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Top 10 Tips for Creating a Home Inventory

The threat of a natural disaster shouldn't be the impetus to create your home inventory. A complete list of all your belongings can help you decide how much homeowner's insurance you need. Plus, you'll be prepared should you need to file a claim or write off a loss on your taxes. Get started now with these top 10 tips for creating your home inventory.

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Do one thing right now

Focus on one room or one small area in your home to begin the documentation process for your home inventory. This way you’re not overwhelmed with trying to capture the whole house at once. The hardest part is getting started. Here’s how to completely organize your bedroom in one hour.

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Record serial numbers and brand identifiers on your home inventory list

Check the backs of TVs, the sides of tools and inside the doors of large appliances for serial numbers. These and other unique identifiers can help you ID your possessions later, if it becomes necessary. These are the13 things you should do if your home is broken into.

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Include pricier items on your list

Expensive artwork and antiques are the obvious choices to make the list. But your home inventory list should also include your tools and other specialty equipment in your garage or workshop. Also, don’t forget things like collectibles, musical instruments and firearms that may be stored out of sight. If you store valuables in your attic, learn DIY tips to improve attic ventilation.

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Don’t forget your storage unit

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does cover your stored items, but there are limits. Be sure to inventory the contents of your storage unit and give the list to your insurance agent so they can determine the proper coverage limits for your belongings. Check and see if any of these items are in your attic. You could be sitting on a gold mine.

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Make sure you have proof of purchase

Keeping documents related to big purchases is important. It can make providing proof of ownership to insurance companies easier in the event of theft or damage. So, gather paperwork like sales receipts and appraisals and add this documentation to your home inventory list. These 25 companies offer super useful warranties. Did your favorite brand make the list?

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Get down to basics

Make a basic home inventory list using pencil and paper. If you’re not sure how to format your list, look online for freebies like this simple, downloadable checklist from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Moving? Grab a calendar and use these tips to create a project timeline.

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Put technology to work

There are many apps that allow you to quickly add photos and details about each item you want to include in your inventory. Start with a home inventory app from your insurance provider, if one is available. Otherwise, the Insurance Information Institute has endorsed several third-party apps from insurance carriers. You can also try Sortly, a popular off-the-shelf app available for both IOS and Android. No matter which app you choose, be sure it allows you to export your list in the event the app is someday discontinued or you change insurance carriers.

You can DIY your list with a cell phone video or a series of pictures of what’s in each room. Just don’t forget to follow up with more details.Then, upload all of the information to a secure online file storage site. Get an assist on your next project with these top home improvement and remodeling apps for DIYers.

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Capture your clothing

You don’t need to get as specific in the clothing section of your home inventory list as you would with items like TVs or expensive artwork. It’s OK to be generic and note things like two pairs of boots, 20 shirts, etc. You do want to include specifics for items such as high end shoes, suits, coats, etc. Here’s how to build a low-cost custom closet in a day

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Store your list in a safe place

If you’re not using an app to store your list, use your cell phone to snap a picture of your worksheet. Add a backup copy of that digital image to a secure online storage site. It also won’t hurt to put a copy in a safe deposit box at your credit union or bank. Then, if the contents of your home is damaged or destroyed, you’ll know exactly what you started with. Use this checklist to prepare your home for a storm.

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Take a breath

It can seem overwhelming to document all your personal belongings. But your home inventory doesn’t have to be done all at once. Document as much as you can as often as you can until you’ve accounted for all your stuff. Enjoy your own private Zen with these tips for building a backyard waterfall and stream.

Brenda Porter-Rockwell
Brenda Porter-Rockwell is a seasoned content writer. She has more than two decades of experience writing for B2c and B2B publications, including Inc.com and BE.com. Through the years Brenda has been published in a number of respected print and online consumer, and industry-specific publications and channels. Brenda has been a newspaper reporter for a medium daily in Central NJ, PR Director, magazine editor and marketing writer. Clearly she loves the printed word (and her byline)!