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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Tip - Inventory Your House

Britt and I sold some chairs on craigslist the other day and I ended up talking to the lady that bought them for a long time.  As we were chatting I found out that her house had recently burned to the ground and she had lost almost everything she had.  She looked at me right in the eyes, pointed her index finger at me and said, "If I could tell you one thing about all this it would be to take an inventory of your house now.  Otherwise you'll be in the mess I'm in where I'm having trouble getting my items replaced."  I think I'm going to listen.  Especially since she's the 3rd person I've known to have their house burn down this year.  

I did a little research to find out how to make a home inventory.  Here's what I found:
  • A lot of insurance companies have downloadable home inventory checklists available on line.  This is helpful for two reasons: 1) It gives you a start on what you need to inventory, and 2) it lets you know what your specific insurance provider is looking for in your inventory.  
  • Items such as household linen, cookware, cutlery, clothing, and children's toys do not have to be listed individually unless they are of particular value.  
  • Kitchen appliances, electronic games, artwork, musical instruments, computers, cameras and things of that nature should all be listed individually along with their serial numbers.
  • Make a photographic inventory.  Start in one corner of the room and work your way around until the whole room has been covered.  Take more detailed pictures of your valued items.  Flip your china over to get the name and manufacturer on file, take pictures of your books, music, DVDs so that you can read the titles.  Remember to open closets and drawers and fan out the items so they are all included.  
  • Once your inventory is complete, print it out or save it to a disc and store it in a safe location away from your house.   
I haven't actually started my list yet, but I'm going to next week.  It's already on my to-do list.  I'm going to start out by photographing each room, and when I'm done with that I'm going to go room by room and inventory what we have.  I know it's going to be tedious.  I know it's going to take a long time.  In fact, I may only get to one room a week.  But I'd rather have it and never have to use it, then watch my home go up in flames and not have a way to replace our possessions.  After I finish I'm going to burn all the pictures and inventory list to a disc and give it to my parents.  I feel like it's highly unlikely that our house and their house would both be destroyed at the same time.

Even if you don't have time to make a written inventory, I would encourage you to spend just a little bit of time photographing your house.  Hopefully you won't need it, but it'll be good to have anyway.  

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