The complete toolbox | Essential tools for homeowners and renters

Essential Tools for Homeowners and Renters

Not sure what tools you need in your toolbox? Here’s my take on the essential tools all homeowners and renters need to accomplish basic tasks around the home.

The complete toolbox | Essential tools for homeowners and renters

Okay, I’m not going to lie – I have a ridiculous amount of tools. Some were mine, some were my fathers and some Chris and I have bought as needed for various projects over the years. But, before I started my DIY adventure I had a small selection of tools that I deemed to be essential. 

When I moved into my first apartment on my own my parents gave me a cordless electric drill, a multi-pack of drill bits and a hammer. I added them to my collection of random screwdrivers, a level, and a few box cutters and kept everything in a toolbox that had previously held my art supplies in high school.

Over the years I added a few new tools to the collection – a hand saw, some pliers and a strap wrench. Some I didn’t use very often (the saw) others I used more frequently (like the wrench). Yup, it took me dropping my rings down the sink three times before I learned to put them somewhere else while having a shower.

The funny thing is if I need to quickly fix something around the house I reach for the same tools over and over again.

So, what are the essential tools I should I have in my toolbox?

Here’s my take on the tools everyone should have:

Cordless drill, drill & drive bits and a ratcheting screwdriver | Essential tools for homeowners and renters

Cordless Drill

If you want to mount anything on the wall you will need a cordless drill. And, if you want to assemble (or disassemble) any furniture with ease, a cordless drill can definitely make it easier. It doesn’t have to be fancy, pick something compact and lightweight. If you’re going to be doing a lot of DIY you might want to invest in an extra battery so you can always have one charging and one on the go. 

Mine: Ridgid Lithium Ion Cordless Drill

Drill & Screwdriver Bit Set(s)

While we have a collection of various drill bits and screwdriver heads all sorted by size and type into bins, a basic set of both will be more than enough for basic tasks around the house. I prefer to use the shorter screwdriver heads with an adapter because they will also work in my ratcheting screwdriver (the next item on the list).

Mine: Ryobi 117 Piece Drill and Drive Bit Set

Safety Glasses

Any time you’re doing any sort of home repair, you should be wearing safety glasses. Chris always buys them in bulk, but my favourite pair were in the Haven Conference Swag Bag last year from 3M.

Mine: 3M Anti-Fog Safety Glasses

Ratcheting Screwdriver

Why have a drawer full of screwdrivers when you can have one ratcheting screwdriver and use the same bits you use in your drill? The ratcheting mechanism + an allen head bit have completely changed how I assemble IKEA furniture.

Similar to Mine: Ratcheting Screwdriver

Strap wrench, pliers and box cutter | Essential tools for homeowners and renters

Large and Small Pliers

Here’s a confession: I hate wrenches. I know I really should use them when they’re the “right” tool, but honestly, 9 times out of 10 I reach for one of my two favourite pliers and the job still gets done.

Similar to Mine: Locking Grip Plier Set 

Strap Wrench

My strap wrench is the only exception to my last statement. I love my strap wrench. When I was in university I kept dropping my rings down the sink and had to learn very quickly how to retrieve them. Strap wrench to the rescue! 

Mine: Universal Strap Wrench 

Box Cutters/Utility Knives

Sure,  you could just hold a pair of scissors wide open to cut through the tape on that box, but a box cutter will do it better. The small snap-off blades are thin and sharp and cut through a variety of materials, like caulking (if you’re into that sort of thing). We have a ton, but my favourite has a dial that locks the blade in place (I’ve lost it though so it’s not the one in my photo).

Mine: Olfa Ratchet Lock Utility Knife

Hand saw, level, hammer and measuring tape | Essential tools for homeowners and renters


Hanging photos? Need to nail the back onto a bookcase? Little shelf peg won’t go in the hole? Use a hammer. Not a book, not a shoe, a hammer. 

Mine: 10 oz. Ash Handle Hammer

Hand Saw

Okay, maybe the hand saw is not an ESSENTIAL tool for everyone, but you never know when you’ll need to cut something too thick for a box cutter. I bought my first saw in my second year of university at the dollar store. It was awful. Don’t be like me, go to the hardware store and get a proper hand saw. 

Mine: Stanley 15″ Hand Saw 

Small Level

You want things to hang straight right? Not just kinda straight, but actually straight. You need a level. 

Similar to Mine: Basic 9″ Level

Measuring Tape

You know what I always need but can never seem to find? A measuring tape. And we literally have more than 20. You probably only need one.

Mine: Dewalt 25′ Measuring Tape

Duct tape, painters tape, water sealant tape and strong glue | Essential tools for homeowners and renters

Glue & Tape

For any sort of small jobs and repairs, you will likely need some glue or tape. While you could just stick duct tape on everything, it’s much better if you use the right one for the job

  • Painters Tape creates sharp lines while painting and peels off without causing damage
  • Water Sealant Tape is a must for any plumbing project like replacing a showerhead or faucet
  • Strong Glue helps with a lot of small repairs – Gorilla Glue is my favourite
  • Duct Tape will work for pretty much for everything else (i’ve even used it to prevent blisters in an emergency)

With this toolbox loaded with essential tools, you’ll be able to assemble flat-packed furniture, hang pictures, install a light fixture, accomplish small plumbing tasks (like retrieving a ring from a down the drain or installing a shower head) and much more.

Essential Tools for Homeowners and Renters | House by the Bay Design

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