How to Create a Home Inventory

Would you be able to remember all of your belongings and how much they cost if your house was destroyed by a fire? Having a current, accurate home inventory is one step you can take to prepare for a disaster. We’ll take you through the steps and best practices for creating your own home inventory.

What is a Home Inventory?

A home inventory is a documented breakdown of your possessions and their approximate value. It’s important to keep an up-to-date inventory so that you have a detailed list to provide to your insurance agent in case of damage. This will help speed up the claims process and ensure that everything you lost is covered.

[Tip: Store a copy of your inventory in the cloud using Dropbox or Google Drive so you can always access it.]

2012 survey by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners revealed that 59% of consumers have not made a list or inventory of their possessions. Of the people who do have inventories, a majority have not updated them for over a year. Think about the amount of new stuff you acquire within a year—gifts, new purchases, etc. The first thing to consider when creating your inventory is making it simple to update.

How to Create a Home Inventory

Don’t be daunted by the task of making an inventory of your home. It isn’t hard, but it can be time consuming. This is an important task you’re about to undertake, and accuracy is important. Set aside specific time to work on your list so that you can focus.

1. Decide How to Categorize Your Belongings

The categories you choose will provide the organizational structure for your entire inventory. The categories are up to you—use whatever makes the most sense in your mind. For example, you may decide to categorize by room (living room, bedroom, etc.) or by item type (electronics, jewelry, furniture, etc.).

2. Do a Walk-Through

It’s not enough to sit at your desk and try to remember everything you own. Physically walking through each room and noting its contents is the best way to ensure you don’t forget anything.

3. Take Photographs

Take pictures of each room and of particularly valuable items and add a description. You could also use a video camera and record your walkthrough.

4. Be as Detailed as Possible

For more expensive items like electronics, list or take a picture of the serial numbers and make/model.

5. Save Your Receipts

Save receipts from major purchases you make and keep them with your inventory. You can even use a desktop scanner to keep digital copies of your receipts.

6.Provide Your Best Estimate

For some items, like books or cooking pans, just provide your best estimate as to how many you have. You don’t need to categorize every individual item you own. However, if there are particularly expensive or valuable items in the mix, be sure to note those (examples: leather jacket, antique book, wedding china, etc.).

Personal finance software often comes with an inventory section that you can use to keep track of your belongings. You can also use free online apps, or a simple spreadsheet.

Sample Home Inventory

Here’s a quick example of what your home inventory might look like. As you can see, it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy!