A home inventory is a crucial item all households should have – for your own reference and for home insurance purposes. Let’s look at how to create one, and exactly WHY it’s so important.
Thank you to INSUREMY.co.uk for sponsoring this post.
Picture the scene.
You come home from holiday only to find you’ve been broken into.
The stress levels are high, the emotions are everywhere – and the police/insurance company are asking you exactly what’s missing.
Now – most people can think of quite a lot of what they own, but it’s all too easy to forget a few things.
Not only that – but even if you know you own a TV – can you remember what brand it is, what it cost, when you bought it etc….?
Chances are low, right?
You really DO need this information when putting in an insurance claim, or describing what’s been stolen to the police (for recovery purposes).
Could you do it?
And it’s not just burglary that having a list of your stuff comes in handy:
It could be a fire, a flood, or a whole number of other ways that your items could be ruined.
I would also wager that should any of these events happen, the last thing you want to add to your plate is to have to think hard about what you own(ed) for insurance purposes?
So – why add to your stress levels when you can spend a little time now preparing for the worst?
Surely it’s better to be prepared than to regret it if the worst happens, and that’s where a home inventory comes in so handy.
What Is A Home Inventory?
It’s the thing that you hope you’ll never need, but will be invaluable if you do. Much like insurance really!
A home inventory is, in its simplest of forms, a comprehensive list of all the belongings in your house.
It’s a detailed record of your personal property, that includes details of codes, purchase price, valuation, identifying marks etc…
What Should You Include In Your Household Inventory?
Exactly what you list out is up to you, and it could be anything from absolutely EVERYTHING, or (more commonly) it’s a list of your more expensive possessions and such as cameras, jewellery, electrical etc…
Here’s a quick list of things that you may want to include:-
- Electrical equipment
- Computers /Laptops
- Mobile Phones
- Kitchen gadgets (especially things like blenders and high priced items)
- Microwave / Cooker etc…
- Light fittings
- Clothes and Accessories
- Musical instruments
- Antiques / Heirlooms
- Attic / Garage contents (theres usually loads in these spaces!)
- Any valuable item / big ticket item not listed here – items for your specific lifestyle / hobbies etc…
…the list really is endless!
How Do I Decide What’s Valuable?
Some of your personal belongings may have cost you a lot, and therefore you will have the receipt and/or know that you should include it.
Other items may not be valuable alone, but in a collection or group they can start to become more pricey to replace (i.e. CDs, books etc…).
However, if you’re in doubt, get your stuff valued by a professional. That way you can be sure that you also have adequate insurance coverage (another thing that makes an inventory a crucial item to have for any homeowner).
Not able to see a professional? Another easy way to measure current value is to look at what similar things have sold for online in places such as eBay or other second hand sales places.
Why Is A Home Inventory Crucial For Insurance Purposes?
If you know what you have, and the value it has – then you can not only make the right insurance claim, but you can also insure for the right amount of money.
Because, when you compare home insurance, you can get the right quotes and therefore adequate coverage by knowing the level of insurance you need.
You will also know whether there are specific items that need specific insurance – which can be invaluable should you need to make a claim because you know you’ll be properly insured.
How Do I Make A Home Inventory?
Firstly, a home inventory doesn’t have to be complicated – even though it sounds quite formal and time consuming to make.
The best idea is to keep it as simple as possible, because otherwise you’ll procrastinate about doing it and never end up getting it finished.
So – let’s see how to create one:
Step 1 – List Everything
Go around your house with a pen and paper (other options would be a computer, so you can create a home inventory spreadsheet in google sheets or excel, or even a home inventory app of which you can find several in the app store) and a camera (so you can create a visual inventory as well).
Go into each space / room and write a list of all the personal property you want to record.
Note down all the details you can about it (you may have kept the receipt or warranty information which would also help – so collect these together as you go as well).
The template below is the one available in the Home Maintenance section of my Home File – which you may prefer to use instead of creating your own.
Step 2 – Take Photos
When you’ve added each item to your list/inventory, then take a photo or multiple photos of the item(s).
An overall view is important, but secondary shots of serial numbers, details, even a photo of the receipt would be good as well.
NOTE: Don’t miss this step out – however tempted you are. It takes seconds to take a photo – and could make all the difference if you ever had to recall what you had.
Additional safety measures would be to take photos of each wall/cupboard, drawer, bookshelf etc… in each room of your home as well – this will mean that you can quickly go round and compare as to what’s been taken of the lesser valuable items, because you’ll have a complete overview of each space.
TIP – Don’t get overwhelmed, doing a room a week is fine if you prefer – but I suggest doing this as quickly as possible and then you won’t be fearful of the worst case in the interim.
Step 3 – Note Where Supporting Info Is Kept
Along with your home inventory, you’ll have receipts and photos that support the record of each item.
As such, it’s really important that you make a note on the inventory as to where these things are.
For example – where are the pictures filed on your computer (I suggest creating a Home Inventory specific file), and have you got a box or file for the receipts and any physical information that the item needs keeping.
When you know where it all is – it will make everything easier.
It will also make things easier for someone else should they have to do any insurance claim on your behalf.
Step 4 – Keep The Home Inventory Handy
Keep your home inventory somewhere that’s accessible should you need it – you want to be able to grab it when you need it!
I keep a copy in my Home File, and I have a printed out copy filed in the kitchen, and a digital copy on my computer that I back up on Dropbox, so I can access it from anywhere.
And talking of backups….
Step 5 – Back It Up!
This is important information – that may only be needed when part of your home has been damaged in some way (fire / flood etc…).
If that place includes where you’re storing your physical copy of your home inventory, then you run the risk of that being ruined as well.
Then that’s game over.
As such, make sure you backup your list in some way. I like to keep a digital copy of the actual list, photos of the items in digital form, and either photos of the receipts or scanned copies – also in digital form.
TIP – Make sure everything is backed up away from the house (i.e. the cloud) because if your hard drive is in your house it’s still possible that it will be damaged in the same way as the physical item may be. It’s important to keep backups in different locations.
Step 6 – Maintain It
The last step that’s often overlooked is maintenance of the inventory.
After all, you’ll be constantly changing what you own – with things breaking, buying new stuff etc…
As such, make sure you look over your inventory list regularly to check for any updates.
You could either do this at the end of the month/quarter/year, or just whenever you buy something or sell/let go of something.
I tend to review it annually, and it doesn’t take long – just a walk around the house checking off each item and adding in anything new.
Annually is long enough as I only track the more expensive items, and these don’t change as much as other things. I DO have digital photos of each room that I often update though, and I am keeping any receipts of newly purchased items etc… so I AM updating more than once a year if you count this.
I also add items to the home insurance directly when necessary (if we have bought something valuable, or inherited anything, for example).
Having a home inventory created for your home and possessions will pay back dividends in terms of peace of mind.
If the worst ever happened then it’s one less thing to worry about , and it’s always handy to know what you have.
Have you created one yet? If not – why not get started right now.
Your future self will thank you for it, for sure.
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