Shopping list for a new house
April 28, 2013 9:10 AM   Subscribe

We get the keys to our new house on Wednesday. Hooray! We're trying to come up with a list of things that we, as long-time renters, might need to get for the house. I'm not talking about furniture or anything like that, but rather stuff like a lawn mower, a ladder--that kind of thing. Some of the stuff will become obvious when we need it, of course, but is there a list of things that no homeowner should be without?
posted by synecdoche to Home & Garden (39 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
Get a tool kit--there are ones available for not too much money--look on line at Lowe's.

Certainly--screwdrivers, hammer, philips head screwdrivers, pliers, tweezer pliers. Get a kit that has an assortment of nails and hangers. There's a round tool that has about a dozen different heads to it. An awl is handy for poking holes.

posted by AuntieRuth at 9:14 AM on April 28, 2013

The very first things to buy should be fire extinguishers.
posted by vers at 9:16 AM on April 28, 2013 [16 favorites]

Start with a basic toolbox, which, if you have any sense, you've already got! (I wouldn't buy one of the pre-assembled toolkits: the quality usually isn't as good.), add the lawn care items (lawnmower plus a weedwacker/edge trimmer, maybe hand trimmers.)

I'd wait on things like a ladder, unless you mean a 6-foot indoor stepladder, which'll be handy for reaching high lightbulbs or hanging curtains.
posted by easily confused at 9:16 AM on April 28, 2013

These are the things I've bought in the last four years that I use all the time:
  • tape measure
  • drill with rechargeable battery and spare, a box of bits and drivers
  • small hammer
  • 7' ladder
... and an Evernote account. Whenever I take a set of measurements (room sizes, window sizes, etc.), I jot them down and save them to Evernote in a "House" folder, then I star the note (so it's permanently cached on my phone and I can get at it without needing to get signal in the middle of Ikea, which eats cell signal).
posted by mph at 9:17 AM on April 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

I highly, highly recommend the New Fix-It Manual: How to Repair, Clean, and Maintain Anything and Everything Around Your Home. Not sure if they have Home Depots where you are, but they sell this book there. Otherwise, the local bookstore or Amazon.
posted by Houstonian at 9:17 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Go to home depot and buy yourself a nice 2- step step ladder. You will thank me later. And congrats! :)
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Previously, related: The things you don't need until you suddenly do

A plunger. A drill, and assorted bits.

posted by MonkeyToes at 9:18 AM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

A three ring binder with clear plastic document-holder pages, which will become the default place for all the manuals ,warranty registrations, name/brand of the paints I chose, handyman phone numbers etc etc.... I keep mine someplace handy so if a house-sitter runs into a problem w the dishwasher etc, its easy to find.
posted by iiniisfree at 9:27 AM on April 28, 2013 [7 favorites]

Congratulations! I believe you should really only buy tools if and when you need them. If you buy something because you think you might need it someday, that someday may not ever come. However, it's generally a good idea to have:
- broom, dustpan, dust brush, mop, bucket, vacuum cleaner
- dish cloths, dish towels, scrubby sponges, dish detergent
- claw hammer, basic screwdrivers, pliers, Channel lock pliers, and a decent tool box to keep them organised.
- garbage cans and recycle bins
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:29 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Smoke alarm and fire extinguisher from the outset. Circuit tester. Plunger. Bins.

Light bulbs: if there are any in hard-to-reach places, now's the time to install LEDs from the outset (if you can) so that you shouldn't need to worry about them in the future.

This counts more as information, but if you're looking to keep any paintwork the same colour, you'll want to know the original for touchups, so check to see if there's any old pots left behind, and if not, see if you can get that from the previous owner.
posted by holgate at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2013

Yay new house!
Fire extinguishers, yes! Also smoke detectors. (If there are smoke detectors in the house already, check and see how old they are - if they're more than 10 years old you might want to replace them. If not, make sure to replace the batteries.) CO detectors might be required in your jurisdiction; if not, they are still a good idea. In addition to a plunger, and arguably better for bad clogs, a toilet auger (aka "closet snake"). An electric outlet tester. If there's a basement and it looks like it might be prone to leaks, a water-detecting alarm like a leak frog.

I don't know if winter-related stuff is still available in your part of the great white north this late in the season, but if so, get a container of ice-melt so you have it on hand *before* winter comes. (Often it'll sell out if the retailers don't have a big supply laid in if storms come early.) Snow shovel, too.

