Business

Keeping an inventory for when life happens

Kristina Smith, owner of Shangri-la Home Inventory Specialists, flips through the finished binder of a recent home inventory. - Phtoto by Kassie Korich
Kristina Smith, owner of Shangri-la Home Inventory Specialists, flips through the finished binder of a recent home inventory.
— image credit: Phtoto by Kassie Korich

Kristina Smith didn’t realize just how important a home inventory was until she had to catalogue her own home’s belongings.

Moving into a new home last year, Smith wanted to ensure she had a complete list of her family’s belongings for her insurance company in the event of a loss.

“Most insurance companies have standardized replacement clauses, but if you have higher-end products you need to prove to them what it was you had,” she said.

Discovering just how time consuming the task was, Smith realized it was something she could effectively and efficiently do for others.

And it wasn’t long before Shang-ri-la Home Inventory Specialists was born. Based on Chico Way, the business covers all of Kitsap County.

“My business speaks to people who don’t have the time to do it, to come up with a finished product,” she said. “In the event you have a loss, (your inventory) is there. If you have a fire, you’re awestruck, but then you have to sit down and go over what you lost.”

Offering three different packages, customers have the choice of having more than just a written inventory. The complete package includes video of the interior/exterior of the home or small business and its contents, written inventory, cataloging item identifiers and still photographs for all cataloged items. The Basic Written package offers written inventory and photographs. The third package, the Basic Video, features only the video portion. Both the inventory and photographs are presented to the customer in hard copy as well as on a CD.

“The video covers external and internal,” Smith said. “Most people put a lot into their homes, a lot of money in finish work. The video really shows details.”

Rather than charging customers by the hour, Smith charges by the square foot. A Basic Written package for a 2,000-square-foot home (including a basement or standard two-car garage) starts at $300. She suggests keeping the inventory lists stored in a safe deposit box, where they are safe from damage or burglary. Smith also provides free one-year storage of the finished inventory binder upon request. Customers also may sign up for yearly renewal options which includes updating of inventory with any additions or deletions.

Shangri-la also inventories small businesses that don’t have an inventory system in place.

“If you have inventory sitting there, you have money out,” Smith said. “It’s your investment, it’s your livelihood.”

Shangri-la customers use the inventory for reasons other than in case of a loss. Some use the inventory to find out if they are over-insured or not insured enough.

Smith recalls one couple who initially estimated the contents in their garage to be worth about $25,000. Upon completion of an inventory, the contents turned out to be worth about $60,000.

“They had all these things they didn’t consider,” Smith said. “Most people underestimate what they own.”

A home inventory also can be useful for other situations including estate planning, wills, probate and divorce, Smith explained.

“It’s not just for insurance reasons,” she said.

Just as each home is different, so is each inventory, according to Smith. How detailed certain aspects of the inventories are depends on the value of the belongings. When it comes to clothes, in many cases, a picture of the closet will be taken. But if the customer owns expensive cocktail dresses, suits or furs, for example, those articles will be photographed individually. The same goes for other items including dishes or china or even linens. As for items that come with serial and model numbers, such as TVs and computers, those also are catalogued individually.

“When you have an inventory, you have proof of what you’ve invested,” Smith said.

In keeping with preparedness, Smith also offers an extensive line of emergency kits for the home, car and office. Kits range in price and include food, water, flashlights, radios, blankets, sanitation, first-aid products and more. Emergency kits have a five-year shelf life and are designed for various groups, large or small — from a family of four to an office of 20.

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