How to design a property for privacy
Your home is your sanctuary. Or at least, it should be. But with CCTV tracking our movements as soon as we’re out the front door, drones flying over the back garden and internet hackers lurking – are we really completely off the radar when we’re at home?
And if you live in a densely populated area such as a city centre, it can be difficult to stop neighbours and passers-by peeping into your private space. It’s predicted that around 68% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, according to the UN. This means an extra 2.5 billion people packed into already crowded urban areas.
You can’t keep out the outside world completely, but you can integrate certain features into your home to maintain your privacy. If you’re drawing up plans to build your dream home, don’t forget to factor in these kinds of privacy measures:
Orientation of windows and balconies
Careful thought is needed for the aspect of each room, avoiding orientation over boundaries or directly opposite neighbours’ windows and balconies. You can angle views away from neighbours, while making it more difficult for outsiders to look in.
Minimising direct overlooking of neighbouring properties, and maximising the separation distance
This can be achieved through clever onsite planting and other screening devices, as well as offsetting from communal areas and circulation routes. For example, introducing a change in levels can also be useful for this.
Subtle, layered solutions for outdoor spaces
Privacy from above and from neighbouring properties can be achieved with discrete measures that don’t detract from natural greenery and garden spaces. It’s all about building up layers and deploying the right textures. For example, you can use pergolas, lattices, panels, woven screens and other materials to discreetly protect your outdoor spaces.
Design a property for audio privacy
You’ve protected your property from visual surveillance, using screens, walls, hedges or fences, but what about audio surveillance? If your neighbours can hear when you take a phone call out in the garden, you don’t have total privacy. A simple yet effective (not to mention attractive) solution for this example is a water feature. You can also take measures to soundproof your home, especially if you live in a flat, terraced or semi-detached property.
Make use of skylights and openings to maximise natural light
It follows that the fewer windows you have, the greater your privacy. But this can also mean a lack of natural light and ventilation. The solution if you need to keep windows to a minimum could be to utilise skylights and other openings to let the light in.
Countering tech-related privacy concerns
Of course, neighbours peeping in through your windows isn’t the only privacy issue you may face. There’s also the risk that abuse of increasingly sophisticated technology could encroach on your private life, whether from online hackers or real-world surveillance.
But remember, you don’t need a sophisticated security system to keep tech-related privacy threats at bay. There are already a whole range of effective consumer counter surveillance gadgets to choose from.
If you’re worried about video or audio surveillance, a radio frequency (RF) detector will soon allay your fears (or smoke out the bug). And if you want to protect your privacy online, invest in some good quality anti-virus and anti-malware software. You can even use encryption devices to protect your most sensitive or confidential information.