What new homeowners must have as they launch a fresh life

August 19 |
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House PWNED
YEAH IT IS! Photo by CJ Sorg. Used under Creative Commons license.

Betsy needs help!

The situation: My man and I just purchased our first home: an adorable 1928 brick midwestern dream that needs a little TLC. This is our first home, and the first place we've lived since selling all of the stuff we owned that wouldn't fit into a 1998 Plymouth Breeze with us and our dog, Frank. Which means we need A LOT OF STUFF! We're getting married in a few months, which presents the perfect opportunity for people to buy us this stuff.

We've never lived in a non-apartment setting before, so we don't have any "home-ownery" stuff like hoses and ladders, nor do we have an "fixy" stuff like tools. We have small stuff like kitchen appliances and utensils because they could fit in the Breeze, and close contact with dog hair for 18 hours wouldn't ruin them.

The question: What would you suggest we register for? Knowing our guests, we're looking for things in the $25-$150 range.

I can help! Mah man and I moved into our house almost a year ago. Before that, we'd ditched a lot of our stuff so we could squeeze into a studio apartment, so we've gone through the holy-crap-we-need-to-buy-all-the-things period.

This was helpful in our new home ownership:

  1. We waited to buy the goods until we were in. This gave us a chance to see what we really needed, what we could do without, and most importantly: what we could get from friends or family who were upgrading or had extras.
  2. We were used to moving to new apartments every couple of years, and being poor. So we had bought crappy, low-quality junk, mostly. When we bought a house we realized it was time to start buying quality stuff: metal, well-made, more expensive in the short-term but much less expensive than buying over and over again.

I've made a list of goodies we needed, and linked to some that we've liked or coveted at Rockethaus. I'd also recommend you find a good local hardware store (Ace and TrueValue count!) and get familiar with their inventory. Print out this list and take it along!

In the meantime, Amazon will help you be sure of what you're looking for.

Tools

Outdoors

Housekeeping

Some odder stuff:

  • A fire safe, and/or a safety deposit box for your deed! (!!!)
  • If your house came with filters — a reverse osmosis built-in, or one in a fridge — you can look for replacement filters and ask for those!
  • Curtains!
  • House numbers
  • Welcome mats!

Okay, so that wasn't a brief list — print it from here if you need to take it with.

And Homies, what else does a new homeowner need?

  1. We just moved into our first house 3 months ago, and here are a couple things we needed:
    1. Soaker hoses for summer to water the foundation- it feels like a waste of water, and it does spike your water bill, but it's much cheaper than fixing foundation cracks and damage!
    2. Caulk- get some caulk to seal up any outside cracks around windows, doors or vents.
    3. (if you're planning on doing your own yard-work)Gloves, safety glasses, and some crappy shoes(or demote some old athletic shoes)
    4. Wood putty, mud, and paint to patch small holes in the walls.
    5. Spare light bulbs.

    These are the things I can remember right now. Remember all those things you'd just call a landlord for? Now you're relying on yourself and any resourceful friends or family to help when a problem arises. Get to know how handy the people in your circle are and offer to pay them in pizza for fixing the toilet (for example :)) Good luck! This is an exciting time!

    1 agrees
    • I don't know if anyone has said this yet:
      1)DUCT TAPE! Lots of it! It comes in all styles and sizes now, stock up…..
      2) WD40— this comes in so handy
      -You can accomplish a ton of household, "fixits," with these two items! Lastly, there are these places called ReStores all over the states that are run by Habitat for Humanity! They're so lovely! We have found so many great buys in there from baskets to cabinets and tiles to towels! Check them out! I don't know if you can register with them, but the money you'll save on necessities is pretty great! Also, you're helping fund a great cause with every purchase!

      1 agrees
  2. My biggest recommendation is two power drills. 1 small one thats light and easy to stick in tight places and works well, maybe with different bits. My parents got me one at Costcos and it has an awesome holster.
    2 big heavy duty power drill for the BIG STUFF. You'll use the little one alot but sometimes the big one is neccisary.

    Good Luck!

    2 agree
    • Regarding drills: spend a bit extra and get one that has magnetized drill bits. It's soooo much easier to get the screw into its spot when it doesn't keep falling off the wall/drill bit!

      3 agree
      • You can actually buy these separately. You don't need to spend extra on the drill to get them.

