Monday, August 17, 2015
By Jed Williams

I have been extremely lucky in life. My dad is an electrical engineer and raised me from a young age to be able to think through a problem and figure out a way to solve it myself. Not only is my dad intelligent, but he’s extremely frugal. Then I married a structural engineer. He’s the kind of guy who has a list of projects a mile long, even after moving into a brand new, never been lived in home. We watched the construction from ground breaking to stud installation to finishing tile work. And yet, every weekend we make at least two trips to Home Depot for supplies for this or that around the house.

Recently, Business Insider compiled a list of 20 handyman tricks everyone should have. I couldn’t agree more. Now, I understand if you haven’t been around engineers your entire life you may not know how to rewire a house or be able to point out the structural defects at a pre-drywall meeting, but you should know some basics. It’ll save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. This list tells you some of the most common quick fixes that any homeowner (or apartment dweller, for that matter) should know.

I’m more or less copying this list from this website, in case Business Insider ever decides to remove it.

  1. Find a stud
  2. Anchor a bookcase to a wall
  3. Spackle a hole or scuff
  4. Fix a loose tile
  5. Caulk a shower, sink or tub
  6. Fix a leaky faucet
  7. Unclog a drain
  8. Snake a drain
  9. Seal a pavement crack
  10. Change a shower head
  11. Clean the gutters
  12. Replace a toilet seat
  13. Tighten a loose door hinge
  14. Use anchor screws to hang heavy objects
  15. Change a doorknob
  16. Change a furnace filter
  17. Replace a screen window
  18. Paint like a pro
  19. Stop a toilet that runs
  20. Change a light switch

The article gives a general idea of how to do all of those things. For more in-depth knowledge, there’s always YouTube. My husband and I once tore out my aunt’s bathroom and fixed it from the studs out, including putting in new cement board behind the shower. Neither one of us had ever done a project that large on our own before, and my dad’s one caveat is that he hates plumbing, so we were on our own to figure it out. My husband jokes that he is now YouTube certified in remodeling bathrooms. You can find out how to do anything on YouTube, many times from experts, but at least from someone who has done it at least one more time than you have.

To add to this list of abilities you should have, I’m going to make a list of my own of tools that every homeowner should have. I’ll leave out the basic hammer and screwdriver from this list as those are pretty common housewarming gifts to every new homeowner.

  1. Stud finder – my husband has a pretty nifty one that includes a strong magnet that locates nails in the studs
  2. Level – these come in various sizes, and I’ve found that all are useful, but for your most common picture hanging venture, you’ll probably need one that is about 12 inches long
  3. Putty and sand paper – because when your wife changes her mind about where she wants that picture you just hung, you’ll need the putty to fill the hole and the sand paper to even it out
  4. Drywall anchors – sometimes there are studs exactly where you want to hang that heavy shelf, and sometimes there are not. Drywall anchors give added security to just a plain screw in a wall.
  5. Frog Tape – yes, this exact brand of painters’ tape. I’ve used the blue stuff, and it works ok, but to get a pristine finish, nothing compares to Frog Tape.

Our garage is filled with tools; there are circular saws, miter saws, electric sanders, cinder blocks, you name it. My parents love getting my husband tools for Christmases and birthdays because they know he’ll use them. So, this list is by no means exhaustive, but it should help to get you started.

Jed WilliamsJed Williams
Principle Broker and founder of Hagan Realty