Ladder - a 4' ladder is usually sufficient. If one or both of you are short or the house has high ceilings, you might want a 6' ladder instead or in addition to it. (Er, or the metric equivalent if they're sold like that in Canada. I don't think I've ever been in a Canadian hardware store.) Get a sturdy ladder, not a flimsy cheap thing.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:31 AM on April 28, 2013

Congrats! At garage sales, always ask about old tools. Most of the hand tools in the big box stores are crappy knock-off junk. One exception would be a hand saw. Get a cheap Stanley crosscut saw (with the impulse hardened teeth). Avoid anything with "Irwin" on it.

It's great to have a small collection of tools for odd-jobs down the road. Stuff like keyhole saws, utility knives, hand planes, a sharpening stone, different sized pliers, coping saw, etc.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:32 AM on April 28, 2013

This book is pretty good for basic home repairs: Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual: Completely Revised and Updated
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:33 AM on April 28, 2013

If you have a gas line, find out what kind of wrench you need to turn it off in case of emergency.
posted by corey flood at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2013

Oh! And get a copy of Cheryl Mendelson's oft-recommended "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House." It's a good reference to have on hand for those times when you need to know how to do something, and how to do it right.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:37 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Things I have used just these past two weeks:

A toilet snake/auger. I think we've only used ours four times in twelve years - but I am grateful we had it for those times.

A lockbox and spare key hidden somewhere outside.
And a spare key or two to leave at your neighbour's house, if you're going to be friendly (Because there's nothing like being able to call your retired neighbours to ask them to check if you left the oven on instead of having to travel back home.)

A Welcome mat. Or, if you're like us, a Go Away mat.

Window cleaning supplies: An extension pole, with sponges and squeegees and scrubbers and a bucket.

Window screen patches

posted by peagood at 9:39 AM on April 28, 2013

Don't make this list, it's a recipe for buying a bunch of stuff it turns out you don't need, or stuff that doesn't quite fit your needs. If you just go out and pre-emptively buy a ladder, you're likely to buy a standard six foot ladder. Then you have a lightbulb burn out up high by your vaulted ceilings and you realize you should have gotten a taller ladder (or whatever). You'll find yourself doing this frequently if you're trying to solve problems you don't actually have. Just wait until you need something to buy it, because then you'll actually have a realistic idea of what you need it *for* and you'll save a bunch of time and storage space by not getting unnessecary/poorly suited things.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:45 AM on April 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

A good quality garden hose.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:50 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

tyler makes a good point, but when the time comes that you need, like NEED RIGHT NOW a plunger, flashlight or fire extinguisher, you won't have any regret. Some purchases for a new home are also essentials in any living situation.
posted by vers at 9:54 AM on April 28, 2013

Shower curtain rod(s).

Make sure you know where the main water shutoff valve is now, so you're not scrambling to find it when you need it. Ugh.
posted by ellenaim at 9:56 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

You live in Ontario. You need a snow shovel.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:57 AM on April 28, 2013

A hose + sprinkler.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:58 AM on April 28, 2013

Also, a number of shower curtains and assorted bathroom equipment (toilet brushes, soap dispensers,bathmats, linens etc.) that equals the number of showers/bathrooms if you are moving from a smaller place to one with more than one bathroom.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:01 AM on April 28, 2013

On a similar vein as corey flood, do also know where/how to shut off your water to the house. If a pipe ever breaks, you'll want to know how to stop that asap!
posted by hydra77 at 10:11 AM on April 28, 2013

More specifically, if there's anything on the walkthrough where you're sure you want to make changes, and they're ones you can handle by yourself, then get the tools and kit to do them early, or they'll nag at you.

Oh, curtain rails and curtains (or blinds, if that's your preference) if the house won't be furnished with them. You can make do with a sheet taped over the window in a pinch, but you probably don't want to spend your first night at your new home feeling watched through bare windows.
posted by holgate at 10:25 AM on April 28, 2013

Don't throw out old linens to not have to move them; a "Oh #@$*!! I need a bunch of towels, NOW" shelf in a linen closet is a good thing to have. Old sheets for drop cloths, ratty towels for plumbing/wet pet/I didn't know that had snow in it when I brought it in mishaps, cleaning rags...

A Costco membership is a nice thing to have for a move; their store-brand garbage bags alone make it worth it for stocking a house.
posted by kmennie at 10:33 AM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

garden hose.

