So you made that big step from renter to home owner for the first time. You closed the deal, got your keys, and are ready to move in. Unfortunately what you did not get was a manual that details everything you need to know as a home owner. To help you out, here is a list of home owner must-have items that help you deal with most issues you will encounter as a home owner.
This seems kind of obvious, but too many people do not realize that maintaining a house costs money. A surprising amount of people think that after you move in, you just make your monthly mortgage payment and everything will be fine. A house is a wear-and-tear item, just like you car and your body. It requires regular maintenance by trained professionals and replacement of items that deteriorate over time as a result of normal usage. Every home owner should have a savings account that they put money in every month to save up for things like roof repair, water heater replacement, HVAC repair, etc. – i.e. standard home owner expenses that will come up on a regular basis.
Safety first! To protect your house and family, you should have the following:
- Fire extinguishers
- Head-mounted flashlights for all family members
- Smoke detectors in all bedrooms and hallways outside bedrooms
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Gas shut-off wrench at the gas meter
- First-aid kits
- Emergency escape ladders (for second-story bedrooms)
- Gloves (both leather and nitrile)
- Safety glasses
Most importantly, though, you need two more things:
- Escape plan to evacuate everybody in case of emergency
- Training/practice sessions with all residents on how to use the safety equipment and evacuate the house.
You should have ladders that cover various scenarios:
- A regular step ladder to retrieve items from high shelves or cabinets, hang pictures, or check smoke detectors, just to name a few examples.
- An extendable folding ladder for roof maintenance and similar tasks.
A well-stocked tool box is a home owner must-have item. Most home maintenance tasks, such as cleaning out sink drains or insulating water pipes require tools. Therefore, your tool box should contain all the staples such as:
- Pliers (different size)
- Screwdrivers (Phillips and slotted, small/medium/large)
- Cordless drill and drill bits for wood, metal, and tile
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Toilet and sink plungers for bathrooms – yes, there is a difference.
Expect your tool collection to grow over years of home ownership.
Of course you want to keep your house clean. Therefore you should have cleaning supplies such as:
- Cleaning solutions (various for glass, tile, granite, floor, toilets, etc.)
- Vacuum cleaner
- Trash bags
And then there are various other home owner must-have items such as:
- Tarps to catch debris
- Duct tape or pipe-wrap tape, depending on the task
- Lubricants (WD-40, silicone spray, lithium grease)
- Light bulbs for your various interior and exterior light fixtures
- Batteries for flash lights, smoke detectors, remotes, etc.
- Air filters
- Extension cord
List of trusted trade professionals
For the times when you don’t have the skill or time or confidence to perform maintenance yourself, you should have a list of vetted qualified trade professionals:
- Heating and cooling
Assemble this list based on recommendations and references from people you trust. However, do not solely rely on online reviews as they could be manipulated.
Location of utility shut-offs
You and all residents should know where the shut-offs are for all of the utilities (electric, water, gas). Furthermore, test them every six months to ensure they are in working order. In addition, if your house has gas, keep a proper gas wrench at the meter to allow turning off the gas in case of emergency.
Because you need to know how to operate and maintain the major appliances in your house, you should have a manual for each one, such as:
- Water heater
- Air conditioning
- Garage door opener(s)
- Garbage disposal
Since they are often not included with the house, you need to find them yourself. The easiest way is to look up the make and model of each one. Then visit the website for each manufacturer and locate the support section. Most of the time you can download the manual for free in PDF format.
Having a good relationship with your neighbors is invaluable for many different reasons. This includes home maintenance. Some jobs require two people. Your neighbor might own a tool that you need to borrow. Or your neighbor could have knowledge about something that you do not.
Whatever help you get from your neighbor, be sure to return any borrowed items promptly, show your sincere appreciation, and return the favor whenever you can.
We hope you find this list of home owner must-have items useful. Of course, this list is not meant to be complete. You probably will find additional items depending on your house and location. Let us know if you think we forgot an essential item that should be included.