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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

Perform Home Inventory when Moving

Moving houses can be deceptive: what is actually a detailed and often complicated task can often be seemingly doable. This applies even more when hiring full service movers; simply sit back and watch as they do all the work, right? Wrong! Even just hiring a moving company takes a fair bit of effort. One task that often goes overlooked until it’s too late is performing a home inventory. Unsure of what we speak of? From understanding home inventories and their importance to the run-down on how to perform it, here’s our comprehensive guide on how to perform a home inventory.


What Is A Home Inventory?

Before we run off to the ‘how’, we felt like it was important to properly address the ‘what’.

Simply put, a home inventory is an all-encompassing informative list of all your possessions. This includes basic things like gym equipment and furniture, necessities like clothes, as well as the valuables like crystal sets and jewelry.

Why Is It Important To Perform A Home Inventory?

You don’t have to be in a particular situation to make a home inventory; in fact, the sooner you go about it, the better. Home inventories are important for a number of reasons, namely when moving and filing for claims.

Downsizing: When we’ve lived in one place too long, it becomes easy to let things pile up. But there’s no better way to realize how much you’ve accumulated over the years than with a home inventory. Listing out things can help you get rid of everything unnecessary, making your home cleaner and leaving you with a lot more space and a lot less garbage.

See also: How to Downsize When Moving

Saving Money When Moving: Moving homes is anything but cheap, and the costs you incur will start to pile up one over the other. But getting a proper understanding of just what and how much you’ll move will help you better sort it out. One of the things that factors into your final quote a lot is the total weight of your shipment. Performing a home inventory will help you prioritize your items, and you can easily chalk out and separate all the things that need to be donated, given away, sold off in a yard sale or thrown out. Remember, the lesser you have to move, the cheaper your move will be!

Accuracy: When contacting moving companies, one of the things they’ll do is perform a walk-through inventory, either in person or virtually. This helps the movers understand how much man-power and time they’ll need, and how big a truck they’ll require, helping them give you an accurate quote for a move. Having an accurate home inventory of your own on hand can help save loads of time when the walk-through is taking place, and help with getting a more accurate quote.

Homeowners/Renters Coverage: The cost of personal items that are damaged or stolen in your home can be covered in your homeowners or renters policy. This is particularly beneficial when natural disasters strike. But without knowing just what you’ve lost or its value, you can wave that money goodbye. It can also help you speed up the process of filing casualty claims.

Better Packing Preparation: One of the most unexpected challenges when moving homes is acquiring packing materials. Packing materials don’t come cheap, and yet, cutting corners with them will lead to you using low quality materials, which in turn are bound to cause some damage or the other to your furniture and other items. Having a home inventory lets you know just how much special fragile-only packing material you’ll need, just how many cheap boxes can be used for less valuable items and things like pillows, and so on. There’s no worry of overspending and buying too much if you have an inventory to refer to.

Saving Time: We won’t lie, performing a home inventory is a time-consuming process that can turn your rooms upside down for a little while. But in the long run, this one task can help you immensely if done right. You’ll have only to refer to the inventory to check if things are old and need replacing, and you’ll never land up buying something only to later realize you had an unused one lying in some corner of your house. The convenience and efficiency of a home inventory can’t possibly be understated, especially in the long run.


How To Perform A Home Inventory?

Now to tackle the main question: how do you actually go about noting down and organizing a massive list of every single thing you own? We won’t be surprised if you’ve got beads of sweat dripping down, but don’t worry. Organization brings a level of possibility to every seemingly impossible task, and thankfully, there’s plenty of organized ways in which you can go about performing a home inventory.

1. Go By The Rooms

You’re going to tackle this task by going from room to room, so list out the order in which you’ll approach this. Since preparing a home inventory can be quite a mammoth task, we suggest beginning with a more organized room, like a bedroom or the kitchen. On the other hand, you can always tackle the bull by the horns and get rid of the messy rooms first. These would be the garage, the attic and any other ramshackle storage rooms.

When starting off, make sure you start with the bigger, more obvious items in the room (large pieces of furniture, large appliances, etc). This could be the wardrobe or the beds in the bedroom, the fridge in the kitchen, and so on. Be particularly careful about noting down the details of items that are rare, antique and valuable.

2. Making The List

There’s a few ways to go about making your massive home inventory list, and you can use whichever one you prefer to make the task easier on you.

Pen & Paper

If you’re old school and prefer pen and paper, go right ahead. However, make sure you pick out a sturdy book, and not just a scrap notebook or pieces of paper. The more organized you are, the better. You may mess things up, but as long as you write clearly, you can always re-write your list to make it neater after you’re done with the inventory.


