12 Home Tools You Need

toolbelt without toolsA Guide for New Homeowners.

There are a bunch of “must-have tools” lists on the interwebs and many of them agree on several of the basic tools like a hammer, screwdriver, etc. As you get farther down these lists, the must-haves get more diverse, based on the types of projects that are of interest to the writer.

I thought I’d take the “priority” approach to the 12 tools that you’ll need to get (or borrow) when you move into your first home or  apartment – along with why you need it and what type to look for.

These 12 tools will get you started. Over time, you’ll discover more things you want to fix, replace or build. You’ll quickly discover that for every simple task that you want to do yourself – you need specific tools to do it right.

Welcome to the wonderful world of DIY!

I’m wrapping up each week during July with TYNF (Tools You Need Friday).

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Now, down to business with the Pre-move tools.

My absolute hands-down #1 priority tool


two measuring tapes #1

Measuring Tape


The moment you feel the urge to browse the house or apartment listings, STOP!

Go out and get a measuring tape – because you’re going to need to take it with you when you start looking at potential properties.

In the mean time, use it to measure your “stuff” – like furniture, artwork, your bicycle, curtains, or carpets – whatever bulky or cherished pieces that you’ll need to find a place for in your new home. And make a list.

Having a measuring tape pays off bigtime when you actually begin peeking in closets and under stairs. Will your king-size bed leave enough room to open the door? Pull out your tape and check for sure. “Guesstimating” can end in frustration and disappointment come moving day. Real numbers don’t lie.


If you’re apartment hunting, a 16′ tape measure is usually sufficient, since apartments are generally more compact than houses. Most 16′ tape measures have a 1/2″ wide tape and are easy to slip into your pocket or purse.

House hunters should look at a 25′ tape to cover the larger spaces involved, both inside and in the yard. These tapes are bulkier and have a 3/4″-1″ wide tape with a more curved shape to extend further without kinking.

In either case, look for a reasonable quality tape that has a belt clip and sliding mechanism to lock the tape when it’s extended.



multi-bit screwdrivers #2

Multi-Bit Screwdriver


There’s a 100% chance that you’re going to need a screwdriver when you move into your new home.

But which one?

There are 5 common screw head types – each in at least two common drive sizes. So the options are – buy 10 screwdrivers (most likely one at a time as the need arises) or – be prepared for just about any situation by investing a multi-bit screwdriver.

“Murphy’s Law” can kick in at the worst possible time, and without the right screwdriver you’re uh…you know.


Look these over carefully and play with a bunch of different types in the store before you make your decision. Don’t even consider the cheap one with the screw-off cap on the end of the handle, where the bits are stored. Your hand motions will unscrew the cap and send the bits flying every time you use it.

The better ones have an end cap that spins freely with the palm of your hand and pulls straight out to change bits. Some may have the spare bits stored in the handle like bullets in a revolver. You push out the bit you need with the one that you don’t. This is a great design to prevent misplacing bits.

Multi-bit screwdrivers are sometimes a little longer than conventional screwdrivers, so you should also consider adding a “stubby” version to your list, because there are times when a regular handle is too long for a tight space.


retractable utility knives #3

Utility Knife


Whether you’re opening that stack of packing boxes in the living room or re-shingling the porch roof, a good utility knife will make the cut. When used with a straightedge, you can make precise cuts or score cardboard, wood, plastics, drywall, wallpaper – just about anything.

It’s an essential tool for your toolbox. A utility knife can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending on how safely you use it. Always cut AWAY from you in case the knife slips.


Utility knives come in three types – Retractable blade, segmented blade, and fixed blade. Forget the fixed blade.

The two remaining types each have their own advantages and disadvantages so it will really come down to a personal choice. Retractable blades are reversible, which means when the blade gets dull you can open the knife, turn the blade around and use the other end. Segmented blades are retractable as well, but you can snap off a section at the end of the blade, exposing a sharp tip and edge for use.

One advantage of the segmented type is that the blade can be extended further from the knife body itself if you need more clearance. USE CAUTION: This can be DANGEROUS because the unsupported blade can snap off under pressure.


(Part 2) Moving-in Tools

(Part 3) Maintenance Tools

(Part 4) Project Tools

(Part 5) Power Drill/Driver


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