If you have carpet, then a small stain remover machine (the kind that takes hot water) will be very nice to have.
posted by amtho at 10:46 AM on April 28, 2013

Shaker torch for when the power goes out in the middle of the night; a torch you've not used for two years will be of no use if it's been sitting in your kitchen drawer digesting its own innards with battery juices.
posted by flabdablet at 10:57 AM on April 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

the $4 paper "redi shades" are surprisingly awesome looking and quick to put up. just cut to the right width, peel and stick. they've allowed us our privacy while we get around to installing proper shades room by room.
posted by noloveforned at 11:08 AM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

drawer organizers, a full tool box, if you have a disposal, a disposal key if it gets clogged, the number for a good housecleaning service because if you are going from apartment to house, give yourself a rest in a couple of months and have the house professionally cleaned.
posted by Jewel98 at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2013

Several other people have suggested a plunger, but I would like to suggest one plunger per bathroom. I have never regretted having one right there. (I would also suggest one toilet brush per bathroom as well, but that's probably less critical to have from the get-go.)
posted by Etrigan at 2:19 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Extension cord. You'll always need it when the outlet is far from the thing that needs an electrical tool to fix it.
posted by lasamana at 4:17 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nobody mentioned a level?! Get a level, otherwise your shelves, toilet paper holders, curtain rods, towel rods, and pictures will be annoyingly crooked forevermore.
posted by scratch at 4:51 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Get your new house rekeyed right away. It's easy enough if you leave one party at home, and the other party takes the locks to a locksmith and re-keys the cores.

Get your fire extinguishers in place.

Other than that, play ball.
posted by msamye at 8:32 PM on April 28, 2013

If you live in an area prone to any sort of natural disaster, buy now anything you'd need when a warning of impending natural disaster is issued. The stores will be out of everything.
posted by yohko at 12:27 AM on April 29, 2013

I have some wall-mounted brackets holding a flashlight on the stairway down to the basement in my house. Next to that, I have a package of spare batteries for said flashlight. I figure the time I'll need the spare batteries for that particular flashlight is the time I will want them Right Now.

If your house has a sump pump, consider laying in a spare - if it burns out, chances are the weather is such that everyone else's has as well and they'll all get to the store before you do and buy them all. Or maybe that's juts me.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:51 AM on April 29, 2013

Plunger and zip-it drain cleaner. Check smoke and carbon monoxide monitors, and put in all new batteries, usually 9 volt. I have a chargeable flashlight that stays plugged in so it's always ready. Toolbox with tape measure, drill/bits, hammer, a package of assorted nails, a package of assorted picture hangers, duct tape, screwdrivers, scissors. Get spare keys made, and store 1 with a friend or in a reliable spot outdoors. 2 Step Folding Step Stool. You'll probably want to have a few CFL or LED lightbulbs handy.

See if the previous owner will do a walk-through with you and point out the water (and gas) shutoffs, location of electric panel(s), and tell you about anything like what type of weird bulbs light fixtures take, where the filter is on furnace, fridge water feed (if it has icemaker), air conditioner, etc., where the hatch is on the septic tank if you have one, where the fill pipe is for heating oil. Bring a notebook and take notes. If there's a lot of landscaping, it's nice to know what's planted, so you don't accidentally dig up the peonies or whatever. See if they have the names of plumber, electrician, furnace maintenance person, builder, etc. and also see if there are warrantees on the furnace, a/c, etc. Ask about maintenance, like gutter cleaning. If there's a fireplace or woodstove, ask about chimney cleaning. Once you know where the shutoffs are, tag them; if there's ever a crisis, finding them fast makes a big difference. Congratulations on the new house.
posted by theora55 at 7:37 AM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

one of the great moments in moving into your own house, and i read this elsewhere here originally, is the joy in grabbing a giant nail and whacking it into any wall you like without having to consult your landlord.

Before you do so however, consider buying a stud finder, so you can screw and drill with reckless abandon, without any fear of electrocuting or flooding your house.
posted by kev23f at 8:14 AM on April 29, 2013

Door jams, especially if you have any doors that close on their own, or are prone to close in winds.

As for carbon monoxide detectors, I was told that CO is heavier than air, but that is not the case, so smoke alarm/CO detector combinations aren't a terrible thing.

Regarding levels - make sure you get a sturdy one. I had a freebie, and it seems the casing was poorly made, because it didn't really tell you when things were level.

A three ring binder with clear plastic document-holder pages, which will become the default place for ... name/brand of the paints I chose

You may want to add a spot of paint next to each name and brand of the paints used in your house. That way, you can have them handy for future paint color matching efforts (though you should test a newly made mix somewhere inconspicuous, as paint does fade over time, so a well-stored sample might not be a perfect match for what is on older walls).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:58 AM on April 29, 2013

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