6 Steps to Create a Home Inventory to Track What You're Moving

Person taping up a cardboard box to pack books

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Even though you've packed all your stuff carefully and have ensured you haven't left anything behind, there's still the possibility that things can go missing between your old house and the new space. If you're hiring movers, it's even more critical that you check that everything has arrived before you sign-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. 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

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.

Note that if you're hiring movers to move your stuff, they'll also provide you with a record of what they moved and a list you'll refer to when they move you into your new home. They should tag all your items and note what the item is before it leaves your home. While this list serves as a good reference of what's been moved, it won't detail what has been packed in each box or bag. That's why an inventory list is so important. 

Take Copies of All Important Documents

If you don't have electronic copies, make sure you get copies of your records such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, wills, insurance policies, deeds, etc..Keep the originals and copies separate. Originals should move with you as you travel to your new home, while copies can move with the rest of your household items.

Make a Record of Your Belongings

This can be done quickly and easily using a video camera or your phone's 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.

Use an Existing List of Household Stuff

You can also 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.

Take Pics of All Your Stuff

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.

Copy the List

After you've finished your documentation, make copies of the list, video, 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.

Use the List to Get an Accurate Moving Quote and Insurance Rate

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.