Let’s say you come home from work one afternoon, and your house is lying at the bottom of a sink hole. Or worse. Fire. Tornado. Hurricane. Theft. Flood.
It could happen. Do you have an inventory of everything in your house? Me neither and changed as of today.
My daughter is nearly a year old. We’re settled and comfortable as a family. I’ve been thinking more about home life.
Home. It’s more than where we live. Home is what and where we are. More time is devoted to living at home than any other activity (though it may not seem that way with kids and career).
To consider the value of your home, ask yourself the question: “What would happen if my home was destroyed?” Ask another: “Would I have a record of what was lost to show my insurance company? Would they pay more for a list or less from memory?”
For some Mac users losing a home and belongings would be almost as bad as having someone steal your Mac. Almost.
For the rest of us, give some thought to the disaster. Do we have an accurate record of the belongings in our homes? The insurance company prefers a list, not a good memory.
Losing a home and possessions is a sobering thought. Here’s what I’ve done to remove the sobriety from the situation (that really doesn’t sound quite right, does it?).
Photographs and Home Inventory.
Taking photographs was the easy part and didn’t take 30-minutes. I have a wide angle lens on my digital camera, so I started taking photos in each room and stuffing them into a special album in iPhoto.
For shelves with books, valued items, and knick knacks (for the careful Mac spellers, please note that I tried “nic nac” and that didn’t look right, either) I simply took more photos.
Digital photos are very inexpensive to take and save, so there’s no such thing as having too many. I opened closet doors and took photos, top and bottom. Jewelry boxes. Dresser drawers. Kitchen cabinets. Garage. If it was ours, I took a photo.
Hundreds of photos fit on a single CD and I made a couple of copies. One copy for each parent (his and mine). One copy for the safe deposit box.
All total, less than an hour from start to finish. 30 minutes with a video camera and I would have even more assurance that what I told the insurance people I had is what I had.
Then I started to think about this whole situation—disaster and catastrophe. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!! No, I’m not old enough to remember the original ‘Lost in Space’ (though I’ve been accused of being a space cadet). I saw all the reruns day after day, and June Lockhart is my mom.
Disaster and catastrophe. Making a list of everything I own. That thought alone sounded like more work than I could squeeze into 30 minutes or an hour.
What I found that looked promising and affordable is Home Inventory. It’s a home inventory management application for the Mac. Duh.
Think of this as a classy database for what you own. Keep it simple or make it detailed. You choose.
Basic information includes item name, description, model, serial number (try that with your digital camera), insurance category, manufacturer.
See? There’s already more information to collect than we’d gather by simply thinking of what to put into a spreadsheet.
Wait. There’s more. How about information like cost, date of purchase, replacement value, warranty information, store where item was purchased, and photographs.
Whoa. Photographs. Yes. Home Inventory lets you take photos and shove them into the database Picture Album. Cool. The photos can be re-used for other items, too.
Data can be exported to Excel and FileMaker Pro, and, depending on how much you own and inventory, the whole thing can still fit on a CD for safeguarding outside of your home.
Perfect. Except for the actual entering data part. It’s not 30 minutes to an hour. It’s tedious and needs updating regularly (humans are prone to buying more stuff; especially when children are on the loose; or about to be).
Home Inventory is my ongoing family project and requires very little time to get started, and less time to maintain. When done, I’m ready for any disaster. Except more children.
What about you? What do you do to list your home’s inventory? What would you do following a disaster or catastrophe which destroyed your home? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.