New Homeowner Survival Kit

This week one of my dearest friends– a girl who has stuck by me on my crazy DIY journey since the day she helped me rip the stink-carpet out of my very first house a decade ago— became a homeowner herself, and joined the ranks of badass women who  learn to fix up their own houses.


(That’s us, not ripping carpet out.)

I am so incredibly proud of her.

I also remember what it’s like to walk into your first house, look around at all the things you want to do, and realize that you are seriously ill-equipped. She is going to learn so many things and have so many adventures in her new place, so I figured the best thing I could do for her would be this…


New Homeowner Survival Kit (aka A Lot of Shit in a Bucket)

You know, all of the stuff you collect over the first year of homeownership, during all of those emergency trips to the hardware store because, oh hell, you don’t have the thing you need to do the thing you were trying to do. Again.


Here’s what it included:

  • A five-gallon bucket- You can never have too many of them, and they get even handier with something like this.
  • Shop towels– Stronger than paper towels, still disposable.
  • Wiping cloths–  These are perfect, t-shirt material scraps to use for staining and general things that require something tougher than a disposable towel.
  • Throw-away chip brushes- I use these exclusively to test out paint swatches
  • The best edging brush ever– I used to think this was just hype, but no… really is the best edging brush ever.
  • A solid 25′ tape measure – Yeah, that cheap plastic 12′ tape in your junk drawer isn’t going to cut it anymore.
  • Putty knife and spackle– You know the first thing you’re going to want to do is paint some walls, and then you’ll start finding old nail holes in the wall and you head will explode. (It was a huge miss that I didn’t also include some sanding sponges in this survival kit.)
  • Wood glue– You never know when you’ll need it.
  • JB Weld – Ditto.
  • Drywall anchors – Sold drywall anchors for hanging anything from curtain rods, towel bars, pictures, etc.
  • Wall hangers – Same as above, these are my favorite type of picture hanger.
  • Folding utility knife – Every house, barn, and car needs at least one of these things in it. I’m tempted to keep one in every room and two in my pockets. Just because.
  • Calk and caulk gun – Every girl needs a little caulk.
  • Pry bar – Good for prying up trim, deck boards, removing nails, and generally demolishing stuff.
  • Duct tape – I mean, it’s duct tape. Enough said.

There may have been some actual squeals of delight over the contents of this bucket, and that’s a sure sign that you’ve become a full-fledged homeowner–making happy noises at duct tape.

Then, as I was telling my dear friend about why I chose each item, we had this conversation:

Me: I assumed you have a hammer and screwdrivers and things, so I went with stuff that you could need at any given time, but aren’t necessarily toolbox staples.

Her: Ummm…

Me: You don’t have a hammer and screwdrivers, do you?

Her: No.

Me: What do you have?

Her: Two rakes. (Points to vacuum cleaner) That.

Her: Oh, and this…


Then my brain short circuited.

I have one and a half rooms of my house purely dedicated to tools, plus a 20×20 workshop. She has… a tupperware. With a wrench in it.

We have so much tool-shopping to do.

23 Responses

  1. What a great idea! Everyone should have a friend like you when they get their first house. The only the thing I’d add to the bucket is a good multi-tool, a Leatherman style knife / pliers / + bunch of stuff all-in-one thing. I use mine constantly.

    What the first power tool you’ll recomend she get?

  2. I’ve had/worked more caulk than most gals I know, so I can testify on that fact. Bonus: in Texas it’s pronounced “cock” and it’s great fun to go to the hardware store and ask ’em where they keep the caulk.

  3. I just bought my house in May and my tool collection went from nothing to everything! My mom donated a butt load of tools and we’ve bought a small hardware store worth of tools! I literally went from living with mom and owning nothing to a house, tools and everything else. It’s insane! I love the feeling! I am still feeling the anxiety, happiness and freedom! There is not a day that goes by I’m not thankful for my home! I’m sure she is feeling all those feelings and congrats to her for buying a home and I’m sure she will be diy-ing herself in no time.

  4. LOL – Tupperware. Just doesn’t’ get more practical than that. At least its not one of their old Lettuce containers

  5. Great idea. The only thing I would change is the putty knife to a 14-in-1 painter’s tool, or just add the painter’s tool. I use mine constantly; I can’t believe I went so long without it.

    Also, I think need a bucket tool organizer tomorrow, because it’s much better than my current system of “thrown in a bunch of boxes.”

    1. I second the 5 in 1. Possibly more important than a hammer (if you’re a ninja it can be a hammer too). I used to always throw out my naps until I discovered the 5 in 1. Now I can clean a roller cover and a brush in about two minutes and reclaim the half gallon of paint hiding in the nap.

      The jet nozzle is $3 @ lowes.

  6. It’s a very good idea that your friend have.Yours friend’s thinking is really good.All the things which you included in the lists is really awesome. I liked it.

  7. That’s cool. One of the first things I got when we got our house was that pry bar. I call it a Wonder Bar because I think that’s the brand name. I have gotten a lot of use out of it, even though I’m much more a cabinetmaker than a carpenter.

  8. I have a medium-sized Rubbermaid container for my “tools,” which includes a couple of kitchen knives I’ve employed as screwdrivers and whatnot.

  9. I’m from the South, so I’ll go ahead and say it….. BLESS HER HEART!! She’s a lucky girl to have a friend like you. Maybe some of your instructionals can be focused on how to use some of your power tools – for her benefit and ours. 🙂

  10. Nice. My dad gave me a toolbox (full of tools) when I bought my first apartment. It was, hands down, the best house-warming gift I received.

  11. The tools are a great idea. I always give new home owner friends a plunger….you never know when you are going to need one!

  12. I too enjoyed the caulk comment and resisting the urge to expand on it, you are a great friend with a good sense for survival kits. I absolutely love chip brushes AND “shortcut” brushes though I haven’t used the Blue Hawk (often choosing them over a standard brush for any painting that requires a steady hand). That tupperware container looks zactly like the one that most of our tenants have had through all the years of having tenants. Must be standard issue. And you are just too funny, great job all around. ~jb

  13. Awesome idea!! I would loooove to get this for Christmas! I live the gift basket gift giving and this is MY kin of basket. If anyone know Santa’s number tell him I been so good this year a reatock bucket would be awesome this year!

  14. You HAVE to check out the SNL ‘caulk’ skit on YouTube. It’s an old one – you will laugh so hard you’ll cry!

  15. The only thing I’d add is a cordless drill with a few bits.

    My first home was put together, I believe, by an escaped mental patient.

    I had to remove close to one hundred screws from the walls. Plus, studs were in the wrong locations….so yea, a cordless drill was a life saver.

    Great list though…ever new home owner should read this!

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