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Hi all, I just recently purchased a 20 unit apartment building and am having some issues. Non of the issues are with the building itself, only its visitors. I keep getting property damage on the inside of the building by having people walk right through the front door. I am there most of the time, but I am in school and work at the same time. The only thing I can gather that would correct this problem would be to lock the door and have an intercom system installed to buzz each separate apartment from outside. If the tenant so chooses, I want him/her to be able to buzz the person into the building without walking down 3 flights of stairs to the main entrance. The building has no such system currently installed. I want to know how much a system like this could cost and what kind of systems there are. If I could, I'd like to get a wireless system (if they exist) but am unsure if the system would get confused and buzz the wrong apartment. Any help or thoughts are greatly appreciated.
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I've never seen a wireless, but they may exist. I had a couple of doors change to a system like that with intercoms in three offices. All the wiring is low voltage. Impossible to give a price unless someone sees the job. Construction, apartment layout, and locations affect all of this. It can be done but I'd guess it could be from $2500 to $25,000.
Our system was installed by the same outfit that does our security alarms. They have the experience and expertise.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Cheap solution would be put a lock on front door, and either key it so the apartment keys can open it, or give each tenant a key and just plan on changing the keying yearly. Since about 3/4 of people have cell phones now, just put a sign up to tell people to call the person they are visiting to get let in. Tenant would still have to walk down, but so what? Buy a cheap security camera, and mount it in an armored bubble pointed at front door, with the recorder in the furnace room or some other secure space. Nothing like being on camera to make punks mind their manners.
They added a system like that to some cheap apartments I used to live in, after enclosing the formerly open entryways. It was a pain in the ass, and seldom worked correctly. And drunks and ex-boyfriends would just press all the buttons until somebody buzzed them in just to shut them up, so you still had all the night-time door pounders anyway.
-- aem sends....
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This sounds like a good idea. I don't like having tenants buzz people in without seeing who it is. Their friends can call 5 minutes ahead to let them know they'll be there.
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Of 20 apartments, how many are lived in by older, sick, or disabled people? Rather than walk down they are going to leave the door unlocked. Ever been on crutches? If so, how would you let people in, especially if they are coming to assist you? No, not a good idea at all.
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On Sun, 28 Feb 2010 00:43:55 -0500, "Ed Pawlowski"

Both are good ideas.

We had lots of old people in our building. This was 1976 and many of them had lived there since the building was built in 1930. Most were women in the 80's. Mrs. Rutlidge, Miss Hussy and Mrs. VanDyne, Mrs. Tieke, and others. They were particularly vulnerable to strangers wandering around the building.

In several years, no one ever left the door unlocked. I never found it unlocked or ever found anything that could be used to do so. The door was on a closer and the bolt was a slam lock.

Make arrangements with a neighbor, who can go downstairs or might even live downstairs, to let the person in**. If no one will be home during the day, the helper will have to come the previous evening when someone is home, to be given a key. **The neighbor doesn't even have to live in the same building. He could live down the block, or on the next street.
He could also allow specific people to have buzz-in power, if they are on crutches, for example, on their firm promise not to buzz strangers in.

It depends on the details of the op's situation. He wants the door locked for security. So the insecurity of letting 20 different people buzz people in has to be evaluated.
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wrote:

I should have given you credit, Ed, for calling attention to people who have a hard time with stairs. For one thing, he can be sure to install the return buzzer wire, just in case, even if he never or rarely connects it.
Maybe he could run some 20-conductor wire for that, to slow people down who would connect the return-buzzer themselves if there is only one wire left in the box, and that's it.
Probably best to include the tenants in the planning.
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mm wrote:

Just out of curiousty, what are you calling the "return buzzer"?
--
PV

Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.
H.L. Mencken
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wrote:

The circuit that unlocks the front door when someone in the apartment presses a button. Usually the latch in the door buzzes, and it's known as buzzing someone in.
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wrote:

Maybe I should have said that the visitors buzz up and the tenants buzz back down. Hence "return".
But it's only good where security is not really an issue.
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This thread reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld where he buzzed the people IN and opened his apt. door right away.
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wrote:

