On Saturday, December 26, the temperatures were unseasonably warm, due to the warm air flowing up from the Gulf. A cold front rolled in from the west late that afternoon to collide with the warm Gulf air and set off 11 tornadoes across north Texas which killed 11 people and damaged or destroyed over 1,200 homes and businesses in Red Oak, Garland, and Rowlett.
The damage to homes and apartments was visible and could be easily be seen by the homeowners. Rebuilding will be a daunting task, but what may prove more difficult is determining what they had in their homes. Close your eyes and envision everything you have in a different room of your home then write down everything you thought of. Once your list is complete, go into the room you envisioned and compare your list to what’s actually there. How close were to including everything that was there?
Chances are you missed several things on your list. Imagine doing this exercise for the entire house. The percentage of homeowners who will experience a total loss, such as the victims of last week’s tornadoes, is 5% or less. When it happens, it’s very common for the homeowner to go into an emotional state of shock as their life has been shattered in much the same way their home was. Remembering what was in your home would be almost an impossibility under the best of circumstances let alone after such a terrible event. This is why I recommend you have a home inventory.
To create a home inventory:
- Take a photo inventory of your home with your smart phone or with a digital camera
- Complete the photo inventory with a listing of items in each room with a spreadsheet
To take the photo inventory:
- Stand in the middle of each room and take a picture of each wall
- Open cabinet doors and take a picture of what’s inside
- Take pictures of books and decorative items on shelves
- If there’s a closet, open the door and take a picture of contents
- For small items such as jewelry, silverware, collectibles & specialty items (furs, china, guns, etc.) take individual pictures of each group and item
Some people suggest taking a video of your home and narrating it. We don’t recommend that as it will run long based on the level of detail you add to your commentary and that could make it difficult finding the item you’re searching for.
Once the photo inventory is complete:
- Upload the photos to a secure online photo storage place such as iCloud, Dropbox, SugarSync, Flikr, Google Photos, etc. (make sure your inventory photos are in a folder you don’t share with anyone)
- These photos can also be burned to a CD or loaded onto a flash drive, however store them in a safety deposit box (they’re no use to you if lost to a home fire)
- Make a written record of what you have by room on either a legal pad, an Excel spreadsheet or use a home inventory software program
- Include serial numbers, manufacturer name, model and price you paid for it (if you don’t remember, then an approximate value is helpful)
- For nice jewelry be sure to record the color, cut, clarity, and number of carats (scan and upload an appraisal to a secure site). We recommend these items be scheduled so they will be insured for their full value.
Need some help? We have Excel and Word templates or .PDF versions we can email you to help record what you have. Share your questions or what you’ve done our Google +, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!