Creating Your Home Inventory Documentation

by Kevin on July 25, 2008

home inventory list and hipster PDA

(Photo: Hipster PDA)

Earlier this week I gave you five easy steps to documenting everything you own in case disaster strikes. Step four in that process is creating extra paper or electronic documentation on top of just taking photos or a video. I’m going to walk you through how to do that today.

Tools to use for creating extra home documentation

You don’t need to buy any special kits to create this extra documentation. Here’s a quick list of options:

The first two options are free, the third will cost you some money. I’m all about free. Pen and paper is simple enough, but I’m a huge fan of Excel/spreadsheets. You can set up multiple tabs, one for each room of your home. Let’s give it a try.

1. Rename your tabs from “Sheet1”, “Sheet2”, and “Sheet3” into individual room tabs.

It will be much easier to understand what “room” you are in if you name the sheets properly.

It might go from looking like this:

To something like this:

2. Label columns as “Item”, “Estimated Value”, and “Serial # (if applicable).

You could also add a “scanned receipt” column if you were scanning receipts for major items. I put a title up at the top for the room as well, just as a reminder… you don’t want to get confused by adding items from the living room into the office spread sheet, or vise versa.

It might look something like this:

3. List all of the items of value in that room.

Don’t waste your time with items that aren’t truly valuable. “Stack of old magazines” is a waste of your time unless it they’re from a museum collection. Same thing with “pile of dirty socks.”

4. Do step three for every room in your house.

Go through your closets. Look under the bed. You’ll have items of value there that you inevitably will have forgotten about. (And maybe this is a good time to sell/donate some of the old junk you don’t use!)

5. (Optional) Have a master spreadsheet that copies everything from the other sheets and displays it as one long page.

Instead of having to click through multiple tabs, you can set up a formula to copy all the information from each sheet into one master sheet. This way you can scroll down (or print it off) and have one giant list.

6. Print multiple copies, store them in a safe place. Distribute electronic copies to safe, online storage areas.

As I mentioned last time, keeping your copies in your house does you absolutely no good. If the house burns down, the spreadsheet or file of paper you have your documentation on is likely to be gone for good. Send copies to your parents or to a safe deposit box more than 50 miles from your current location.

So what are you waiting for? Get off the computer and document your belongings! You never know when disaster might strike…

Or have you done it already?


Carissa July 25, 2008 at 11:23 am

Excellent! I always forget those tabs on excel and this is a great way to utilize them. I’m going to get working on my home inventory this weekend. My husband has several platform systems that all have serial numbers that I’ve been meaning to document for some time. This gives me the perfect reason.

Thanks again!

Kevin July 25, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Glad to be of assistance, Carissa! 🙂

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