If you’re tech-savvy, make use of a tool like Excel to list things out neatly. Of course, you could just jot things down on your phone, but we advise against that. Making a digital inventory gives you the benefit of convenience, since they’re extremely easy to revisit and edit without any mess. You can also download them and print out as many copies as you need - a great benefit for when you need multiple lists on moving day.

If you can’t imagine the hassle of listing it all out, there’s a bunch of free and paid apps to come to your rescue. These help you with keeping an organized track of everything alongside their images. Some of these apps are:

● Nest Egg (iOS) free to $3.99
● Sortly (iOS, Android) free
● MyStuff Pro (iOS) $19
● Encircle (iOS, Android) free


A visual aspect to your inventory is not only easy, but also adds an element of reliability and practicality. Taking a photograph of all the logged items serves as visual proof of the details you’ve penned, and also makes it easy for others to understand their current state. Simply clicking photos seems easy, but beware, there’s organization involved here too. For one, your phone or camera will be flooded with images so make sure you backup your photos onto a secure online storage site. Organize your photos into files, either by the type of item or by room.

You can also get everything on video and narrate out the needed details as you record it. Get someone to help you out so you aren’t trying to juggle a camera in one hand and objects to be videoed in the other. Also ensure you have the basics in place, like proper lighting and audio. You don’t want this painstaking process to be drowned out by background noise or insufficient lighting!

If you're going the digital way, you don’t have to worry about misplacing it or accidentally having it mistaken for scrap paper and thrown away - haven’t we all been there? But do ensure you create a backup if you have the option because technology can be as finicky as it is reliable. We recommend using a combination of lists and photos; take a photo for every item you list out. If the apps seem more your thing, definitely opt for one that lets you organize your lists alongside the photos that correspond to them.

3. What To Note Down

Whatever way you choose to create your inventory, make sure your lists are divided according to the rooms of your house. This makes it much easier to come back and refer to the list once it’s made. Plus, don’t simply go around writing things you see. Part of how to perform a home inventory correctly is to know what information you need to include. For each item you log, make sure you mention the following:

● A brief description of the item
● The serial number, manufacturer and model/make number
● The date of purchase (even mentioning the year should do in case you don’t remember more details)
● The price at the time of purchase and the estimated price now
● The location where you bought it (make sure you mention if it was ordered for online)

As you clean, list out items that don’t have receipts/purchase contracts/proof of purchase. And when you do find such documents, file them neatly into a sturdy file. Don’t try to pair up the receipts with their items while listing out the inventory as this is bound to get chaotic and confusing. Keep them organized and to the side so you can deal with them once your inventory is done.

Tips When Performing A Home Inventory

Items In Storage: Make sure you don’t forget about any items you may have in storage, and pay a visit to the storage unit or site to get an accurate inventory of all the things stored there.

Groups Items Together: Don’t try to make lists of each and every item, but instead list and group things together. For example, 3 pairs of jeans, 6 sets of books, 3 jackets, etc.

Look Out For Boxes: If you’re creating a home inventory before a move, keep an eye out for boxes and other such things you can use as packing materials. Keep boxes of appliances to pack them up in, and even retain the older boxes. These can always be made sturdy with tape or repurposed to be used as stuffing.

Helping Hands: When you decide to go about performing a home inventory, make sure you have another pair of hands to help you out. Performing a home inventory can be time-consuming and doing it alone can soon become a tiring task.

Keep A Copy On Moving Day: If you have a move coming up, keep a physical and digital copy of the inventory with you. This serves as reference for you and for the movers, and helps you get your bearings when unpacking.

See also: Moving Day Tips

Calculate Weight: What if you happen to identify with the ever-organized Monica from ‘Friends’, and choose to add the approximate weight of items to your details? No worries, since there’s several apps that can calculate the approximate weight and volume of things.

Destination Rooms: If you’re preparing for a move, list out the destination rooms next to all the items you inventory. This will help loads when labeling boxes and speed up the moving process.
Post The Inventory

Fill In The Blanks: Once you’re done with your inventory, compare the receipts to the items and tick off the items that have their receipts. This way, you know which ones are missing/lost and have a good grip of the ones that are still around, but were previously disorganized. This helps you immensely in case you ever need to file a claim.

Maintain The List: Now that you’ve painstakingly created your list, make sure you update it regularly. Add receipts for items that you purchase, and log them.

Create A Backup: Make sure you create a backup of your list and keep it somewhere safe.



What Should Be Included In Home Inventory?

When making a home inventory, make sure that you list down every item you own, including those that are in storage. Include details like their make and model, serial number, date and price of purchase, and current condition.

What Is The Best Home Inventory App?

