The Importance of a Home Inventory

On Saturday, April 26, a low pressure front swept out of the Rockies across Texas, the southern plains, and across the southeast.  It collided with moist air from the Gulf spawning 36 tornadoes over 8 states ranging from Arkansas to Virginia.  As if the tornadoes weren’t enough, the same storm system dumped 12 to 18 inches of rain across Alabama and the Florida pan handle before swinging up the Atlantic coast causing widespread flooding.  At least 35 people were killed from the tornadoes and flooding.  Initial damage estimates from the combined losses run between $2 billion and $5 billion.

Most people vowed to rebuild their homes and lives as they sifted through homes that were reduced to scattered lumber.  They face a daunting task, not only in having their homes rebuilt but also remembering what they had in their homes.  Take a moment and close your eyes.  Now envision everything you have in a different room of your home and make a list of what 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.  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 what you’ve done in the comments section below or on our Facebook or Google + page.  Have a question?  Post it in the same places and we’ll get you an answer.

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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