        2 agree
  3. Great list! You might also want fire extinguishers and a dehumidifier if you have a basement. In tools, after you've got the basics, add a level.

    2 agree
    • Yes! I commented below, then refreshed my page and saw this new comment – someone else saying fire extinguisher, too. Definitely get one! They're cheap, and if you need it you'll be glad to have it.

      If you're not sure how to use one, remember P.A.S.S.: Pull the pin, Aim, Squeeze the trigger, and Spray back and forth at the base of the fire.

      1 agrees
    • I WISH we had registered for a dehumidifier. Those things are expensive – but so is the battle against mold and moisture damage in our basement.

  4. One thing I would really, really recommend having is an easily accessible on-going list in a specific place to write down the things you don't realize you need until you need them.

    Like, hang up a white board in your kitchen so when you realize that you can't actually reach that shelf without climbing on the counter, you can go over and write "stepladder" on the board. This will save you brain cells, I promise.

    Also, buy a drain snake. This will also save you brain cells.

    3 agree
    • And to continue this thought, put a tick mark beside the items each time you need them.
      See a lot of checks beside one item? You might not enjoy living without it until you're married. If you see it hasn't been marked bought on your registry, you can afford it, and you can return it if you accidentally get two–go ahead and get it for yourself.

      3 agree
    • I second the dry erase board! I got a cute pink one from Walmart that measures about 1 foot by 1 foot, and it had stickies on the back of it so I mounted it to the front of my fridge. Now, everytime me or the fiance notices we need something (batteries, bread, toilet paper) we write it on the board! Once we buy it, we erase it! It beats the hell out of having 50 tiny pieces of paper scattered about to "remind" us to buy something.

      Also, a drain snake saves me from showering in backed up nasty water at least once every two months. Old house = old plumbing. It comes in super handy!

      1 agrees
  5. i wonder if you can register for *specific colors* of paint? that would be awesome.

    as for fixey stuff:
    at a minimum, you ought to have a basic hammer/tape measure/screwdriver type tool set, and a drill (cordless is awesome for light-duty around-the-house stuff).
    after that, if you're likely to use it, i'd opt for a circular saw. unless you are a buildy person, you probably will be perfectly happy and well-served to stop there. if you are a buildy person,well, you probably already have a wishlist as long as my leg.
    oh, and a ladder. that reaches your roof. i wish i had one. on the other hand, if you have an awesome neighbor with a ladder collection, don't bother. hi, awesome neighbor!

    as for house stuff, i would suggest picking one room that you want finished, and trying to get the furniture/decor/etc you need to pull it together. when the rest of your place is in some form of move-in hell (ours was "too much crap!", yours might be "there's nowhere to sit down!"), it is awesome to have one place to go chill and think "ahh, our new home, it is so awesome here and it looks like a house."

    good luck!

    2 agree
    • Getting one room totally in order is a great great great idea. We didn't do that, and the first week of living in our house was HELL. I wanted to sit and relax and enjoy, but there was no place to sit! So I ended up dragging ass around the house trying to unpack and put things away until I would collapse exhausted into bed. Then the next day I'd realize that in my stupor I'd basically just moved clutter from one spot to another.

  6. This obviously isn't something you'd register for, but I think it's worth mentioning because everyone should have one in any living space (and it's an easy thing to overlook in the craziness of moving to a new home): an emergency/disaster kit! Flashlight, batteries, weather radio, canned goods, extra clothes/shoes, etc. Especially if you live in an area prone to natural hazards like tornadoes or earthquakes.

    1 agrees
    • And a few jugs of water! I've lived in earthquake/wildfire territory for my entire life and always have at least 10 gallons on hand.

      1 agrees
  7. Thanks for the post! My future hubby & I are looking to buy our first non-apartment place soon too. =)

  8. I just wanted to comment on the tarp for the air conditioner over the winter. I had a guy come check out our air conditioner, simply because we've had our house for 5 years and never had it looked at. I asked him about a tarp for winter (we've never done it but our neighbors do), he said not to as mice will think it is a lovey little hidey hole for them and then chew through the wires which are uber expensive to replace. Paraphrasing of course.
    I would also recommend duct tape and black electrical tape, also multi-colored sharpies. I fix many things with black electrical tape and colored sharpies.

