How & Why to Inventory Your Household Contents - Part 2

The steps to creating a household contents inventory are less daunting with the use of a fairly simple app.  As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, I purchased NestEgg, an inventory app for iOS devices, for $3.99 and am using my iPad to input photographs and descriptions of the items in our home.  If you’re not an Apple products person, there are other apps available that run on Android systems.

I am employing a pared down version of the process that I use for a residential contents appraisal, but I still start at the front door and go clockwise through the house and through each room.   I know other appraisers who do furniture first, then art on the walls, then decorative items, etc.  I find that it I am too likely to miss an object using that method, but to each his own.

My steps:

  • Open a new item in NestEgg

  • Photograph the item using my iPad camera.

      • NestEgg allows up to 8 photographs, so include additional photos to document things such as marks, labels, damage, or photo of receipts)

  • Add a title and general description of the item

  • Identify the “Manufacturer”

  • Identify the “Category” using the NestEgg categories, augmented by custom categories you can add yourself

  • If known, you can include the manufacturer, where purchased, and price purchased

  • Use the “Notes” section to identify condition issues if the item is in better or worse than “good used condition”

  • In the kitchen I open a drawer or cupboard, take a photograph, and describe the contents generally. For example:

      • Stainless steel flatware, service for 12 (identify brand and pattern)

      • Miscellaneous Bakeware (number of items)

      • Cookware (identify brand and number of items)

      • Stoneware dinnerware, service for 12 (identify brand and pattern)

      • For large collection of books, I photograph the books in their shelves or bookcases and measure the number of feet of shelving.

        • Pull books you know to be of greater than average value and photograph them separately, including the copyright page

  • Linen closets with everyday sheets, towels, etc. (not antique quilts or fine linens), just take a picture and move on

  • Spend a little more time on antiques and finer items, making sure to record maker marks, labels, etc.

I’ve given myself permission to do a room at a time.  I started with one room per week, and have slowed to about one per month, but no recriminations.  Better to get it done slowly than never to do it at all…said the tortoise to the hare.

The truth is it does take some time, and even some patience, to get through the full process.  I keep reminding myself that it will be much faster and easier to update the inventory on an annual basis than to build the inventory from scratch.