When I bought my house 17 years ago, my father and I did a lot of renovating before I moved in. Being a skilled union electrician and a hyper-organized parent, my father presented me with a binder after finishing the renovations. The binder contained a carefully organized, categorized and three-hole-punched documentation of everything that we put into the house. Appliances, wire diagrams, plumbing schematics, user manuals, floor plans, receipts, and everything and anything that we could possibly need to fix, replace or repair. The cover of the binder was entitled: “Our Home.” I cringed a little and rolled my eyes when he handed it to me only because, well, it was my dad, and I thought, "when will I ever need this?" The truth is, over the years I have referenced that binder a lot. It has become an invaluable resource and the one thing which has made my home maintenance ten times easier.
Today, in our mobile/digital world, my father would have drooled over the development of the many home organization apps developed to do what my father did almost two decades ago. I have tried a few of them, and here is my amateur review as well as some tips if you have decided it is time to document your house and everything in it.
Accord Technologies LLC has an app that is called About My Home. Simple to use, this app can organize everything for your house. It can document photos, inventory, and events for your home items. You can schedule when it is time to change the smoke detector, change the air filter, when you bought the toaster, catalog receipts and even create PDF reports of all your stuff. The same company also has three other apps that can help you organize your family members documenting shoes sizes, favorite dress colors and important life events. About My Home costs $2.99, has a 4+ rating and is available from the Apple App Store.
Centriq Technologies Inc has a similar app named simply Centriq. “This Old House,” the very popular PBS home improvement show, reviewed it recently and it is now gaining traction. The app has the ability to take a photo of the label of an appliance and within 24 hours they will automatically upload all the manuals and part numbers to the app. It will also pre-populate your app with links to Amazon in order to make purchasing typical replacement parts easy and accurate. It also can store photos of receipts and you can categorize all the items in your house. Moments after watching the review on “This Old House” I downloaded the app and started snapping pictures of my appliance labels. Three days later, with no manuals yet uploaded in my app, I received a very nice email from the president of the company. With all the traffic they got from the TV review they were more than backlogged, and to compensate, offered each user a $25 credit to the next purchase of a replacement item. If this turns out to be as good as it was reviewed, it may just replace my fathers binder. “Centriq” is free from the Apple and Google Play app stores. It currently has a 2.6 rating, but that is really from the recent deluge of requests. I think you will see this score come up after they get over the boom of requests.
HomeZada has an app HomeZada Mobile. This app seems to be the Cadillac of the apps I looked into. It is the priciest, but the most full-featured, including links into their selling site if you are looking to document and then sell your house. Either way, just documenting or renovating and selling, this app has all the features to keep track of everything during your home ownership. From improvements and inventory to home finances and home improvement tips, this app uses photos to eliminate a lot of data entry. It has features like the ability to export to an Excel spreadsheet, keep an unlimited number of photos and track your progress with a “Home Inventory Profile.” While you can download this for free at the Apple and Google Play app stores, most of the negative reviews come from the inability to access many of the features without purchasing the yearly subscription of $59. A little too much for me.
To conclude, Centriq is my pick. I found it very intuitive, has great customer service, and the additional email tips really give you a great experience. Couple that with the fact that it is free and makes shopping for the right part when you need it easy, and this is a home run. Dad would be proud.