Home Inventory Basics

If a disaster stuck your home, would you be able to accurately list the items in your house? Do you know what you really have? If you’ve lived in the same house for a while, a thorough inventory of the whole house can seem daunting. The process is not difficult – just time consuming. However, home inventory has gone high-tech; technology has streamlined the process and made updating your inventory easier than ever.

Why do I need a home inventory?

Having an up-to-date home inventory will help you:

  • Ensure that you have enough insurance to replace the things you own
  • Get your insurance claims settled faster
  • Verify losses for your income tax return
  • Keep track of warranties


The best method is the one you use, so pick one that you will continue to use.

  1.  Make a list – Don’t try to do it all at once. Break it up into manageable tasks.
    • Free online software (recommended) – Such as Know Your Stuff: Information about your belongings can be entered either through the app (iPhone and Android) or through the Web-based software and your data will automatically synchronize between the two. All of your information will be kept in your personal, password protected account, on Amazon’s secure servers.
    • Spreadsheets – Create your own document with Microsoft Excel (save on Dropbox) or Google Docs that includes all necessary information like:


      • When was the item purchased?
      • Where was it purchased?
      • How much did it cost new?
      • How long is the warranty?
      • What is the make and model?
      • The serial number?

  3. Visual documentation (to supplement the inventory list) – If you don’t have time to complete a full inventory list, then visual documentation is better than not having anything at all.
    • Videotape – Take a video of each room separately. Don’t forget drawers and closets! Describe the room and its contents as you’re walking through, taking note of any expensive items.
    • Pictures – Take pictures of all your stuff, and make sure to get a picture of the serial number for expensive items.
  4.  Storage – Store a copy of your inventory list in a location that you can access from outside your home. Remember that in the case of a disaster, you may not have access to your house to retrieve a saved list.
    • Inventory list & documentation – Online software with cloud backup (included with Know Your Stuff)
    • VideosYouTube or Vimeo (marked as private)
    • Pictures – uploaded to Flickr, sync with Dropbox, or email to yourself


  • Big ticket items – Check with your insurance agent. Some items, such as jewelry, artwork, collections, and other valuables, may need to be insured separately.
  • Clothing – Count the items by category (pants, coats, shoes, etc.). Make notes about any items that are especially valuable.
  • Major appliances and electronics – Record all serial numbers (usually found on the back or bottom of the item).
  • Keep it up to date – It’s important to update your inventory periodically. Some items might need to be updated monthly, while others only need to be updated yearly. Set an alarm on your phone or mark your calendar to update your list as needed; this could be monthly, quarterly, or annually. The key is to make sure that whatever schedule and method you choose is one you can stick to!
  • Purchases – The easiest way to keep your inventory updated is to add the information to your inventory whenever you make a significant purchase. Add it to your list with a picture of the item, serial number, and receipt, as appropriate.