How to create a home inventory
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Whether you own a home or condo, or you rent an apartment, you likely have a lot of stuff. And it’s likely not just clothes, appliances and electronics, but also kitchen utensils, picture frames and maybe even high-end items, like jewelry and artwork. While it can feel daunting to create a home inventory, it can prove invaluable if you want to upgrade or replace your belongings, or if you have to file an insurance claim. We broke down the process on how to create a home inventory and ways to make it faster and easier.
How to start your home inventory:
A simple, step-by-step process can help you get started and stay on track when creating your home inventory.
Find an easy place to start.
It can be incredibly overwhelming to figure out where and how to start the process of your home inventory, especially in larger areas where you have more stuff. Instead, choose a smaller, confined space like a closet to get the process underway without all the intimidation and heartache.
File recent purchases.
If even the closet seems like too much, switch tactics and look to your most recent purchases instead.
Start with basic details.
There are some basic details that you should include for each item on your home inventory, including a brief description of the item, the price and any other identifying characteristics, such as the make and model or product number.
Take photos or a video.
Whenever possible, use your phone or digital camera to capture pictures of each item for easy reference. Walking around and recording a video as you detail each item, showing close-ups of serial or product numbers is also an option. Catalog and store each photo or video using a cloud storage program that is both easily accessible and secure.
Document serial numbers.
Additional details like serial numbers and product numbers are beneficial as a reference point when filing a claim. Be sure to include these in your home inventory wherever possible.
Categorize your belongings.
When recording each of your belongings, use categories to condense and simplify. Instead of listing each pair of shoes that you own, for example, simply add “7 pairs of sandals.” You could also place them together and take a picture if you don’t want to break down details of each pair of sandals. Be sure to make a note of high-value items and list them separately.
Your insurance company may request proof of purchase with your claim, so be sure to keep and file sales receipts, purchase orders, sales contracts and appraisals.
Confirm high-value coverage.
If any of your belongings are of exceptionally high value, you should note the additional value on your inventory. Discuss these items with your insurance agent to ensure that you purchase as much insurance as you need. You may be able to list these items individually and insure them based on value under scheduled personal property coverage.
Update as needed.
As you add more purchases and belongings to your collection or swap out old items for new models, you should also update your inventory to keep it current. You can do this with each purchase, or put a reminder in your phone once a month or quarterly to update your home inventory.
It is important not to let yourself get discouraged throughout the process. The initial inventory will take some time, but if you begin to feel overwhelmed, take a break and start again later when you feel refreshed. You can also break down the process to make it easier, like spending an hour a day documenting until the process is complete.
Don’t forget to add these items to your home inventory:
What is out of sight can be out of mind. Unfortunately, easily forgotten items can also impact your home inventory. There are some of the things that are commonly overlooked in the average home inventory.
- Electronics: This includes not only your TV but other entertainment accessories, too. Add any sound systems, speakers and gaming systems to your list, and do not forget small electronics, such as portable music players, cameras and earbuds.
- Items in storage: Do not forget to account for any items that are in off-site storage. Some items in storage could be covered under your homeowners insurance policy, but you will want to discuss whether you need additional insurance with your agent.
- Furnishings: Your rugs, curtains and blinds are all items you should include in your home inventory. Not only do they make your home beautiful, but they can be pretty expensive to replace, too.
- Phones: Today’s cell phones can cost several hundred dollars to replace. Be sure to add any cell phones or house phones to your home inventory.
- Music instruments: A piano may stand out as an obvious item for your inventory, but other instruments, like a flute or violin, should be included, too.
- Appliances: Appliances can be some of the most expensive items in the home. Things like your stove, fridge, microwave and dishwasher are all critical to add to your inventory.
Make your home inventory easier
There are several tools that you can use to make the home inventory process more manageable. Of course, you can document everything with pen and paper, but then you risk losing your inventory, along with your belongings, in an event such as a fire or flood. Creating a home inventory in digital format could be a better, faster and more secure option.
Filling out our home inventory worksheet and saving it in the cloud is one easy way to create and maintain your home inventory, even as your collection of possessions grows each year.
Home inventory apps and technology
Thanks to the digital age today, several apps and software platforms can help you create your home inventory. From capturing and storing photos to organizing your things by category, these are some of the best apps we found that might help with your home inventory.
|App/Software||Operating system||Price||Standout feature|
|Allstate Digital Locker||Android, iOS||Free||Helpful Quick Inventory feature for step-by-step inventory building|
|BluePlum Home Inventory||iOS||$19 with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a free 14-day trial||Create collections based on rooms, collections and even properties for easy sorting|
|Encircle||Android, iOS||Free initially, must contact for custom pricing||Offers unlimited users and data storage, geared towards restoration and home inventory companies|
|Home Contents||iOS||Free with in-app purchases||Use the camera feature for quick entry and a secure record of your things|
|Home Inventory||iOS||$9.99||Stores inventory in the cloud, also allows for estate planning and assigning items to heirs, plus home organization and management tools|
|Inventory Manager||iOS||$4,99, with in-app purchase offers||Includes inventory management, maintenance and repair logs, project management and service contact information, plus will automatically sync with other Apple devices|
|Magic Home Inventory||Android||Free||Allows home inventories based on multiple properties with an advanced search feature|
Pro Plus: $10/mo.
Team: $5/mo. per user
|Syncs with Google Sheets for a custom, color-coded database, can also be used for studying, medical records, time management and more|
|My Stuff Organizer||iOS, Android||Free, with in-app purchases||Barcode scanning with sorting between high-value and everyday items, plus warranty and guarantee reminders|
|Nest Egg||iOS||$6.99, with in-app purchases||Take HD photos and scan barcodes with convenient batch editing|
|Smart Inventory System||Android, Desktop||Free, with in-app purchases available||Use QR codes to easily and quickly build your inventory with offline availability|
|Sortly||Android, iOS||Basic: free
|Allows for incredibly detailed inventory; can generate QR codes for your stuff|
*If billed annually.
If you feel completely overwhelmed or simply don’t have the time to do your home inventory yourself, there are professionals who can help. Professional home inventory experts are commonly available in many places to provide an experienced touch to your home inventory.
You can check the National Association of Home Inventory Professionals for tips on finding the right professional to help with your home inventory. Be sure to look for client reviews and ask your provider any questions you may have regarding the process or how to best customize their services for you.
Frequently asked questions
Although you might feel you do not need to create a home inventory, it can prove to be a time- and money-saving process. Your home inventory not only serves as a detailed record of what you own for your homeowner or renters insurance policy, but it can also help document losses on your tax return or determine how much homeowners or renters insurance to buy.
The cost to make a home inventory can vary. You can create a home inventory for free, depending on your available time and resources. Several apps can help for a nominal monthly fee, and or you can choose to hire a professional service to handle all of the details for you.
A home inventory can be challenging to create, but taking a step-by-step approach can help simplify the process and make it stress free. Our home inventory worksheet can help you start your inventory today and add to it over time so that it does not become overwhelming. You can also use an app to make the process easier or hire someone to help you if the task is too big for you to do alone.