Service: Inventory possessions before loss

Filed under: Photo,Print,Small Business |


Together We Stand

Home Inventory and Asset Management Group, LLC

Info: 208-0287

In business: Since July 7, 2012

Number of employees: 1

The authorities evacuated Jack Tubbs and his family last summer when the Black Forest fire raged near his Flying Horse home.

“I felt displaced. I felt lost,” Tubbs said. “I did what most people did — run around like a crazy man. I took pictures of everything, taking a videotape, thinking that was adequate.”

It wasn’t, he said. The fire didn’t reach Tubbs’ neighborhood, so he did not experience loss. Since then, he’s hired Carrie Mitchell, owner of Together We Stand, Home Inventory and Asset Management Group LLC.

Methodically and piece by piece, Mitchell is conducting an inventory of every item in his home.

How it started

When people were evacuated from their Mountain Shadows homes in 2012 during the Waldo Canyon fire, some left with just the clothes they were wearing.

Others had a little more time, and ran around the house gathering valuable documents and taking photos of precious items they wanted to remember if they lost their home.

During the fire, Mitchell volunteered with her daughter Hannah, helping those who were displaced.

“It was really emotional for me,” Mitchell said. “I saw such a need. We listened to them cry, try to remember what they had.”

After a disaster, people are traumatized, and when they’re in that frame of mind is not the time to remember details about what’s in the home.

“I thought — someone needs to be proactive,” Mitchell said.

Her research showed no one in the county conducted home inventories for insurance, theft, loss. So, as the Waldo Canyon fire ended, Mitchell incorporated.

She talked with insurance agents, insurance adjusters, attorneys and police to determine what they needed in the event of an insurance claim due to damage or theft.

“I asked that if someone had a loss and had to file a claim, what would I hand to customers that they could hand to you,” Mitchell said. The people she saw who were affected by the Waldo Canyon fire were “just snapping pictures; they’re not getting the information they need.”

That involves closer, more detailed photos, serial numbers, receipts and anything that signifies the item as an original, whether a stove, collectible or down pillow.

She was amazed that no one else was doing home inventories, so she jumped in full-throttle.

How it works

After agreeing with the homeowner about the inventory, Mitchell walks through the home with its owner and voice-records a detailed description of each item.

“We go room to room, and I’m taking pictures and asking questions,” she said. “I document everything.”

“Everything” includes jewelry, guns, tools, collections, appliances, bicycles, cameras, toys, computers, art, rugs, antiques, furniture, knick-knacks and more. She takes photos of mechanical systems and floor plans.

Mitchell measures each item because photos don’t show the actual size. The homeowner will most often tell stories about the different items, or record whom he or she wants to inherit the piece.

“It’s my favorite part of what I do,” she said. “We laugh. We cry. It’s a living legacy. I used to erase the voice files, then I thought — why am I doing this? These are amazing stories. Their families can listen to these stories afterward.”

Initially, Mitchell inventoried homes after the Waldo Canyon fire to prepare them for disasters. Now the reasons include fire loss, flooding, theft and more: wills, trusts, estate planning, prenuptials, even divorce.

“Every single one of my inventories is custom for what my customers want. Some want it for the living legacy. Some want it for the insurance,” Mitchell said. “This is their inventory, not mine.”

Mitchell also inventories businesses and museums.

Carrie Mitchell spends as much time as needed thoroughly photographing and recording details of the homes she is working to inventory, and the end result gives peace of mind to owners for all kinds of reasons.

Carrie Mitchell spends as much time as needed thoroughly photographing and recording details of the homes she is working to inventory, and the end result gives peace of mind to owners for all kinds of reasons.

The cost involved

The replacement cost of “one item will pay for the inventory,” Mitchell said. She stressed she’s not an appraiser; she is a third-party documenter. Items of value should be appraised, she said, and put in the inventory.

Mitchell works fast, zipping from room to room with her voice recorder, tape measure and camera.

For most home inventories, Mitchell charges $599. Beyond that, her cost is $99 an hour. She will submit an estimate before starting work, and inventories everything from apartments to multi-million-dollar homes.

One customer wanted her to inventory only his collection of books. Another wanted her to inventory his barn with his horse tack items. And a customer who owned Civil War quilts found that she was $100,000 under-insured; to bring her insurance policy up to date cost only $5 a month, Mitchell said.

Confidential inventories

After she inventories a home, she will assign a number to the voice recording. She will then send that voice recording to a subcontract employee who will transcribe it. Prior to making hires for subcontractors, Mitchell will perform full background checks and drug testing.

Subcontractors don’t know whose home is being inventoried. The transcribed recording is then placed with the hundreds of photographs Mitchell has taken.

The entire package is placed on a flash drive, and one copy goes to the owner. Mitchell also keeps one copy of the flash drive in a safe-deposit box.

Because Mitchell deals with luxury homes, the “blind” system puts customers at ease. Only she knows whose house has which items. Beyond that, she is bonded and insured and is a member of the Better Business Bureau.

She had inventoried two homes that were lost in the Black Forest fire. The pressure was off those homeowners, she said, because they simply turned the flash drives over to their insurance agents to file the claim.

“They were so thankful,” Mitchell said. “There were no questions asked.”