Buying a home is certainly a dream come true for many Calgarian's. But for many young first time home buyers it's often their first run at tackling the maintenance that comes with home ownership. In Canada, as of 2019, about 50% of the surveyed homeowners spent up to $2000 dollars on house maintenance, and roughly 5% spent over $20,000 dollars on renovations and fixes.
While many readers may not be jumping into major renovation projects, or always going the DIY route, there are still tons of scenarios and situations where being a little handy can go a long way in saving you time and money.
While these tools can come in many different sizes and variations we are going to include a rough price on what you should expect to pay. You can use this as a baseline to steer away from cheaper products but evaluate the upgrades that some higher end models may have that may come in handy for you and your specific needs.
Expect to pay $30-50
A standard claw hammer is usually all that you will need to hang your paintings on your wall. Just add a nail and you're good to go! However, there are many different types of hammers with various different weights and uses, for most DIY projects though a standard 13" curved claw hammer will get the job done for a lot of tasks. But we do recommend picking up more than just one hammer, buying a light weight and heavy duty hammer would be our go to for everyone starting their toolbox. Heavier hammers used for bigger nails and more outdoor or bigger construction projects, while the lighter hammer will come in handy for smaller tasks like smaller nails or tacks.
Things to look for when purchasing various hammers - First and foremost, solid grips that help maintain control and reduce impact / shock are one of the most important factors, bigger heads to increase strike area, flat smooth heads to reduce slippage and being forged as one piece are all benefits of better hammers that will last longer and be more useful in your toolbox.
Expect to pay $20
Starting with the cheapest and apparently 'useless' one, it will always be your go-to tool. Before starting any renovation project, having the dimensions covered in numbers can actually save you time and money! Some everyday examples where this comes in handy; how much paint is needed for your walls, where to hang a tv, how big your new furniture or bedroom mattress should be.
Features to look out for: Auto locking features always come in handy, reinforced frames (protect the inside mechanisms if you were to drop it), and in most cases 25-30 feet length should be enough but consider your homes overall dimensions.
They are handy tools, and having any one of them is just not enough. You will need all the shapes from Pozidriv (Have you heard about this one before) screwdriver to Phillip screwdriver to star screwdriver or even flat head screwdriver individually as each is distinct in its design and application.
Look out for multi bit screw drivers, saving you space in your tool box, with multiple heads you'll be able to tackle many different tasks / jobs with one tool in hand. Ratcheting screwdrivers give you the ability to maintain your grip and quickly tighten or loosen a screw and can provide higher end torque while lowering the chances of stripping screws.
Expect to pay $5 to $10 for one or $40 to $75 for a complete set.
Pliers are an essential tool for almost every home owner, they're one of the most versatile and handy multi use tools that you can pick up.
Their variations can serve multiple purposes, pliers can cut wires, tighten nut and bolts, be used for working on electrical, plumbing, jobs or working in tight spaces. You will not regret buying these!
Speaking of tools, did you know that the highly popular local, Pete the Plumber recommends our real estate team as we've got all the right tools to get your home sold fast!
Expect to pay $25 to $50
Unless you have the gift of knocking on a wall and knowing where a stud is, stud finders are an invaluable addition to your tool arsenal that will save your walls and avoid costly mistakes with your drill / hammer.
Investing in a higher end stud finder is a good idea, the upgraded versions can help you detect more than just studs, you'll find models that can detect AC wiring, metal, rebar in concrete and plastic plumbing as well.
Expect to pay as little as $5 or $25 for a more sturdy versatile one
These nifty little tools can help you in a variety of situations, from cutting tape to opening boxes, to stripping / cutting carpet when you're replacing and removing it, cutting open caulk / silicone / glue tubes and can even come in handy when paint has seized something like your window pane and window sill together.
Typically for this tool the upgraded features including folding utility knives that allow you to keep in on you at all times, ones that have clips for your belt are really handy, and can include room for extra blades inside your handle. You may also find multipurpose utility knives that also feature things like wire stripping options.
Hex / Allen Keys
Expect to pay $10
These handy little tools are similar to screw drivers, various different fasteners or basically anything from Ikea utilize these handy little tools for assembly and tightening.
Watch out for sets that have various sizes, from metric to SAE. 9/16 (SAE) vs 14mm (metric) are the equivalent sizes. The better quality material, the longer these will last in your tool box. Make sure they fit firmly or you'll risk stripping similar to a screwdriver head.
Expect to pay $25-$40 for a handheld level and over $100 for a laser level
From higher end and more expensive laser levels to handheld options, a level big and small can come in handy for various home projects. Whether you're installing new kitchen cabinets, tiling, building basically anything, or simply hanging a picture on the wall, a level is a must to ensure straight lines for your job.
Levels can come in various sizes and have different purposes or uses based on this, refer to your desired / needed size depending on what you're looking to accomplish. Metal levels are more durable and are less prone to damage from impact than plastic levels, you'll also find some with magnetic backs, and even features items like digital read outs
Expect to pay $20
While there are many types of wrenches, including ones meant for big plumbing tasks, we're suggesting an adjustable (width) crescent wrench. With its flexible size, it can be used to tighten or loosen nuts and bolts of any size. It comes in various lengths. The longer wrenches are for providing larger leverages and smaller ones for compact places. This is a tool you may need to accomplish various tasks from small plumbing jobs to assembling your bed furniture.
We might recommend picking up a more than one size to cover you for bigger and smaller jobs, self ratcheting wrenches are always a major plus meaning you can keep them right on your bolt to tighten it, this really comes in handy in confined spaces when you might otherwise need to constantly be adjusting the wrench in a hard to work space.
Expect to pay $25 to $50
But "I have a smart phone" is probably what you may be thinking, and while true, they're not as effective, and practical in a lot of renovation or DIY situations.
When the power goes out, or you're working in a dark situation (under a sink) not a lot of these tools are as useful as they may seem without being able to see what you're doing, the next time you find yourself in a dark corner of your home, don't rely on your cell phone, pick up a new LED flashlight that's going to last a long time, and packs a bright punch.
Aim for a flashlight that has somewhere around 500 to 1,000+ lumens (how brightness is measured), can have multiple functions (dim, bright, strobe, etc) better built flash lights will be more prone to not breaking when dropped, can be waterproof, and could have magnetic areas on them allowing you to go hands free.
Also look out for lithium ion or other rechargeable led lights will last a long time and save you money on batteries.
Click the image below for our PDF version of the top 10 tools every home owner should have!
Gathering these basic tools for your house is typically a one time investment for your household that will pay off again and again.
Pro tip - Get ready in the early spring for garage sales or visit one of the many bound to be going on across the city in the middle of summer, you'll often find a collection of great (used) tools at rock bottom prices, with a little luck and proper timing, you could pick up all the tools on this list for well under $100!
Quick Bonus tools you should really consider adding and some purposes they may serve.
Drill (Cordless) - for setting holes in your walls or in studs.
Extension Cord in case you don't have a cordless drill. :)
Ladder - For tasks like cutting hedges or putting up Christmas lights.
Tape (not the kind you use for presents) we'd recommend having a roll of plumbing tape, electrical tape, duct tape, and aluminum foil tape (for vents).