There’s a number of home inventory apps you can use, and you can choose which one suits you best. Some of them are:

Sortly (iOS, Android) - helps you organize by folder and subfolder, lets you add searchable tags and upto 8 images per item.
Nest Egg (iOS) - scan barcodes of items to retrieve product information, add up to 10 photos per item.
Encircle (iOS, Android) - create a complete, detailed picture inventory of your house which is easy to navigate and use within an hour.

Why Should You Complete A Home Inventory?

Completing a home inventory has a range of benefits, among which are helping you with claims processes, giving you an estimate of how much you have to move when moving houses and bringing about a sense of organization.

How do I make a moving list?

First, select your method of choice. Some folks opt for a simple notebook or a designated journal whereas others prefer to go down the digital route. There are a number of apps and programs like Excel that cater specifically towards making a moving list, organizing inventory, etc. You can also find video tutorials that offer particular tips, tricks, and even free formats to work with.

Why should you complete a home inventory?

Moving can be a very stressful ordeal, therefore having a completed home inventory helps in saving both time and money. Inventories allow you to keep track of all your belongings and what their purpose is in the household. It acts as a physical as well as a visual reminder in case you forget something or anything that gets misplaced or left behind.

How do you keep track of boxes when moving?

Every seasoned mover knows that having sturdy boxes is the key to a safe move. It is highly recommended to keep track of boxes, especially the ones that appliances originally came in, as well as other potential packing material by maintaining an inventory and even taking pictures and measurements of the boxes. This will help you get an idea of what it can be used to transport and what would be the best way to store it.

Is there an app for inventory?

There are a couple of apps that you can use to  maintain an inventory, such as:

  • Nest Egg (iOS); free to $3.99
  • Sortly (iOS, Android); free
  • MyStuff Pro (iOS); $19
  • Encircle (iOS, Android); free

How detailed should a home inventory be?

The length and content of a home inventory are completely up to the homeowner. Most individuals include the description of the item i.e. the serial number, make, model, date of purchase, receipts (if any), and value (estimated). This should give you a good idea of how much it is worth as well as help with insurance.  A completed inventory keeps track of items in storage and can come in handy in the case of a fire or robbery. At the same time, it isn’t necessary to list everything and anything. You can club items together by similarities and even room to make it easier while packing and even packing in the new house.

What is the first thing to do when moving?

The first thing to do when moving is to declutter. Take a tour of your apartment or house and room by room start to make a list of the things you wish to move along with you and those items that need to be discarded or donated. This saves up on space, time, money, and a whole lot of energy when the big day finally comes along.

What should I pack first when moving?

A good rule of thumb: what gets used the least, gets packed first. These would include items such as those in storage, art pieces, holiday decorations, clothes that you will not wear during the moving process, etc. This will allow you to kick-start your packing and at the same time spare you the pain of rummaging through boxes unnecessarily.

How do you declutter before moving?

It’s always a surprise when you realize how much stuff you actually own. Moving to a new place is the best excuse one can have to get rid of stuff. Start by organizing items into ‘Keep’, ‘Store’, and ‘Throw’. It’s always recommended to start with items of sentimental value as those take the most effort to decide upon. Those items that just seem to hang around may be taking up space. If you haven’t worn or used them in the last 6 months, you might have to do something about it.

How do I take inventory of my belongings?

Taking inventory of your belongings is quite easy. You can simply use a book or an inventory app as well as a combination of both. Programs like Excel are also convenient when organizing your household. Others include taking pictures of the items, which would give you an idea of what they look like and can also come in handy as proof for insurance in case of damage.

When filing a claim you should have an inventory list of what three areas of important information?

Having a detailed and completed home inventory helps you prove your loss and get paid the most money by your insurance company if you in case you have to make a claim.

  • The description of the item along with the serial number, make, and model.
  • Receipts or photos in an attachment for visual proof.
  • Date of purchase as well as the estimated replacement cost if you bought the item on the day of the claim.

What are the average monthly costs for homeowners and renters insurance across the US?

The average cost of renters’ insurance can vary between $12 and $37 per month based on which state you live in and the policies governing it. This insurance policy covers and adds a layer of protection over you and your belongings. In the US, the southern states seem to have higher rates as insurance companies view them as being more susceptible to natural calamities.


Now that you know how to perform a home inventory, we urge you to get down to it as soon as possible. Whatever you do, no matter how much you procrastinate and put it off, make sure it's the first thing you do when you decide to move houses. Put it as high up on your moving timeline as possible, and let everything else fall into place after that. One of the most harmful things when moving is disorganization, and this will not only stress you out, but also make it harder for the movers to give you an accurate estimate and do their jobs of packing properly.