Our homes are filled with our “life’s collections” which include everything from photographs, jewelry, books, paintings, furniture, antiques, and family heirlooms, all items we have come to treasure and cannot imagine being without.
Our personal style speaks through these possessions. Since they are a valued part of our lives, why not protect them. Some items may be included in your homeowner’s policy but others, like valued family photographs, may not. If these items cannot be replaced you may want to speak with your insurance agent to have them covered under your present policy.
You should inventory your home. Each item, large or small, hidden safely away or on display for all to view, should be documented as a precautionary measure against loss.
This can be an overwhelming chore so let’s take it one simple step at a time. You will want to organize your list by room. By recording all you own room by room, the task will seem less tedious.
Begin with one room and photograph each wall. If you happen to have an excessive amount of items displayed, photo the wall in two parts. Then just look around and take pictures of all the furniture and everything not attached to the wall. Creating your list with these photos will make the job a lot easier. These photos will become a part of your permanent inventory as well.
Provide a detailed description and what you paid for each item. If you have kept purchase receipts you may want to include those along with your inventory. The more supporting documentation you have, the more reliable the claim should you suffer a loss. Be sure to note serial numbers of cameras, laptops, computers, TV’s, all home electronics, kitchen appliances, your furnace, hot water heater, air conditioner, central vac system, etc. Include clothing such as fur coats, and sports equipment like skis and skates. You will be amazed at how much stuff you actually own.
Remember to inventory your closets, basement, patio or deck, and any small outdoor shed/barn/garage on your property. You want a complete inventory of all of your possessions. This is not a weekend assignment. It could take several weekends but be persistent as it will pay off should you ever need to use this accumulated information.
Take your time, be thorough and leave a few empty spaces on your list just in case you miss something. This way you will have a place to list the item by room.
Don’t forget the little things like CDs and DVDs. Replacing them can add up if you are an avid collector or movie buff.
One last tip, if you’re using a digital camera to photo your possessions, keep all the photos on a CD as an added document of what you have. It’s wise to plan ahead with a back-up document. Place your inventory, photos and CD in a safe place.
Putting It All Together
Use a three ring notebook so you can add pages and remove pages as needed. Plus, you can add photos more easily. This notebook can also house important home documents like your insurance policy, deed to your property, your mortgage, etc. Purchase plastic sleeves with 3 holes along a tab to insert into the binder. Your documents and pictures will be protected this way.
Use one page at the beginning as a Table of Contents, just as you would see in a reference book. This Table of Contents will list individual rooms, basement, garage, outdoor shed/barn. You can assign a page number if you’d like or purchase pages with tabs and list each room on the tab which will protrude out of the notebook for quick access.
Be sure to include a list by items under Table of Contents. Items might be labeled as glassware, jewelry, electronics, outdoor tools, etc.
One final note on your inventory you have just completed. All of your “stuff” was most likely purchased by credit. If so, take a little more time and list each credit card you have by card number, company, phone number and address. Keep this information in your inventory notebook. The information will be immediately accessible should you need to dispute a purchase or contact authorities on any lost or stolen credit cards in your name.
You have just completed a valuable inventory of your home’s contents. You may consider purchasing a fire-proof home security vault to keep it in. If you are really ambitious, make a copy of the entire notebook to have a back-up duplicate.