The first question that might be coming to your mind is why should I create a household inventory? It sure sounds like a lot of work.
Well, creating one does require some effort, but that effort is well worth it. The reason is that although we don’t like to think about these things much, our homes and possessions can easily be detroyed by fire or natural disasters, or stolen from us.
That is why we have insurance. To rebuild our homes and restore our possessions when things outside of our control happen. However, if you’ve got to file an insurance claim you’ve got to both know what was lost, and also be able to prove you owned it, to be able to get compensated for it. That is where an inventory becomes useful.
Are you new here? This challenge about creating a personal home inventory is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).
Personal Home Inventory
You could create an exhaustive inventory of everything you own, down to the pencil or dust bunny, but that is too much trouble, and not worth your time. The inventory I suggest focuses on the big stuff, and uses short cuts to help you maximize the usefulness of your inventory for the least amount of effort.
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment And Supplies
To create your personal home inventory easily I suggest that you take lots of digital photos and/or use a video camera to go through your home documenting the stuff you own.
Here is the equipment and other things you should gather together for this process:
- Digital camera and/or video camera
- 2 CDs or DVDs to burn the photos or video onto
- Scanner (optional)
- Printable home inventory checklist
- Printable home inventory forms
Step 2: Walk Through Your Home Room By Room Documenting Your Belongings
Using your camera or video equipment go systematically, room by room, throughout your home documenting your possessions. Make sure to open drawers, closet doors, peer inside storage containers, etc.
If you use a video camera try to narrate as you go along, telling what the various items in each room are, and any other important facts about them such as when you purchased it, how much it cost, its condition, etc. In addition, as you see items with serial numbers make sure to show them on the camera and read them out loud.
Do something similar with your camera, but take even more extensive notes with your home inventory forms, since you can’t narrate your thoughts out loud with photos.
To make sure you don’t forget to document anything important run through the home inventory checklist to help jog your memory about all the rooms and types of items you should document.
Don’t get bogged down with this step though. Focus mainly on the big ticket items, and large groups of items, instead of trying to inventory every single object separately.
Step 3: Gather Any Readily Accessible Receipts Or Documentation About Big Ticket Items
The next step in creating your personal home inventory is to gather any readily accessible receipts or other documentation about the big ticket items in your home that you inventoried.
This additional documentation is not necessary to have, so don’t worry about it if you don’t have it, but it is just additional proof that you owned the item, and also its value.
For the future, as you buy new items for your home that are of large value you can place these receipts with your inventory to make it more thorough.
You can either scan or photo copy these additional documents to keep with the CD or DVD you will burn in the next step.
Step 4: Create Multiple Copies Of Your Personal Home Inventory
Once you’ve taken your photos and/or video, filled out the forms, and gathered any additional documentation about any items in your inventory, the next step is to make multiple copies of all this information.
The simplest way to do this is to scan any paper, digitize all of the information, and burn it onto multiple CDs or DVDs. If you can’t scan items you can just make photo copies of the most important paper items for safekeeping, along with some type of copies of the photos and/or videos.
Step 5: Make Sure To Store At Least One Copy Of Your Inventory Outside Your Home
The final step in making your personal home inventory is to store at least one copy of it outside your home. You can place it in a safe deposit box or leave it at a trusted friend or family members’ home, but whatever you do, get it out of your own house.
The reason for this is that if your home is destroyed, or your possessions stolen, you may no longer have access to the copy of your inventory that you’ll keep in your home. And of course, that is the type of situation in which you really need to access your inventory. So, don’t skip this final step.
You should also periodically update your inventory as you acquire new possessions, and get rid of old ones. I suggest doing this once a year. If you stick with me through all the challenges in the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge we’ll come back to this challenge again next year and you can just update it again then.