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10 Must-Have Tools for New Homeowners

Congratulations, you did it! You bought your first house! I’m sure the journey has been long and stressful for most of you, but now you can start this next season of your life in your new home. Whether you bought a new-build or a fixer-upper, all homeowners need to have some basic tools on hand for maintenance and repairs. This list will help you get started with all those projects on your list to make your house feel like home!

#1 Tape measure

Whenever I have clients following me during an inspection, I always offer them a tape measure so they can start planning furniture placement. You’ll also need this for any measurements for blinds, calculating the amount of paint to buy, and hanging a picture at the perfect height. Tape measures come in varying lengths, but I’ve found 25 feet is great to start. My personal favorite is the Crescent Lufkin 25' Command Control Series Black Clad Tape Measure.

#2 Screwdriver

A good screwdriver is essential for a homeowner, and at the very least you’ll need a slotted and a Phillips head. To save time and frustration I recommend a multi-bit screwdriver so you’re not always looking for the right head. My screwdriver-of-choice is also ratcheting for added convenience. I’d suggest the Milwaukee 48-22-2302 Multi Bit Ratcheting Screwdriver.

#3 Hammer

Hopefully you don’t need to do any serious demolition too soon after your home purchase, but you’ll probably need to hang a few shelves and pictures. A good fiberglass hammer will serve you well without breaking the bank. Something like the Irwin 16 oz. Fiberglass Claw Hammer will do the job.

#4 Ladder

You’ll never wish you had a ladder more than when you’re standing on a rotating office chair trying to silence a shrieking smoke alarm (don’t ask me how I know). This crucial tool makes many tasks easier, such as changing light bulbs, painting walls, and putting away China dishes that you forgot you owned-in the highest kitchen cabinet. I advise you to consider both a modest 3-step ladder as well as something like the Little Giant 17’ Velocity Multi Position Ladder for those hard-to-reach spots.

#5 Drill and Driver Set

If you think of yourself as handy (or you’d like to) and want to DIY some projects for your new home, you’ll most likely need some power tools. A drill will make quick work of making holes and the driver can sink screws with ease. Make sure and be careful that you don’t strip the screw and make the job harder! The set that combines quality and affordability is this M12 12-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Drill Driver/Impact Driver Combo Kit from Milwaukee. If you have a lot of projects, you might consider stepping up to an 18v or 20v system.

#6 Stud Finder

Insert dad joke here. Hanging a TV? Putting up shelves? Make sure you have a quality stud finder, so your valuables don’t unexpectedly fall. While there are some electronic stud finders that I trust, like this Franklin Sensors FS710PRO ProSensor 710+ Professional Stud Finder (with bonus spirit level), I always pull out my trusty StudBuddy Magnetic Stud Finder to guarantee I don’t miss my mark.

#7 Pliers Set

If I had a nickel for every time I needed some needle-nose pliers I probably wouldn’t be much richer, but I’d have a lot of nickels. This IRWIN VISE-GRIP Pliers Set also comes with groove joint, slip joint, and diagonal cutting pliers to complement the needle nose pliers mentioned earlier. You’ll be surprised how often this set gets used.

#8 Torpedo Level

Raise your hand if unlevel picture frames bother you?! Even in someone else’s home I can't help but straighten picture frames if I see them. I recommend spending just a few extra dollars and getting something like this Empire Level 9 Inch Magnetic Torpedo Level.

#9 Utility Knife

Nothing screams “just moved in” like opening moving boxes with scissors spread dangerously wide and waiting to cut you. A good utility knife is crucial for countless home projects and my recommendation, the Toughbuilt Scraper Utility Knife, can handle the job. This utility knife doubles as a scraper and will make quick work of removing excess paint on windows or buildup on the stovetop. It will also help you break down the pile of Amazon and Target boxes from online purchases.

#10 Flashlight

Are you afraid of the dark? You won’t be if you make sure and have a reliable battery-powered flashlight on hand. Bonus points for a rechargeable flashlight so you don’t have to dump out your junk drawer looking for batteries. This STREAMLIGHT Lumen MicroStream USB Rechargeable Pocket Flashlight also doubles as a headlamp with a built-in clip for hats!

*Bonus Item*

Hardware Kit

Okay, I know, this isn’t necessarily a tool. You will still want to keep a variety of nails and screws on hand for projects. Most kits come neatly organized and offer extras like picture hangers and drywall anchors. This Qualihome Household Repair and Hanging Kit should hold you over until you get a better idea of specific hardware needed for certain projects.

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