HOMEOWNER’S GUIDE: How to Quickly and Easily Organize Important Information About Your Home

Thanks to Centriq for this guest post!

When most people think of April, it’s usually in the context of Tax Day. And getting your taxes done often requires a fair bit of work, starting with making sure you have all the paperwork, receipts, W-2s, etc. in one place. So it’s no coincidence that April is also National Records & Information Management Month.

For homeowners, there is a LOT of information about the house that they should keep track of – from receipts for any improvements, repairs, or maintenance done on the house to manuals and spare part info (what is the water filter part I need? what paint color did I use on that wall?). For most of us this information is not well organized, so when we actually need it we waste a lot of time searching for it…including types of information you might not realize.

OK, so what info should homeowners keep handy?

Here are just a few common categories of information a homeowner should have at their fingertips:

Maintenance – How often do you let things go because you don’t even know you should be doing it (or maybe you do know, but aren’t sure exactly how so you put it off)? Things like: when to clean out the dryer lint from the exhaust pipe (source of thousands of home fires every year), when to run the sanitize cycle on your front-loading washer, or when to replace that air filter or the batteries in the carbon monoxide detector.

Infrequent use – There are things many of us do once a year as part of keeping our house running. Maybe it’s winterizing the sprinkler system, or getting the pool started up again. Often times though, we forget how we did it, so we have to learn all over again… and again… year after year.

Spare parts/supplies – Most people don’t know what the part numbers are for things like water filters, air filters, even printer cartridges. And what about the different types of light bulbs in your fixtures?

Emergency Information – Do you know where your gas/water shutoff valves are on your house, and how to operate them? Does your spouse?

Garden – When should you feed/prune/water the various fruit trees in your garden? What fertilizer should you use? How much? What about the lawn?

Service providers – Who has done work on the house? Do you still have their contact info?

Receipts (including the maintenance history) – Do you still have all of the receipts for things in your home? What about the receipts from when you’ve had things serviced, like your HVAC?

Recalls – There are over 50 million recalled products in homes across the United States (because very few people register their products so the manufacturers can’t notify them). Odds are pretty good that you have one of them….

Housefax Report – You received a Housefax Report when you purchased your house, or maybe you were curious and ran one yourself. You don’t want to lose track of this information.

Speaking of losing things, get rid of the “closet of shame.”

You know what I’m talking about. For some people, it’s that kitchen drawer… for others, the bottom of a file cabinet. It’s where manuals go to die. And then, when you need them, you hunt through the pile, hoping to find the one you are looking for. Often times, you find manuals for things that aren’t even in the house anymore! Maybe you’re lucky and you do find the manual…. but what if it’s not there? Time to hunt through countless results on Google looking for the manual you need.

If only there was a way to keep all this important information in one place!

Smart homeowners are always looking for technology that makes their lives easier. One product that has emerged in the past year is Centriq, an award-winning free app that makes it easy for you to stay on top of all the information tied to your home. Think of it like a digital user guide customized to your house. Simply snap photos of the nameplate on any appliance (the make/model/serial #) and Centriq’s patent-pending system automatically brings you the user manuals, common spare parts linked to Amazon for easy shopping, and even how-to videos from experts.

The Centriq app also lets you store other important information, which you can upload from Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud, as well as contact information on service providers (so you can find them again when you need them) and receipts for any purchases or work on your home, along with other documents like permits or floorplans. It even lets you record personal video notes so you never forget how to do something that you might do infrequently, like the startup process for your pool. Centriq has also partnered with “This Old House” to give you direct access to all the great how-to content they’ve developed!

Having this information in one place is also extremely useful when it becomes time to sell your home – whether it’s making sure you take advantage of the capital gains tax savings because you have the receipts or reducing the potential buyer’s anxiety because all of the knowledge you’ve accumulated about your house and how to operate it can now easily be transferred. Think back to when you first moved into your current home – how useful would this have been for you?

About the Author

Shubber Ali is a homeowner who was frustrated having to learn yet another house (the third he’s owned), so he decided to quit his perfectly good job and co-found Centriq.