Registry and Gift Forum

Suggestions for home improvement/ownership type things

FiancBFiancB member
First Anniversary First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
edited March 2014 in Registry and Gift Forum
Long story short, there is a chance we could get a house in the SF bay area for very cheap. It's in good shape, however it was built in '46 and has been standing empty since the early 90s. I saw it last summer and while AFAIK there isn't anything seriously wrong with it, it does need quite a bit of work to get it looking nice and up to date again. I am guessing that appliances and fixtures will need replaced as well.

I love the idea of doing things myself, however we are not handy at all and I have no idea what we need! What are some basic things that I would end up reaching for over and over again for a project like this? I figure a sander, a spray painter, other painting tools... and I don't really know what else. We have a very basic tool kit and drill and that's pretty much it. 

Any other things that might help us transition into running a home? Probably a basic lawn mower, sprinklers, hoses, etc. 

Re: Suggestions for home improvement/ownership type things

  • Step ladder (at least 6 ft, but more if you have higher ceilings).

    Level & Square

    Box Cutters


    Caulk & Caulk Gun

    Buckets (for both yard work and indoor projectsS)

    Shovels/Rakes for yard work

    There isn't really a good way to prepare ahead of time outside of the basics.  You will need to go to a hardware store frequenly as you do projects.  If you need to put up new drywall you will need tools that wouldn't be "basic" items that we could recommend.

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  • labrolabro member
    First Anniversary First Answer First Comment 5 Love Its

    Air tools are wonderful. So an air compresser would be an awesome (but expensive) thing to register for. A decent battery operated drill. Adremel kit because they can cover a lot of "little" projects. I know someone already mentioned shovels and rakes so to go in to more detail - plastic and metal rakes for different applications, a shop broom, a couple of different shovels. A small axe.

    A lot of the yard stuff really depends on how big of a yard this place has. If it has a large yard with lots of vegetation I'd seriously recommend registering for electric blowers, trimmers, clippers, etc. rather than manual tools just because it will cut down on labor time. If it's a small yard then the expensive isn't really worth it. I'd still get a good pair of hand shears, hand clippers, a three-pronged hand rake for digging up weeds, a tree lopper for cutting large branches. FI and I have found our folding hand saw to be incredibly useful along with your more standard saw blade. We also use our chainsaw regularly but we have an overabundance of overgrown and overcrowded trees so it's pretty necessary.

    I'd also register for a circular saw. A chop saw if you can get away with it and have room.

    There are so many things you're going to need but really you aren't going to know it until you're in the place and start making a list of projects. Get a wide variety of screwdriver types and sizes. Work gloves. A picture hanging kit. A tool bag or tool box or two. A small electrical kit. A stud finder (unreliable but still nice to have).

  • We bought a house last summer and we were at Home Depot EVERY weekend.  We bought things as we realized we needed them.  I have a feeling we'll be there alot once spring starts up!
  • You should get a home inspection. That will give you an idea of what you'll need. At a minimum, you'll need lots of cleaning supplies, the lawn mower, a rake, maybe a weed eater, brooms, hoses, a drill, a small hand saw, screw drivers, a hammer or two, a painting supplies, tool box.

    But, seriously, if the house has been empty for two decades, you'll probably need also contractor.

  • PS - I say contractor, because you'll probably need some bigger repairs.  You might need some plumbing repairs. At a minimum, you'll have to likely change the wax ring around the toilet(s). You'll probably also need to caulk windows, tubs, doors, etc. (although, you could do this with a little trial and error).  You might also need electrical work looked at/repaired (again, because it's been sitting empty).

    Also, a lot of bay area homes need foundation repairs and earthquake retrofitting.  That is a $10-15k job, easily, depending on the size of the house.  (I just had mine done, and it's a tiny house in Oakland, and it was $9k. 

    If the house hasn't been properly maintained since it's been empty, you may also need new siding or stucco, or repairs to the existing.  (I just got an estimate for siding, and it was $32k).

    I'm not trying to scare you... just make sure you know what you are getting into. Pay the $300-500 to get a home inspection, if you haven't already.


  • Thanks so much, especially @QueerFemme. I would definitely want electrical and plumbing looked at right off the bat, but it's all a lot to take in and you're right, a home inspection is a good place to start. 
  • I also like the electric tools that  are interchangeable.  We got the Ryobi set that have saw, drill/driver combo, flashlight, circular saw, etc.  with a couple batteries.  The drill/driver I use on everything it's been an awesome kit.

    Also a nice tool box.  When I bought my house I recieved alot of hand-me-down tools from Dad and Grandpa but didn't have a place to put them so they sat in a box until we got a decent tool box for them.

  • I agree. Also- don't buy a lot of tools before you need them- we bought a few things that never got used and just take up space now.

    I agree on toolboxes though I really love those things that look like tool buckets that you put around a bucket. This is where we store the tools that get used frequently- hammers, pliers, etc. Between that and a big metal set of drawers in the garage, we manage to stay pretty organized!
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  • Fire extinguisher. 
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