Welcome to this month's installment of Dear Urbaneer, where our readers put our real estate knowledge to task with their questions. This time around, our Buyer is on the cusp of home ownership, seeking our advice on how to properly outfit their new house. What household and garden essentials will they need, in order to be adequately prepared for home care and repair?
This query has created the opportunity to create a second installment in our 'Homeowner Essentials' series. In our first post, we helped a client with tips on how to prepare his home for protection against emergencies. At Urbaneer, we care deeply about how you experience your home life as a homeowner, which is why we provide advice on this topic, and also in our Healthy Home series, where we talk about the dangers of radon, asbestos and other household issues.
I’m beyond excited to have purchased a house after such a long search. As a prior condo owner, I realize I'm not sufficiently informed on what sort of tools and equipment I need on hand to maintain a property, and in particular my new garden. What’s your go-to list of essentials for a house and garden?
Signed, Ready to Grow and Maintain
Here's our reply:
Congratulations on your new house! Having secured your purchase, now comes the fun in planning creating your life in your new home. And kudos to you for being proactive in trying to imagine what life will be like from a pragmatic point of view. To maintain your home’s asset value, you need to be on top of maintenance in its many facets. Not only that, having your home look its best and in good repair will enhance your own enjoyment of 'Home'.
When you are stocking up on home essentials, here is our must-have list.
Setting Up Your Tool Kit
Don’t think that tools are simply the domain of the DIY-friendly. Every homeowner will be faced with a range of repair tasks over time and at the very least, you need to have some essentials on hand to attend to minor repairs.
As a word of caution, if you feel like you’ve got a problem with your home’s components, like the plumbing or the electrical, don’t delay in calling in the professionals. In many cases you need a trained eye to assess the problem at to avoid serious damage or danger. One of the best resources in Toronto is http://www.homestars.ca where, the public rank their experience for the trades they use. While the cost to hire 'the best of the best' is higher, you're assured quality.
As for your tool list, if you don’t have a toolbox yet, this is a great place to start. Make sure that your tool kit has a few different sized screwdrivers (or an interchangeable set) and a good quality hammer (preferably a claw hammer). Another useful tool is a putty knife and an easy-to-use crescent wrench. You’d be surprised at how multi-purpose a tape measure is - and not just from a home repair standpoint.
An electric drill and handsaw will also come in handy. Also make sure to have a flashlight with plenty of batteries on hand. Is there anything more useful than duct tape? Keep this in your tool kit too.
C-clamps can be invaluable in assisting you for smaller jobs, as can a pair of locking pliers. Don’t forget odds and ends like hooks, nails and screws of various sizes.
A utility knife is helpful for just about anything - from repairs to opening boxes when you are moving in.
If you are thinking of taking on more home handiwork beyond minor repair, it’s worthwhile to have a few other tools on hand, like a combination square, a plumb level, a belt sander and a handheld circular saw.
Here are quintessential handyman’s Bob Villa’s suggestions for stocking a toolbox.
Oh - and don’t forget a stylin’ toolbox to keep everything in!
Other Miscellaneous Essentials
Under the category of general home necessities, make sure that you’ve got a plunger and a plumbing snake to help deal with small plumbing blockages. Other extremely handy items include a couple of 5 gallon buckets (which can even do double duty as storage for other tools and small items), a wet dry vac, several extension cords of varying lengths, a ladder, a broom and a dustpan.
From a safety standpoint, have a fire extinguisher on every floor and be sure to check expiry dates regularly. Stock a first aid and an emergency kit too.
Here is a good list of these types of homeowner essentials.
Given you're embarking on life with a garden and lawn, you'll want to take the necessary steps to manage and maintain your own patch of nature. However, unless you pro-actively do some landscaping which can be sustainable without significant time and watering (this is what I've done with my past gardens - which I wrote about in How Green Does Your Garden Show?) there will be some effort on your part to keep it lush.
To start, you need a quality, durable pair of work gloves (or two). Make sure that you get gloves that fit. Gloves aren’t just for keeping your hands clean. They protect them from sharp items (thorns, glass, branches) and chemical hazards (fertilizers, weeding agents, pesticides) as well.
In terms of gardening tools, you’ll need a good shovel that can help you turn the dirt or dig out weeds; you need two different kinds of rakes - a bigger one to rake the leaves from the lawn in the fall and a smaller one for use in the garden. Also handy in the garden is a hand trowel that lets you tend best to your plants up close and personal.
Having a hand pruner or garden shears is also a good idea, because that’s the easiest way to trim bushes.
To water your garden, make sure that you’ve got a garden hose that is fitted with a mist attachment. Get a sprinkler that is adjustable. Both of these items help you to control the direction and flow of water, which is important because these activities can waste a lot of water if done incorrectly. They can also overwater or underwater, depending. You might even get a irrigation system on a timer for ease.
Now that your lawn is verdant and green, you’ll need to cut it. You need a lawn mower, and an edge trimmer is a good idea too to take care of the hard to reach areas or along paths. As a child who grew up in Victoria, I can tell you that an edge trimmer is a superb way to make your garden look more polished.
How To Stock Your Garage Or Shed
It's common for people to discount their garage as valuable living space, making it the household catch-all. However, there are some ways to take good advantage of that space, as well as providing easy access to things that you might need. Chances are that a number of these tools and home and garden items will be stored in the garage or in a shed.
Consider putting in a workbench in the garage, which can be a great command central for all of your home repair jobs. You can get an elaborate one, or you can even assemble one yourself fairly easily with a few planks.
Make the most of the space in the garage by using storage geared for the area. Install pegboard slats to hang things like rakes and shovels; consider a shelving unit for extra storage; make use of space overhead by putting suspended storage.
For your garden shed, the peg board works well too for storage. Put in solar lights (or store solar lights), which can be helpful. In both your shed and/or garage, make sure that you’ve got a good supply of lawn bags and plastic bags of various sizes.
Here are some handy suggestions for all of your home essentials:
Interested in learning more about how to make the most of your homeowner experience after the house hunt is over? Here are some of our posts on transitioning to a new home, and tackling the next phases of home ownership.
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~ Steven and the Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
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