bought my first house in 1997. My wife and I started a handwritten list — remember, it was back in the last century — of all the improvements we did, like “new carpet”, “new entry lights”, “remodel bathroom”, etc, along with the date and the cost. And then of course at some point we filed it in the wrong place and could never find it. So we started over.
This time, we did it in an Excel spreadsheet and printed out a hard copy for our “house” file. And then I bought a new computer and apparently forgot to migrate that file, or else renamed it something that I now couldn’t find, so it was lost to the ether as well. And by the time we thought about the paper copy, we had put that in an annual tax box and moved it to a storage unit. It may be findable, but I’m not going to spend half a day digging through boxes in a hot storage unit looking for it!
Over the years we have added a few rental properties, and while I really want to write down every important detail, I usually don’t remember to do it in a timely fashion; it’s usually at tax time every year when I’m calculating deductions that we sit around and try to remember all the little stuff that we did, and then spend several more hours looking for receipts to prove it.
You might ask, “why not just use Quicken or Quickbooks”? We do, and that is helpful (assuming we have entered everything in correctly), but it didn’t give us the level of detail that I wanted. Those products are built from an accounting standpoint, not from a property maintenance and management view. I wanted to be able to be standing in Home Depot looking for a part and be easily able to look on my phone to find out the make and model of the dishwasher I needed a part for. Or to easily find out who the contractor was that worked on my HVAC system last year. Or when the warranty expired on the refrigerator.