A Tool Kit for the First-Time Homeowner

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What You'll Need
Screwdriver set
Tape measure
Pliers set
Duct tape
Utility knife
Putty knife
Hand saw
Adjustable wrench
Pry bar
Vice grips
Wire cutters
Stud finder
Socket set
Power drill
Circular saw
Power nail gun
Laser level
Safety glasses
Work gloves

Whether you own a single-bedroom condo or a three-story suburban home and whether your skill level is beginning or advanced (or somewhere inbetween), there are some must-have tools every new homeowner should own. With these easy-to-use tools discussed below, you won't have to wait or pay for someone else to make a simple fix on your home you can do yourself.

Keep in mind that the key to buying tools is to invest in quality. Cheap tools don't work well and don't last long, sometimes breaking or failing on the first use. So buy the best you can afford and build your collection over time as projects come along.

Start With the Basics

A heavy-duty toolbox with a handle is perfect for storing all your tools. A plastic one is waterproof, durable and OK to haul outdoors. Metal ones will last forever but weigh more than their plastic counterparts, making them more difficult to transport. Purchase whatever will fit your use best. Make a habit of keeping all your tools in the box so you won’t have to scramble for what you need when something breaks or leaks.

Into your toolbox goes a hammer, a set of screwdrivers, a tape measure, a set of pliers and duct tape. You’ll use the hammer for everything including hanging a picture and resetting nails on the deck. Use a variety of screwdriver sizes in both Phillips-head and flathead for odd jobs. A tape measure assures you’ll never buy a piece of furniture too big for the room and a set of pliers can tighten lose plumbing connections. The Duct tape is perfect for mending a ripped tarp or sealing up a leak until a repair technician arrives.

Build Up Your Tool Box

To these basics, add a flashlight for dark crannies or outdoor problems that happen at night (which is when they prefer to happen). A utility and putty knife are handy for opening things such as paint cans, and for spreading grout, caulk or sealant. You’ll also need a hand saw and an adjustable wrench. The hand saw is perfect for taking a little length off something too long or for removing tree limbs that scrape against the house. The adjustable wrench is great for plumbing connections.

Other useful things to have include a pry bar, vice grips (which are wonderful for holding things together until glue dries or for keeping them in place to hammer or drill), wire cutters, a level, stud finders and a socket set.

Don’t Be Afraid of Power Tools

Once you’re comfortable using hand tools, you’ll find needs for some power tools like a drill, circular saw, or a power nail gun. Drills are handy for everything from putting holes in the bottom of plastic planters to repairing broken furniture. Circular saws cut more accurately than hand saws and are great for replacing your baseboards or crown molding. A power nail gun tacks that molding right into place and is useful for many other jobs around the house. If you enjoy DIY, you’ll also want to invest in a laser level, which helps you find the plumb lines for installing shelves, doors and cabinetry.

Use Basic Tool Safety

Homeowners also need to stow a few items in the tool box that make all these projects safer. Buy a pair of safety glasses and use them whenever sawing, drilling, or doing any other task that could sling something into your eyes. A pair of gloves protects your hands and keeps them from getting blistered when sawing or hammering. Also, be sure to read all of the safety instructions that come with your tools, especially power tools.

A well-stocked tool box means you can take care of most of your home repairs and projects yourself without hiring a professional. Just buy these items as you need them and the cost over time won’t seem like much, even though you’re building a valuable collection of useful tools.