If you’re not particularly handy and you’ve recently purchased a home, you already know. Nothing takes the shine off first-time homeownership like the realization that you’re suddenly responsible for your own maintenance. Don’t panic! We asked our AAA House Managers to assemble a list of the tools you’ll need to tackle a good number of the most common home maintenance challenges. Sure, owning an Allen wrench won’t turn you into Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, but a good place to start!
1. Here's why we love the Allen wrench
It can be used from everything from picking a lock to repairing a bicycle. Plus, build-it-yourself furniture is virtually unbuildable without one. (IKEA specializes in furniture that requires the handy L-shaped tool to assemble.) But that’s not all. Our friends at TheSpruce.com have devoted an entire article to how the Allen wrench can be used to unjam a garbage disposal. Allen wrenches (also called hex keys) come in a variety of sizes and are typically sold by the set.
2. It's Hammer Time and you nailed it!
On second thought, maybe we should have started with the claw hammer. (That’s the hammer that features a flat side for pounding and a curved side for extracting nails...but you knew that.) There’s a reason the claw hammer is the most common. It’s lightweight, versatile and perfect for wood-working projects of all kinds. Keep in mind: the size of your hammer should correspond with the size of your nail. Claw hammers tend to be preferable for bigger projects.
3. Meet your new best friend: the cordless drill.
This is a seriously useful tool, particularly if you’re working outside of the standard drill bit set (i.e. drilling pilot holes or extra large ones). Cordless drills are powerful and can be used to drive bolts into concrete surfaces, install drywall or even add some extra pep to your pepper grinder. (No, seriously.) Best of all, it’s battery-powered. No outlet required. You could make the case they’re safer, too. Nobody ever tripped over the cord of a cordless drill.
4. Next up is the screwdriver. (Hold the OJ.)
Perfect for assembling furniture or appliances, tightening cabinet knobs, changing out a switch plate, and any number of other household tasks. Like the Allen wrench, there are a variety of screwheads and sizes available. Our House Managers suggest purchasing a set of manual screwdrivers. A pair of flatheads (6 and 8 inches) and a Phillips should do the trick for the majority of uses.
5. Did somebody say tape measure?
If they did, they’ve probably used one to make certain a new piece of furniture or a washer dryer set fit where they were supposed to fit before buying them. Tape measures can also be useful in determining the center point for a new painting. (Psst: You’ll need a level for that task, too.) Our House Managers are partial to the old-school, 25-foot Stanley PowerLock Tape Measure, but digital tape measures have their advantages, particularly if you’re somebody who doesn’t like to jot down measurements in a notebook.
6. Needles-nose pliers? Tongue-and-groove pliers?
Yes! Pliers are indispensable, but, like Allen wrenches and screwdrivers, there is more than one type. (You might say it can be hard to get a grip on all of the options.) We narrowed the list down to the needle-nose and the tongue-and-groove and decided to include both. Electrical repair. Basic plumbing. Odd jobs. It simply doesn’t happen without a reliable set of pliers.
7. Keep it together in a tool box.
Finally, what are you going to put all of those new tools in? A tool box, naturally. Tool boxes really aren’t for show. It’s a worthwhile investment, not least because a tool box will help to ensure you don’t lose your tools. Our House Managers recommend something that’s lightweight, secure, and easy-to-haul.
We're going to sneak in one more tool that wasn't on our House Manager's list — our House Managers themselves! The truth is, no matter how well prepared you are, you could always use help. Our House Managers are dedicated professionals with years of experience in all aspects of home maintenance. If you come across a job that you can't get done with one of the tools above, they'll no doubt have what you need.
You’ve taken the plunge into homeownership. (Congratulations!) Now it’s time to dive into the world of DIY home repair by investing in your first set of tools. The good news is you don’t have to be a certified handyman or a heavy duty tool user to be responsible for your home’s maintenance...but you do need tools. Fill your newly purchased kit with the tools described above and you’ll be well on your way to successfully tackling your first home improvement project.