Why You Need to Compile a Home Inventory and How to Do It

This last week has me rushing to complete one of my unfinished emergency preparedness projects. Our state has been filled with wildfires this summer, the most recent ones requiring thousands of people to evacuate their homes. A few homes have already been lost to these fires, and it has reminded me that there is a lot still to do to prepare our family for an emergency. One of those things on my to do list is completing our home inventory. A home inventory is a list with details for the valuables in your home, in case they are destroyed and need to be replaced by your insurance company.

create your home inventory

I remember starting a home inventory when I was taking my Family Resource Management course right after we got married. It was an extra credit assignment, and we didn’t own much yet, so our list consisted mostly of $30 kitchen appliances. I’ve had the best intentions to update that list over the years, but like our 72 hour kits, I kept putting it off. I finally started the project earlier this summer, but never got it completed. It is now my goal to finish our home inventory before the end of this year and back it up to a flash drive that I keep somewhere it won’t be destroyed in the event that our house and everything in it is.

emergency preparedness

The task still seems daunting, but I’ve discovered a tool that’s made it seem more doable and has even made it enjoyable. To help me compile our inventory, I downloaded the app from The National Association of Insurance Commissioners mentioned in this post. Using that app, I’m able to catalog our entire house by room, noting serial numbers, purchase date and price and include a photo of the item. Once our list is complete, I export it and save it to a safe location with our photos and important files that we don’t want to lose if our computer dies or the hard drive attached is destroyed somehow. When we purchase something new, we add it into the app and export and updated list.

home inventory for emergencies

One other thing that I’ve been doing as I create our home inventory is recording a video of each room. I remember my parents doing this when I was growing up and each of us got to show off our room for the camera when they got to ours. I’m glad I can use my phone to record a quick video showing what each room looks like, and the things that are in it. I’m storing these videos with my exported home inventory file and updating them every year, or when we do a big update on our house, like our recent deck build.

home inventory

Whether your most valuable possession is the toaster oven you splurged on with gift cards from your wedding, or that china cabinet filled with your grandma’s best china and you picked out to display in your front room, you need a home inventory. I wish that I’d continued to compile ours after I started it our first year of marriage. If I had kept that up and added new items as we purchased them, it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming to do it now. You could even turn this project into an at home date night. Send the kids to grandma’s for a few hours, put on some music, drink smoothies and work together to catalog all of the things that you own.

Photography by Sadie Banks Photography

why you need a home inventory and how to quickly and easily create one