Watching your home burn down in a fiery blaze is a downer. Getting robbed kinda sucks too. Losing one’s personal possessions doesn’t just happen to other people, it can happen to you. It happened to me about 12 years ago while still a student. I came home after an exam to find everything of value stolen. The thieves even took my dang Chia Pet – you know, the pottery that grows?

My “better half” has lost everything too. He watched his family home burn to the ground in a massive house fire. Both his belongings and family home were reduced to ash. Smoldering stuff is not sexy, delicious, or fun.

From my experience, making an insurance claim is a bit$h without knowing exactly what you own and how much you paid for it. Since stuff can be replaced in times of disaster, it just makes sense to create a home inventory listing all of your possessions.


Download: 15 Page Home Inventory Worksheet (PDF)

The Printable Home Inventory Worksheet will help you to:

  • List all your personal possessions in one convenient place.
  • Organize your belongings room-by-room.
  • Catalog, document, photograph, and describe valuable serial numbers, models, and receipts.
  • Prove ownership of items if an insurance claim is required.
  • Jar your memory when all seems lost.
  • Strengthen and establish an insurance claim in case of fire, robbery, or a natural disaster.
  • Determine how much insurance coverage is needed.
  • Get enough coverage by totaling the cost of all your stuff.

1. How to make a home inventory.

There are several ways to create a home inventory. Pick the method you are most likely to embrace and update.

Notebook with photos.

Get a notebook. Make a section for each room in your house or apartment. Go through each room and document everything. Take photographs. Download the 15 Free Printable Home Inventory Worksheets (PDF) to help. These sheets are blank so just fill in the details! Don’t forget to list serial numbers, manufacturers, models, and price paid. Attach receipts. Using a spreadsheet and then attaching photos is also helpful.

Make a video.

You don’t have to be from the MTV generation to know the value of video. Creating a mini movie with a room-by-room playback is very valuable when making an insurance claim. Walk through each room and record your stuff. Be sure to shoot serial numbers and add commentary by reading out model numbers. Collect all receipts and store with the tape. Dubbing in your favorite theme music is totally up to you.

Use home inventory software.

Do the digital thing by finding free home inventory software (freeware) or by buying a trusted brand. Use home inventory software to document your stuff by room, upload photos, and make digital copies of receipts.

2. Reasons to store your home inventory off site.

Do not keep your home inventory at home. What use is a home inventory if it burns in a house blaze or gets whisked away in a whirling twister? None at all. So be sure to keep your notebook, video, or digital back up on CD and place it in a safe deposit box.

3. Should renters have a home inventory? Students?

YES! When I was a student renting a little apartment, I would have benefited greatly from having a simple catalog of all my stuff. When the time came to make a claim, I had no idea how many CDs I owned, or the worth of my wardrobe.

4. Update and repeat!

Be sure to update your inventory with each big purchase. Don’t let it get out of date.

A home inventory is a very valuable tool in times of theft or natural disaster. A listing of all your stuff can really help when dealing with the unpleasant task of making an insurance claim. I must admit, I never claimed my Chia Pet.

Other home checklists you may like: