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Home Inventory How-To

Or How to Make a Packing List

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My sister recently moved and found that a few items were missing. Of course, she only discovered this a few weeks after the move and after she had already signed-off on the waybill the moving company provided.

Don't let this happen to you. Before you move it's important to know exactly what is going to move with you; It's a kind of packing list. Items can be lost or damaged, but if you know exactly what should arrive at your new home, your insurance company should cover the loss/damage.

How To Conduct a Household Inventory and Packing List

  1. Take copies of all important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, wills, insurance policies, deeds, etc... Keep the originals and copies separate. Originals should move with you, while copies can move with the rest of your household items.
  2. Next, you need to make a record of your belongings. This can be done quickly and easily using a video camera or digital still camera. If you choose either method, create an audio diary with it or add notes to the still photos to include information on when it was purchased and how much it's worth. It's probably best to record how much you paid for the item and let the insurance agency determine its value.

    If using a video camera, have someone help you by holding items, opening doors and drawers to make sure you get a complete record.

    If you don't have either a video or still camera, you can still create a written record by using an already existing list - obtained from your insurance company or on a simple notepad or computer program. Again, record when the item was purchased and how much you paid for it at the time.

    In addition, record serial numbers or any distinctive features, just in case the item goes missing.

  3. Depending on what you own, photograph or describe most items you own. Even items of clothing, kitchen pieces and garage tools should be recorded, especially if there's a value attached. This will also help the moving company should some of your items go missing. They can retrace their steps, check with other customers to see if your items can be located.
  4. After you've finished your documentation, make copies of the list, video tape and or digital photos. Keep copies with a friend or relative, while you keep the original copy. This will ensure that a copy can be found even if you lose the original.
  5. Finally, use your inventory list for the moving company to get a more accurate estimate of what your move will cost. In addition, this will also help you determine if you need additional moving insurance to what is offered through your movers or home insurance.
  6. This inventory record can also be kept in case of emergencies, such as a fire or other natural disaster. It can also help should your home be broken into. Serial numbers and good descriptions can help recover your items.

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