I think I remember that one. You're right. But most of the NYC elements of the story were very realistic. The buzzer system in general, the intercom, the alternate side of the street parking rules.
Even the doors and the peepholes. There are a lot of dramas and comedies supposedly set in NYC where the doors are wrong, and the peepholes are very wrong.
Kojak was wrong, in that during chase scenes in Manhattan, they would turn the corner and suddenly be in the Bronx. OTOH, although Cagney and Lacey was unrealistic, at least for the period, in having two women in the same car, when they had a chase scene, when they turned the corner they were still in the same part of town. (There was rarely enough detail to know what block they were on either before or after turning, but they were in generally the same area.)
A lot of other shows have scenes with alleys. I don't think there are any alleys south of 200th St. in NYC and only maybe a tiny number in Brooklyn, but still they show scenes in alleys. Deliveries and garbage collection are made straight from the street, which is one of the reason for traffic problems (although they may have forced most of that to be done after 6PM. That was the plan, but I don't know what happened). Not counting Elphreth's Alley, which is actually a street a block long just north of Wasington Square Park.
Going to NJ to get a better price on an air conditioner might have been accurate. Prices are probably lower, even counting the tunnel toll, but I don't know how many would go to the trouble.
Key money and competition for newly vacant apartments is very NYC. (Attending a wake to get first crack is not.) (I myself just lucked out when all 4 girls renting a 3 BR 3Bath living room/dining room/eat- in kitchen apartment for $275 in Brooklyn decided to move out only a year after they moved in, and they "gave it" to me because I had dated one of them a year earlier.)
Dealings with supers and doormen and Greek coffee shops were pretty accurately done, although the comic side was emphasized.
As to parking, I have bad news and good news.
The bad news is that the world will end tomorrow.
The good news is that alternate side of the street parking rules have been suspended.
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That was 1976. Today you'd probably find the door wedged open. Those women in their 80's were very conscience, unlike may younger people today.

That is incredibly unrealistic. Your idea sounds like it came from a 1950 TV show.

Yes, it does. With that many people there will be a couple that are problems.
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Its better than just having people walk in off the street the way it is now.
Jimmie
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Ya have a point there, I guess. Even with a self-closing door with the unlock button disabled, people just prop the door open. So I guess the cheap first solution would to be to just go with the camera and recorder. If building has a common cable TV feed or roof antenna, you can even add a 'front door channel' to the building feed, pretty cheaply.
It would be useful if OP would tell us the age of the building, the city, and the style of construction. 20 units 3 stories sounds like an old urban building, which likely means masonry construction. It would be pretty annoying and labor-intensive to add a traditional wired door intercom to that, with most of the money being labor. If the phone wiring has been updated, perhaps the alarm company could borrow a spare pair from them to get to each unit. I have seen systems that actually dial the tenant's programmed number, and use it as the apartment end of the hookup- tenant punches a code on phone TT pad to unlock door. Or if there is central TV wiring, I have seen stuff that can ride that, too.
At this point, I'd say OP needs to have both local alarm system vendors come by for a visit, and listen to their pitches and ballpark estimates.
--
aem sends...

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Well, the building was constructed in about 1920 and was initially used as a hospital until the 60's. It is of wood construction and totals over 4 floors, (basement, main, 2nd and third).
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camryguy wrote:

A 90 year old 20-unit wood frame building? Okay, now I understand why the building was affordable for somebody still in school. Does the place come anywhere near current code for sprinklers, fire walls, alarm systems, egress paths, and such? Or do they consider it grandfathered? You are a braver man than I am, buying a structure like that. My office is of similar vintage, but it is of modern office building type construction, mostly. (Steel, brick, concrete, etc.)
You need a pro to lay eyes on the place. It may be trivial, it may be OMG expensive, especially if things need to be pretty.
-- aem sends...
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The property is equipped with a fire alarm system with sprinkler heads, has been completely re-wired, insulated with fiberglass insulation and has been drywalled with 3/4" thick fireboard. The property wasn't cheap by any stretch, but was worth every penny as it is completely rented grossing almost $15,000 monthly. I may be in school, but have been working for the past 20 years. I just wanted a change. I am just worried about losing my tenants because of the vandalism. I will be contacting a communications technician to give me a ballpark estimate as to what it would cost to install a door entrance system to better protect my tenants.
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wrote

They should live on the ground floor. And yes, I've walked with a cane for about a year. I did all my errands on my own and it did take extra time. And yes, it was very painful walking, but I didn't ask for special favors.
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So, if I break a leg and live on the third floor, I should swap apartments with someone on the first until my leg heals in six or eight weeks. Why didn't I think of that? You are a genius.
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