Tools – New Homeowner’s Starter Kit

OK, I bought a house – now what?  The new homeowner’s starter tool kit.

You’re a smart kid.

You got a good job.

You saved a little money and now you’ve gone and made one of those really significant big-kid moves – you bought a house. Congratulations. Welcome to the exciting world of home ownership.

Along with the keys that they handed you at the closing, they should have given you a copy of the Owner’s Manual. What? They didn’t hand you a leather-bound volume with gilt lettering that says “Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Your House?”  Bummer!

Alright; don’t panic. We can get through this.

Even if your house is brandy-spankin’ new, you’re going to learn pretty quickly that:

  1. There’s still stuff you need to add to it
  2. Some of the stuff that’s already there, you’re going to want to change
  3. Sooner or later all this stuff is going to break

For any one of these three eventualities you’re going to need:

  1. A creative solution
  2. A budget
  3. The right tools

I can help you with #3.

Here’s a list of the basic tools you are going to need to be a homeowner. This is not an exhaustive list – in fact there’s no such thing as an exhaustive list. That’s because there is such a thing as having “the right tool for the job.” And there are some very specialized tools for very particular jobs. There are, for example, such things as a garbage disposal wrench, a tile grout grinder and a Japanese flush-cutting cabinetry saw. But you’re not going to worry about those things until you actually tackle those specific jobs. (“Mom” and I generally establish a small wager at the beginning of any project on how many trips to the hardware store that project will require for the acquisition of new tools.)  Also, your friends at Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sears have made their stockholders very happy by continually inventing new tools that you never knew you needed; or they improve on the tools you already have. Oooo! An adjustable solar-powered socket wrench with laser-guided nut calibrator!!! I don’t have one of those!!

Hand Tools

  • Screwdrivers – one “Phillips” (x-tipped); one straight blade (normal) – you can get one of the fancy ones that has one handle and several interchangeable tips.
  • Hammer – If you don’t know what a hammer is, you need to stop reading right now and go sell your house.
  • Adjustable crescent wrench – get a little one and a big one to cover a wide range of nut sizes.
    crescent wrench
  • Saws – a wood saw (for cutting, not made of) and a hacksaw (cuts metal)
    wood sawhacksaw
  • Pliers – a couple different sizes would be helpful here too; regular old slip-joint pliers and maybe a pair of “channel lock” pipe pliers (adjusts to grab really big things)


  • Tape measure – it’s a tape that measures. Get a 25-footer. Don’t worry, it will fit in the car; it’s retractable.
    tape measure
  • Level – lets you know when things are…you know…level. Get one that’s 18-24 inches long. Don’t settle for a “torpedo” level; that has more specific uses.


  • Razer Knife – cuts stuff
    razer knife 2
  • Pencil – this is one you might already have.

Power Tools

  • Electric Drill – cordless or corded, variable speed, reversible – and a set of drill bits. You’d be surprised how many times you’ll need to put a hole in something. Also works as a high-speed screwdriver.
  • Flashlight – that’s right, a flashlight is a tool and you’ve got a lot of dark places in that new house of yours.

Outdoor Tools – if your house came with a yard, you’re going to need some things to keep it from becoming a jungle that your neighbors will complain about.

  • Lawnmower – makes tall grass into short grass
  • Wheel Barrow – for wheeling stuff around that’s too heavy or messy to carry with your hands
  • Leaf rake – for raking – you guessed it – leaves. It’s a big wide thing made of plastic, or better yet, bamboo.
    leaf rake
  • Spring rake – smaller, spring-steel tines for raking everything other than leaves
    spring rake
  • Iron rake – looks like a comb on a stick; for raking dirt and rocks
    iron rake
  • Spade – a pointy shovel for digging into stuff that doesn’t want to be disturbed
  • Shovel – a straight-edged shovel for scooping stuff that’s already on your driveway, patio, deck, garage or other flat place (hopefully not your kitchen)
  • Pruning shears – for cutting stems and small branches
    pruning shears
  • Lopping shears – for cutting larger branches and small fingers
    lopping shears
  • Hedge clippers – only if you have shrubs that need to be sculpted uniformly
    hedge shears

With these basic tools you can start to tackle some of the jobs that are going to come up. You can get these things in any hardware store. You can also hit yard sales, flea markets, consignment stores and the like. But don’t cheap out! Poorly made tools (dull blades, sloppy manufacturing or low-grade materials) can be inaccurate, frustrating and downright dangerous. A good quality tool will last you a lifetime.

Alright, now go build something!

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