can’t put a price on safety, there is a price tag for security guards and security systems.
This article aims to give you a general idea of how much it would cost to integrate a new security system into your condo community.
Access control systems
Access control systems allow condo buildings to maintain a professional and welcoming environment while also enforcing strong security measures. They limit unwelcomed or unauthorized people from entering the condo building.
Access control systems are tailored to each individual condo and the technology can vary, but many buildings use key fob access systems for doors, amenities, and parking garages. Managers or boards can customize these systems so that certain areas, such as business rooms or the pool area, can only be accessed by residents during specific hours.
On average, these systems cost between $1,500 to $2,500 per door. These systems do require some upkeep, and the association should expect another bill each time the software needs to be upgraded.
Security guards provide trained responses and solutions when the unexpected occurs. They may conduct scheduled patrols, and respond to vandalism, fights, car break-ins, and much more.
When it comes to security guards, condos have a lot of options to consider. The size, location and needs of each condo community will determine how many guards the building needs, and how much they will cost. Rates will also vary depending on whether the guard is armed, how much risk they may be exposed to, and their professional experience. Be careful when making a decision based exclusively on costs; sometimes the least expensive option ends up exposing the association to more issues.
On average, an unarmed guard with basic experience will charge an hourly rate of $15 to $20, but costs can be much higher. An armed guard’s starting rate is around $25 to $30 per hour, but experienced guards could cost twice as much.
- Unarmed guard with basic training: $15 to $20 per hour
- Armed guard with basic training: $25 to $35 per hour
- Unarmed guard with advanced skills and experience: $30 to $35 per hour
- Armed guard with advanced skills and experience: $45 to $60 per hour
A condo could save money without sacrificing the quality of service by hiring an unarmed guard. Most communities will not require such an extreme level of security. Furthermore, allowing guards to carry weapons increases the condo association’s liability, so it’s important to determine if the weapon will be a greater deterrent or an undue risk.
Condos may elect to hire guards directly instead of using a firm. This is because hiring a guard directly is less expensive. However, hiring directly comes with some hidden costs, including background checks, training, and most importantly, insurance. The association’s insurance policy must cover the guard for General Liability for damages they incur, amongst other things. Though hiring a guard through a company or firm costs more upfront, these guards come with insurance, they often receive regular training, and they meet all state regulations. Security firms usually complete extensive background checks on the people they hire, so the condo doesn’t have to worry about any of that.
To find a reputable security firm, ask other condo associations in your area for recommendations. The condo board should do preliminary research, however, it’s always good to hear how security companies have performed in other condo buildings.
CCTV cameras keep an eye on several parts of the condo building at once. They can monitor stairwells, elevators, parking lots, the lobby, etc. When installed properly, CCTV cameras help to deter crimes and unwanted behaviour from occurring.
An association could expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for security hardware, but keep in mind that someone must install and monitor the cameras.
Some of the primary hardware components of a business security system include the video cameras and CCTV systems such as networking equipment and computer monitors. Quality cameras could cost $600 each, and the other equipment will cost hundreds more.
The labor costs associated with wiring and installing a small CCTV security system tends to be around $500, but the more equipment that needs to be installed and activated, the more expensive the project will be. When it comes to installation, two things will play a significant role in the cost: the size of the building and the nature of the contract. The larger the building is, the more cameras it will require for proper coverage. That’s relatively straightforward. Installation costs may differ depending on the relationship the condo is looking for from the company. Security providers will sometimes discount installation pricing, or even waive it altogether if the association signs off on a long-term monitoring contract.
If you require someone to monitor the cameras because you don’t have building security, you can expect to pay around $40 to $120 per month. The number of sensors and cameras being monitored will impact that cost. The type of monitoring will also impact how much the association pays. A condo may choose between landline monitoring or cellular monitoring. Landline monitoring has a lower monthly cost than cellular monitoring, but it is easier to shut down this type of monitoring system.
Some people may consider installing a few old dummy cameras (cameras that don’t actually work) to cut costs and scare off unwanted guests. While this may seem like a cost-effective solution, it’s never advised. These cameras don’t function, and the association’s money is better spent on something more effective. More importantly, having cameras on the property leads residents to believe that anything that happened in front of the cameras would be recorded, and therefore, could be used as evidence. But once it is revealed that dummy cameras were installed, the association could face liability issues.
On a final note, CCTV cameras are excellent security tools, but work best when condos take an integrated approach to security. Without someone to monitor or react to the footage, cameras can only do so much.
When it comes to condo security systems, the price will vary. As you can see, costs will depend on the size of the condo, the community’s needs, and the location of the property. Some small communities may be fine with one security guard and an access control system, while larger associations will want 24/7 security service and will need to hire multiple guards for each shift.
Condo boards don’t have an unlimited budget and will need to make informed decisions about which strategies will be most effective for their community. Consider having a security audit performed by a third party. Security audits can help your building identify weak points, and find customized solutions that work with your budget.