Financial Advice

Buy & Own a Home


Ten Tools for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home and transitioning from renter to homeowner is a big deal. You will no longer have a landlord to turn to when maintenance issues arise. That means you’ll have to be accountable when problems come up. So what do you need to be best prepared when that first unexpected issue arises? Here are 10 toolbox essentials every new homeowner should have in their basic toolbox. With a home tool set like this one, you should be able to deal with much of what comes your way on your new property.

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  1. Ladder — You don’t necessarily need to spend $400-500 on a ladder. For most basic uses, an affordable, aluminum extension ladder will do. You can use this ladder to clean gutters, hang things in high places, and paint tall walls and ceilings. A ladder of some kind is a must-have for homeowners to perform maintenance and repairs on their property. Just be careful and always have someone with you when you use a ladder.
  2. Cordless Drill — You can buy an electric drill, but the cordless variety is definitely easier to use because of its mobility, as long as you’ve remembered to keep the battery charged. On that note, it’s probably a good idea to have an extra battery so you can have one in the drill and one in the charger at all times. You can use a cordless drill for many do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. Most good models cost anywhere from $100 to $300.
  3. Hammer — You probably won’t need a fancy hammer in your toolbox, but you should definitely have a basic one. No toolbox is complete without a hammer. Luckily, you can pick up a hammer for $5 or $10 at most hardware stores. A hammer is essential for basic decorating tasks, like hanging your favorite pictures on the wall when you move in.
  4. Pliers — Not all pliers are created equally, and they don’t all do the same job. Having a three- or five-piece plier set is a good way to cover your bases. You can use pliers to grip, cut, pull, and more as you work on projects around your new home. A five-piece set generally includes a pair of slip joint pliers, an adjustable wrench, long-nose or needle-nose pliers, diagonal pliers, and groove joint pliers. A five-piece set will only set you back $10 to $15.
  5. Screwdrivers — Like pliers, there are different types of screwdrivers and it’s best to have a couple of different types and sizes in your toolbox. Luckily, screwdrivers are very inexpensive so it shouldn’t be a huge financial issue to acquire them. At a minimum, you’ll need medium-sized flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers. Some screwdrivers come with interchangeable heads, but beware that these may not work for all jobs.
  6. Tape Measure — When you get ready to buy your tape measure, make sure you get one that is 25 feet long as there are times when a 12-foot or 16-foot tape measure just won’t do the job as easily or with as much accuracy. You can use tape measures for many different home tasks, and you can usually pick one up for about $5.
  7. Levels — Levels can be tricky because some are quite fancy and expensive. In general, the first-time home buyer will be ok with a more standard type of level, although it’s still best to get at least two sizes, one small and one large. Basic levels generally cost about $10 each. If you want to save a little bit of money, you can actually use your smartphone as a level too using a free app.
  8. Stud Finders — Most first-time home buyers joyfully anticipate the ability to decorate their new homes. They cherish the opportunity to hang objects on their new walls without worrying about sacrificing their deposit. They also tend to appreciate the preservation of these new walls. If you want to hang objects without doing damage, it really is best to make sure you locate the stud behind the wall or use anchors. This is where a stud finder comes in handy. You can get a basic magnetic stud finder for about $5 or you can splurge on a digital version that can cost as much as $80.
  9. Screws, Nails, and Picture Hangers — As you work on various projects, you’ll likely acquire some nails, screws, picture hangers, and more. If you need a few just to get your collection started, you can pick up a variety pack of these items at a hardware store for $10 or less.
  10. A Go-To Handyman Resource — If you aren’t very confident in your DIY abilities or you don’t have the means to purchase some of the items on this list right away, you might want to consider finding a reliable handyman. Ask your friends, colleagues, and new neighbors for recommendations and you might consider giving him a small job or two to be sure you are well matched. Then you won’t have to scramble when you’re in a bind to fix something fast.

If you have questions about any of these tools or are new to the world of DIY, remember that you can always consult an expert at your local hardware store. Another possibility is to ask for these tools and other items as house-warming gifts from friends or family or even as a holiday or birthday gift. Ultimately, with these tools, you should be able to tackle just about any basic DIY project that might come up. Then, once you get more confident in your abilities, you can acquire more tools for those bigger jobs.