Must-own tool list for every homeowner

For last week’s blog post I shared one of my favorite tool accessories, a hex head bit set. That got me thinking about all of the other must-have tools for every homeowner, so I put together a list for every new homeowner to chip away at. Enjoy.

Flashlight. Get an LED flashlight with at least 1,000 lumens and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Personally, I like Fenix flashlights. Here’s my latest review of some of their recent offerings from about 6 months ago: Flashlight Update.

Cordless drill. Don’t settle for some hand-me-down 20-year-old drill with NiCad batteries that won’t hold a charge. Get yourself a decent cordless drill with two lithium-ion batteries so you’re not stuck with dead batteries when it’s time to do work. For most light-duty projects around the house, a small 12-volt drill is enough to get the job done. I love my Milwaukee M12 3/8″ drill, and I only reach for my 18-volt drill when I have a big project where I need a ton of power.

Socket set. Get a decent socket set with 1/4” and 3/8” drives and a full line of deep sockets. Here’s a good example of such a kit for under $70 on Amazon. Don’t settle for some hand-me-down set that’s only 90% complete.

Socket wrench adapters. These will let you use your cordless drill with your socket wrenches. Thanks to socket wrench adapters, I almost never use my socket wrenches.

Bit set. Get yourself a good bit set, so you’re prepared to do whatever needs to be done with your drill. This will include Philipps, slotted, square, torx, and a magnetic bit holder. These are frequently on sale at home improvement stores.

Drill bits. Don’t settle for a bit set that includes a few commonly-sized drill bits. Get a full bit set, going up to 1/2”.

Multi-bit screwdriver. You don’t need to start off with a full screwdriver set; this will do the trick most of the time. My favorite is the MegaPro 15-in-1 screwdriver, which holds double-ended bits in the handle. And in a pinch, you can use these bits directly in your drill.

Tape measure. Get a big one with a magnetic tip.

Utility knife. Get a real knife, not one with disposable break-away blades. I love the Milwaukee Fastback because it has a huge toolbelt clip, flips open, and it’s a piece of cake to change the blades. Ideally, get a bunch of utility knives. I keep them in my office, kitchen, basement, and garage.

Hammer. For hitting stuff.

Longnose pliers. For grabbing stuff. I find longnose pliers to be much more versatile than traditional pliers, and most longnose pliers also have a built-in cutter at the base.

Adjustable wrench. I grew up calling this a crescent wrench, but Crescent is a brand name. My favorite adjustable wrench is made by Channellock, called the WideAzz. It opens over 1-1/2″, and has narrow jaws, helping it fit in tight places.

Precision screwdriver set. For tiny stuff. Here’s a kit for $8 on Amazon.

Little Giant ladder. Possibly my favorite tool on this list because it’s the best ladder ever. For most homeowners, it’s the only ladder you’ll ever need. The only complaint I’ve heard is that they can be difficult to operate, but my 11-year-old daughter doesn’t have any problem with it. Costco regularly sells the 17′ Megalite in their warehouses for $139. That’s the same one I use.

Written By

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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