10 Basic tools every homeowner should have.

January 18, 2018

For Anna and I, we scrimped, saved, sacrificed, and dreamed of owning our own home from day one of our marriage. At times it seemed that we would never have the ability to be homeowners due to a myriad of reasons, and it seemed that with each child the desire grew, but the reality seemed a little more out of reach. Once we finally had our finances in order, and ended the long search for a place to call home, it was one of the greatest days of our life.

Needless to say, we place great personal value in owning a home, and hope to be able to properly maintain it. But, proper maintenance requires the proper tools. Keep in mind that there are many handy tools for homeownership, and a homeowner does not need all of the required tools immediately. We have started out with the most basic tools every homeowner should have when starting to build their tool repertoire. This is by no means a complete list, and we will be adding more specific tools as we go!

10 Basic must-have hand tools:
Phase 1 Tools you will likely need within the first year of home ownership.

1. Claw Hammer – This is the universal hammer with a flat head on front to drive nails and a claw for prying up objects on the back. Some even have a magnetic nail starter on front that help you hammer in a nail without the need to hold the nail in place with the opposite hand. This can come in very handy in a pinch.

2. Adjustable Wrench (Spanner for those in the UK) – An adjustable wrench has one fixed jaw and one adjustable jaw that allows you to adjust the size to fit a wide variety of nuts, bolts, and other fasteners. If you are on a tight budget and are in need of a wrench this should be the first that you purchase. Pick up both a big one and a small one for more versatility.

3. Foldable Allen Wrench – An allen wrench is a small hexagon faced, often L shaped, wrench. If you have ever assembled furniture from Ikea or Target, you have probably used one they provided to assemble the furniture. What is great about a foldable set is that it is set up like a folding Swiss Army knife with nearly every useful size in one compact place. Pick up one standard inch (SAE) and one Metric and you will be set. Honestly, this is one of my most often used tools.  

4. Multi Bit Screwdriver – A multi bit screwdriver is a screwdriver that can quickly change not only the type of driver head (phillips head or flat head) but also the size of the head. For quick jobs it can’t be beat, but can be harder to use in tight spaces, or if a longer shaft is required. Eventually you will want to purchase a full set of screwdrivers, but in the short term, this will serve you fine.  

5. Tape measure – 25 ft – This, well it measures the length of stuff, just as the name says. This is by far my most used, and most misplaced tool item. Pick up one that is at least 25 ft so you can measure the full length of large rooms if need be. No in fact pick up two and hide one away knowing that it will go missing at the most inopportune time. I personally like tape measures that is self locking.

6. Bubble Level – Every homeowner needs to hang things on a wall at some point, and this is a nearly impossible task to perform properly without one of these magical little things. I started out with an 8 inch which worked great, but once I got my 2 and 4 ft levels, I rarely used my little 8in.

7. Basic Pliers Set – These are invaluable hand tools for gripping, cutting, stabilizing, and bending all sorts of small things. When looking for a pliers set, looks for one that has the following: long nose pliers, diagonal pliers (for cutting), slip joint pliers (for gripping round objects), and lineman pliers.

8. Utility Knife – I prefer a folding utility knife that can clip onto my pocket. I use it for all of my cutting needs.

9. Putty knife – 1 ¼ in – This cheap little metal blade can patch drywall, a concrete floor, a wood table, and just about any other surface that needs patching. It also doubles as a scraper, and even a cutting blade if in a real pinch. I find so much use for my putty knife that I actually have three, one for my tool box, one for my garage, and one for my shop.

10. Stud finder – First, let me say that I am going to avoid all of the cliche jokes that usually go along with the name of this tool. Second, if you have interior walls, which I assume all homeowners do, then a stud finder is a must for hanging and mounting on the interior walls. Whenever mounting heavy objects or shelves always mount in a wall stud when possible. The stud finder makes that task much easier.

We hope these design/home basics posts will be helpful for you throughout the year! Let me know if you have any questions below:)

– Gabe

Leave a Comment

  • This is an awesome post, Gabe. And I can’t believe you passed on your opportunity to say a stud-finder joke! We love those in our house.

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      Thank you Bridget, you are very kind. I don’t do much writing around here, and it kind of makes me nervous. Like, Molly Shannon “Superstar” nervous, and therefore I don’t know if Anna’s regular readers are ready for my amazingly dry/corny over the top “dad” humor side. I’ll be honest though, it was a hard opportunity to pass up.

  • I’m ashamed to say I basically don’t know how to use any of those tools! I have some of them on hand… but I wouldn’t know how to use them if my life depended on it right now, haha (except possibly the knives? 😉 !

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      Charmaine, knife skills are very good to know… on multiple levels… especially in the kitchen, and when getting attacked by ninjas and zombies;) If you want to know how and when to use any of the above tools we can try and point you in the right direction.

  • One of my best tools Is the one my good friend has. Yes, a “good Friend” with tools is the one I like to have in my tool kit.? Great starter set, Gabe!

  • I love that Gabe took over for this one! Also, I see some definite holes in our current toolbox!

  • Bailey Schroeder

    Great post! For our first Christmas after we got married I got my husband tools but there are a few things you listed that he still doesn’t have. He’s not a particularly handy guy but is eager to learn how to repair things around the house. Would you ever consider some demo videos for basic home repairs?

    • Gabriel Liesemeyer

      Thank you Bailey. Anna and I have actually been pondering upon doing a few. Are there any specific repairs on his mind?

      • Bailey Schroeder

        Leaky faucet, installing a new light fixture, repairing/patching drywall, installing drywall, creaky floorboards, removing tile from walls, installing tile on the floor, and how to properly tear out a wall. Would also love some of Anna’s input about the best way to design a large open space. We are hoping to tear out a huge wall that will open out kitchen to our living room and can’t quite put our nose on how we want to design the large open space and how we start tearing down walls! (We have been in our fixer-upper for 5 years and have done one major project each year and are trying to continue on that track.)

        • Gabe Liesemeyer

          Thank you for the suggestions. That’s a good list, especially since it runs the spectrum easy to possibly very complicated. Anna and I will keep those in mind as we move forward. Quick thought in terms of a wall removal. Be sure to check if the wall is load bearing. If it is you will want to call a professional to do the work because you will need a to install an I-beam to support the weight. That can get complicated.

  • This is SO useful – even for apartment living, I think – we are *hopeful* homeowners someday. I am so itching for our own home and saving every penny where we can. We just got married in October and honestly besides being useful and helpful, this post is inspiring because we are coming from a similar place you and Anna did! 🙂

    One note (a funny one) about our little bubble level: we have one that is literally 2inches. We lose it ALL OF THE TIME. So many fights have been caused from this. We just joked that when we finally buy a home we are going to throw our little piece of trash bubble level from the highest window we can find. The one you describe good recommendation for a replacement!!

    • Gabe Liesemeyer

      Hello Taylor, thank you for you kind words. Speaking from experience, you will get there some day, and know that all of the toil, dreaming, and sacrifices to make it happen just makes that day even sweeter when it arrives. I can relate to your lil’ level, but I would recommend you consider saving that little thing. For Anna and I, those little pieces turn into little trophies filled with memories. Stow it away, and you may find that some future day you find it at a very opportune time. 🙂

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