The term "fixer-upper" usually refers to a house in need of a little love, but this can apply to homeowners, too. With a new wave of first-time buyers on the market every year, some newly-landed property owners need a little bit of help getting started. There are thousands of tools out there to do millions of jobs, but if you stick to these toolbox essentials, you should be able fix anything up to a home inspection service's standard.

Tape Measure

This may seem basic, but the real worth of a tape measure comes when you hit the heavy-duty section. Measuring tapes around the 10-foot mark usually won't stand up on their own, which can make working alone difficult. A 25- or 30-foot measure will do the trick, and Men's Health writes that some even come with magnets on the end to help the solo craftsman that much more.


At some point, standing on your tiptoes on top of a stepstool isn't going to cut it for the larger projects. Consider an extension or folding ladder that can be set up in an A-frame position, braced against a wall or the side of your home.

Cordless drill

If you're interested in a forearm workout every time there's a screw to tighten, pass this one up, but a cordless drill will save you time and energy in the long run. Lowes recommends a 14- or 18-volt drill with a keyless chuck to speed up the process of changing bits.

Adjustable or locking wrench

When screws aren't secure enough, materials - usually metals - are fastened together with bolts, and a wrench will let you tighten or loosen those as you see fit. The adjustable variant more easily fits to different bolt sizes, while the locking wrench fits more tightly.


If you're looking into some light woodworking, don't worry about buying a table or circular saw - a handsaw will do you just fine. They're portable, easy to maneuver and more forgiving for beginners, explains.


You may not build a chair or fashion a scale replica of your home from birch, but odds are you will hang stuff on your walls. If those items are particularly heavy or expensive or both (i.e. your TV), a studfinder will locate the supports just behind the walls. This tool is a little advanced so it might even impress at your next party or home inspection.


If there's nothing more annoying to you than a wobbly chair, pick up a level from your local hardware store. While Home Depot explains that the laser-sighted versions are impressive, the old fashioned bubble types work just fine.