A DIY Guide to Creating a Home Inventory

Milissa Malloy

Although optimism is an attractive quality, hoping that your home will never be affected by water damage, fire or theft won’t lessen your risk. If catastrophe strikes, consider how difficult it would be to recall every possession that you own. That’s why proactively taking a home inventory is so important.

There are multiple reasons to take a home inventory, which include:

  • Documenting what you own and the value before a loss occurs to confirm your insurance coverage is adequate
  • Streamlining and expediting a claim in the event that you should experience one
  • Assisting with estate planning
  • Aiding in moving and storage of items
  • Providing peace of mind

This DIY guide will make it easy for you to stop procrastinating and start protecting the prized possessions that you have spent a lifetime collecting.

Getting Started

  • Grab a camera (or your phone).
  • Pick one room to begin with and take multiple room shots from different angles documenting the contents and how they are set up (4-6 images of each room should be sufficient).
  • For any high-valued items, collectibles or extremely unique pieces, photograph these on an individual basis. Remember, some of these items may be in drawers, closets, attics or basements. Don’t forget those handbags!

Things to consider when documenting the following items:

  • Artwork – Take pictures of the art from multiple angles to avoid the glare that results from head-on photos. Record the artist’s signature, medium, title or edition number if visible.
  • Jewelry – Taking close-ups of jewelry will require good natural light and use of a macro lens to focus in.
  • Silver & China – Document one full place setting and attempt to capture the marking or hallmark.
  • Valuable Rugs – Capture photos of the front and back of the rug to verify how it is made.
  • Electronics/Appliances – Take note of serial or model numbers.

Add Relevant Materials and Documentation
Once you have completed your room-by-room photos, utilize the photos to create a list or spreadsheet documenting the contents of each room.

  • Group together less valuable items into one entry such as decorative items, sporting goods, kitchen goods, etc.
  • For the individual items, document as much information as you can such as quantity, maker, artist and value (if known). Include the image ID associated with that item.
  • Reference any invoices or receipts that you may have kept to document detailed information as well as a purchase price or value.
  • If you don’t have time to create a spreadsheet or would like to have further capabilities such as attaching invoices, etc., consider purchasing home inventory software or an inventory app.

Store Your Inventory in a Safe Place

  • Most importantly, store this information in more than one location outside of your residence, such as an electronic back-up, at an office or with a family member.

Milissa Malloy is a Risk Consultant for Chubb Personal Risk Services.

Categories: Home, Valuables
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