In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the importance of keeping lists and photos of your possessions in case of an emergency. To explore this topic further, I’ve invited Diane Hamilton to talk about why and how to take a home inventory.
DH: The two most important reasons for maintaining a home inventory are to get organized and for peace of mind. Let’s look at organization first.
The level of organization in our lives can significantly affect our well-being and potential and a home inventory is all about getting organized. A good tool like our product Home Inventory will let you store all the information about your possessions, including receipts, warranties, user manuals and notes, electronically all in one place. Imagine being able to get rid of the clutter these things create! With Home Inventory, all the information is accessible instantly, whether it’s to check the warranty for the broken washing machine or to get a list of your possessions to prepare for a move or a garage sale. The ways to use the information from a good home inventory is endless.
What about peace of mind? Sometimes the unexpected does happen. We buy property insurance for this exact reason. To protect our investment just in case!
Having property insurance is only part of the picture. The last thing you want to have to do after the unexpected happens is come up with a list of your possessions and try to come up with proof of possession and value when filing a claim or police report. I have a family member who lost their house during Hurricane Isabel. They did not have a home inventory. It was a very challenging time for them and made us all realize just how important an inventory is.
An up-to-date home inventory helps you be prepared at any time and may even speed up the claims process. A good home inventory will also help to make sure you are not under-insured or over-insured. A good home inventory gives you that peace of mind.
GT: If clients are overwhelmed, where should they start inventorying?
DH: We meet with experts in the insurance industry and home inventory profession regularly to make sure Home Inventory meets industry standards and that the process to create and maintain an inventory is as quick and easy as possible.
The key to building an accurate inventory is to use a methodical approach. First, make a list of all the rooms in your home, including your closets, garage, and other storage places. Then pick a room to start with and make a list of all your possessions in that room and take pictures. Go back and add details such as serial number, value, and receipts and other documents over time. Tackle one room at a time so it is not overwhelming.
Once you have built your inventory, it’s important to keep it up-to-date by making it part of your household routine; for instance, when paying bills, scan important receipts in at the same time.
Before you get started, we recommend reviewing your policy details and checking with your provider to verify their specific requirements for filing a claim. Also, most policies impose limits on certain categories of items and may even require appraisals on more valuable items, so verify this as well. With this information, Home Inventory can flag items that are under-insured for you.
GT: What does NOT need to be inventoried?
DH: From an insurance perspective, we find it typical to document the quantity of some of the smaller and less expensive possessions and not the details of each individual item. A good example is socks, DVDs or even books, unless the value of the individual item is out of the ordinary.
GT: Is it a lot of work to take an inventory?
DH: If you are like me, then keeping an inventory is something that you always wanted to do in the past but seldom got beyond the first step because the task was so daunting! With Home Inventory, the amount of work required to take an inventory is greatly reduced, as well as the effort to keep it up-to-date. What used to take days and weeks can now be done in hours, depending on the size of your home.
Just like any DIY task, there is still effort involved, so if you’re not the DIY kind of person then you’re in luck. Creating a home inventory is one of the many services most professional organizers offer as well as home inventory professionals. We are proud that The Inventory Instituterecently added Home Inventory to its list of endorsed products for professionals to use to service their client.
GT: How do your products make it easier?
DH: Some people use a notepad or even a spreadsheet to inventory their home and store pictures on a CD. Our product Home inventory has significant advantages over these and other general purpose tools in that its user interface is designed from the ground up for building and maintaining a home inventory. It supports concepts specific to home inventory management such as storing unlimited photos and receipts for items, tracking warranty information and expiration dates, and even offers dated notes to keep track of repair histories, modifications, or other useful information.
Home Inventory has many features to help speed up the process. The album view allows you to dump photos of all your items into Home Inventory at once and assign them to individual items at a later time. The free companion app Home Inventory Photo Remoteallows you to add items and photos to your inventory using your iPhone , iPad, or iPod touch. With it, you can wander around the house to quickly build out your inventory instead of bringing the information back to your computer to enter. Home Inventory Photo Remote also features a barcode scanner so you can add books, CDs, DVDs and other items automatically to your home inventory, saving lots of time.
As well as making it easier to create and maintain an inventory, reporting is a breeze using Home Inventory, with support for both standard and custom reports that can be printed or saved as a PDF.
This is just a taste of some of the features that make the task of taking a home inventory quick and easy. For a full list of features feel free to visit our website at binaryformations.com.
GT: What is the process?
DH: The first step is to download Home Inventory. It is available in Apple’s Mac App Store for $ 14.99 or a free trial version is available for download on our website. If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch then also download Home Inventory Photo Remote and Home Inventory Mobile Backupfrom the App Store for iTunes. Both are free.
Home Inventory makes it very easy to follow the process we outlined above. First, add each room in your home to the list of locations. Next, add the items in each room with photos. This can all be done using your Mac or with the help of Home Inventory Photo Remote. Photos can be added from a digital camera, iSight, a web camera, or using Home Inventory Photo Remote. Both photos and receipts can be scanned in using your scanner. Detailed information can be filled in as time permits.
GT: Where is the data stored?
Your inventory should always be safe and available to you away from your computer, so the product also offers several backup options for safekeeping, including backing up your data to your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch using the free companion app Home Inventory Mobile Backup. This way your information is always available to you for viewing wherever you go.
GT: Do I need to have an iPhone to use Home Inventory?
DH: No, an iPhone is not required. Everything can be done from your Mac. If you do have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, you can take advantage of Home Inventory Photo Remote and Home Inventory Mobile Backup for remote entry and backup. Both are available for free in the App Store for iTunes.
GT: Do you have any other apps to help people with Managing Modern Life?
DH: The short answer is not yet but we are working on something!
As a company we focus on creating consumer software that enhances the quality of everyday life through increased productivity, education, and self-improvement. All of our apps, including Home Inventory, started with a personal need in our own family. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes after the birth of our son 4 years ago and my husband is on a mission to lose some extra pounds, don’t be surprised if the focus of our next app is on managing a healthy lifestyle.
Diane Hamilton is the Managing Partner of Binary Formations which she owns with her husband Kevin. In 2010, after a 20 year career working for small enterprise software vendors wearing many different hats, she and her husband Kevin followed their dream and took Binary Formations from a hobby to a full-time business designing and developing consumer apps for the Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Home Inventory is their most popular app and has been selected by Apple for multiple features in the Mac App Store including ‘New and Noteworthy’ and ‘Get Stuff Done, Apps for Productive People’. In addition to working for their business, Diane relishes in her role as a wife and as a mom to their 4 year old boy. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Home Inventory and other quality apps by Binary Formations visit their website at binaryformations.com.
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