Doing an Inventory: Part 3 - Describing Items
So, we have completed a survey of the property and built up the rooms we are going to work through. You’ll have made a note of the general state of contents – are they mostly in good order? Any glaring issues with certain rooms? But before we start with the rooms, we need to cover off few items that are not ‘standard’ in the rest of the house. These are the meters, alarms and appliances. Appliances can be fitted in all sorts of locations and not necessarily in the kitchen or utility room.
Starting with meters, we need to make sure we have a good picture of the face, with the meter panel and meter number clearly visible. Make a note of the meter number in the text accompanying the picture. If the meter is located with others in a building block, a picture with the flat or house number is a great help. A small note about its location will also help when someone else in the team may be the one to do the check-out in a year or more later. Take a well-lit picture of the reading and check to make sure all rate bands have been cycled through. If it is a Pay-As-You-Go meter, then note the available balance.
Next, the alarms: make a note of the location in the picture tag e.g. hall, kitchen, landing etc. Pictures of alarms look pretty much the same. A quick test of each alarm is very necessary. This is where the rubber-tipped stick or umbrella will come in handy. If the battery indicator is on or there is an issue with testing, then a note in the maintenance section and in the alarm section is mandatory.
Now, moving onto the rooms, it is a case of working systematically through each one. Our free Reports2Go Inventory App starts at the top – literally, the ceiling, and works down to the floor. Each room is split into Ceiling, Lighting, Walls and Skirting, Windows etc. If a section is missing, you can add your own.
In each section follow the format of describing everything in the form of Item, Description, Condition. If in the initial survey you spotted that most of the contents are in good condition, then you can save yourself a bit of time by noting in the first page summary the ‘All items are in good condition unless otherwise stated’, thus only having to point out poor/fair items and not having to repeat ‘in good condition’ over and over again.
The Reports2Go App has a built-in Intelligent Keyboard EngineTM which will prompt you with words relating to a specific section. It really makes the process of describing really straightforward.
Accompany text with pictures both giving and overall view and specific ones pointing out problem areas such as marks on the carpet or wall. Using a pen or coin for scale helps. Also tag pictures with a few words to highlight the issue.
The busiest section tends to be Fixtures and Fittings. Here it helps to take pictures first and tag them, for example, a scratch on the dining table, before describing the whole lot. If you have Siri/Alex/Google speech recognition available, then a rattling off a list of the contents can be quite satisfying. Do check the text! Speech recognition is not 100% accurate. Again, just work through the room, noting the contents and describing so it’s easy to identify. Often inventory clerks will use terms such as ‘wood effect’ or ‘brass effect’. They are not materials experts – the item looks like wood or brass. It’s perfectly OK to use such terms.
Finally, we need to cover off appliances. In our App you can specify the room, brand, model of appliance, its condition and add some photos. All appliances are then brought together in a single Appliance section in the report (the same is true of maintenance items). It is a good idea to check the rubber ring fold and powder tray for cleanliness in washing machines. Cookers and ovens should be checked for grease, trays and state of trivets. Dishwashers for the tablet compartment and cutlery basket. Check the fridge/freezer for need of defrosting and broken/cracked shelves and salad boxes.
Next time we will cover finishing off the report.
Panos, 23 October 2020
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