When disaster strikes, it is always good to have an accounting of your life. Yet, all too often people are caught off guard and have no way to reconcile what they might have left behind or lost. Home inventories are a great way to hedge your bets against the uncertainty life can throw at you. The process of home inventory seems daunting, but is really quite simple, and offers a level of assurance and documentation in case of theft or disaster. Dividing the process into smaller chunks helps to avoid the annoyance at having to do an inventory in the first place. Quick Summary:
- Inventory only one room at a time and not all at once
- Write down serial numbers and photograph items
- Use the process to clean clutter
- Inventory high value items if nothing else
Begin your home inventory by creating a simple spreadsheet. Mine included a column for category, what I am inventorying, and serial numbers. Serial numbers on items help the police return your property in the event of a burglary.
Collections or similar items they can be photograph as a group. Photograph all of your items either in their place or displayed to prove that they were actually in your home at some point. Print out your photos for data reliability incase some disaster takes away your ability to access them digitally. This helps if you ever have to file on insurance. Also, the photos do not have to be masterpieces, just representative of your possessions. During the inventory process, analyze if you actually need all of those items and if not, place them in a donation or sale pile.
High Value/High Target Items:
- Firearms! These are the most important if you own them
- Camera equipment
The items listed above are the easiest to sell and are always in high demand. Additionally with firearms, it is your duty to report them stolen for public safety reasons.
Once your inventory is complete, make sure to add new items to the list. Ensure that you have physical copies of your inventory and photos just in case your computer is stolen or crashes. The information does you no good if it is trapped on a hard drive that is inaccessible! If you have a bank safe deposit box, keep hard copies of the photos and the inventory safely tucked away there or find a trustworthy friend to keep your itemized list. Remember, the home inventory is a nuisance until your items turn up ruined or stolen.