Recent natural disasters have caused everyone to think hard about what they would do if they were to lose their home. If disaster struck, would you be prepared? Most people have never documented in detail their home and its contents. Creating a list of items for insurance purposes would be very difficult after such a tragedy.

Before a catastrophe strikes and you suffer a loss, prepare a home inventory. A home inventory should include a list of the features of your home and a detailed list of assets. Hopefully, you will never have to refer to your home inventory, but if you ever need to make an insurance claim, the inventory will help you get your claim settled faster with greater accuracy.

Start by listing all of the rooms in your home. List the features of each room like type of flooring, molding, window coverings, and any upgrades that add value to the room. List the materials used in cabinets, counter tops, vanities, showers, and tubs. If you have receipts for the upgrades, attach these to the list. Take general pictures or video of these rooms.

Going room by room, make a list of all of your possessions. Describe each item, note where and when you bought it, and write down the brand, model number, and serial number, if applicable. If you still have the sales receipts or appraisal, attach these to the list as documentation. Don’t fret over the details. If you don’t know some of the information, put down what you do know. Some information is better than none at all. If you find you own a lot of high value items, make sure you carry adequate insurance coverage on these items.

Take pictures of significant belongings and write on the back of each photo a description of the item. Or, videotape your contents by walking throughout the house with a video recorder while talking about the objects being viewed. Be sure to include describing information on each item. Remember to open doors and drawers to make sure you don’t miss anything. Don’t forget the attic, garage and yard. Include lawn equipment, holiday decorations, patio furniture, as well as upgrades made to the outside of the home.

Get technical. There are many software programs and online inventories to assist you. Many allow you to store your inventory and documentation online so that it is protected and can be retrieved no matter where you are. If you do not store your information online, make sure you have a current copy off site at a friend or relative’s house or in a safe deposit box.

To ensure that you update the document once a year, pick a date and update your inventory at the same time every year. January is the good time to do this because the holidays are over, your house is back to its original state and getting organized is on your mind. If you need assistance, a professional organizer has the tools to help you create this valuable documentation.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Bates is the owner of Practical Solutions Professional Organizing. She is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and has been organizing professionally since 2003. Practical Solutions does residential and commercial organization. Cathy is also available to speak to groups on getting organized. They serve the Southern California area, but can find you a qualified organizer to meet your needs no matter where you live. Visit them on the web at and sign up for their free monthly newsletter with tons of great information to help you get and stay organized.