    1 agrees
  9. This is less "stuff to buy" advice and more "stuff to do" advice but you're going to want to, before winter hits, get on a ladder and get a good look at your roof and get well aquainted with your basement/crawlspace. That way when something happens (giant ice dams, hail storm, realizing there is a small lake in your basement) you will know how it "should" look.

    3 agree
  10. Not all of these are things I would consider for a registry, but they are things of high need and high use in our home so far:

    1. Drain enzymes: you put these in your clothes washer drain and sink drains to keep gunk clear and lessen the chances you'll need a plumber.
    2. Face masks for dust from renovating or cleaning long-abandoned areas.
    3. Stud finder
    4. Hell yes on Cat's suggestion for window treatments. Can't tell you how many times we started putting our beds up in a new place and realized we would have no privacy unless we bought emergency window coverings.
    5. Like 5 measuring tapes. Where the hell do those things go?
    6. The floor cleaning machine of your dreams. Really, get a good one or you'll regret it.
    7. A large fan for drying up leaks, airing out the house, etc.

    2 agree
  11. Great advice. Also make sure you have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and that they work and have fresh batteries. Check to see where in the house your city/state requires them.

    • Batteries. Batteries of every single size. Light bulbs. A variety of tape (scotch, masking, duct, electrical). WD-40. Scissors.

  12. We've been in our new house for about a month (LOVE IT). We got married two months ago. We registered for lots of kitchen things like dishes and small appliances to upgrade from the hand me downs and dollar store crapola that we used when we were apartment dwellers.

    The first weekend we spent as homeowners, we bought:
    – A metric crap ton of paint (but I don't think you can register for it, since they usually custom-tint it in the store, and it's non-returnable).
    – Painting supplies like rollers, brushes, paint pan liners, drop clothes (which you CAN register for)
    – A 6' ladder (seriously thing comes in SOOO much handy for everything!)
    – A lawn mower (coincidentally, the same Fiskars reel mower that Cat has and to which she composed an Ode a while ago – she's right, it rocks, and I'm totally with her in my adoration of Fiskars products)
    – Laundry detergent
    – Lamps
    – A vacuum
    – Shelf paper
    – An amazing couch with a queen size sleeper

    Mostly though we've been eyeballing our list of things we want (grill, new TV) and plotting when to buy (Labor day sales!!). I suggest sitting down with your honey, each making a list of things you want in priority order, then comparing lists and seeing where you match up to create a master list. This list-building also works great for creating a list of home-improvement or DIY projects, of which there will be many. Welcome to homeownership, and congratulations!

    • You may not be able to register for paint, but you could definitely ask for gift cards to The Home Depot/Lowes/etc. and buy the paint with the cards!

      1 agrees
  13. Don't forget to think about any extra bathrooms you may be acquiring. Our rental only had 1 bathroom, but when we bought our house we had to have 2 sets of bathmats, etc. Also don't forget to keep a plunger and a toilet brush in any guest bathrooms – it's really annoying/embarrassing to have to ask someone for a plunger if you clog their toilet when you're at their house. You may also need extra hand towels for those bathrooms as well.

  14. A SHOVEL! If you live somewhere where you get snowfall, you'll definitely need one of those.

    Also, I can't stress enough about the lightbulbs. Make sure you check what parts of the house need what kind of light bulbs. (we have a mix of halogens and 100W) Honestly, my husband and I didn't even think about lightbulbs until about half of them blew.

    • Not just snow fall. Due to rain, we get erosion and a shovel would have been super useful on many occasions for clearing areas that got filled with dirt runoff.

  15. There are some awesomely fun things out there, like hot pink patterned and leopard print brooms. I know for a fact I've seen them at Pier1, but I'm sure other places sell them. They make AWESOME housewarming gifts.
    My favorite: http://www.pier1.com/Catalog/Dining/tabid/977/CategoryId/111/ProductId/31615/ProductName/Floral-Upright-Broom-Set/Default.aspx

    Also I recommend if you are going to buy a ladder, dependent on cost, to consider a longer convertible ladder as a homeowner. We got ours on sale for 60 dollars and there's a million things my 6' ladder doesn't help with that I can do with the convertible that leans against the house, outside. If you always plan on hiring someone to trim trees or clean gutters, then you don't really need one. But mine stretches to a leaning 14' and it's been indispensable. We have a 6' one and a step-stool for inside/two person projects as well. Just my two cents though, and I am pretty short :D.

    I am so in love with those doormats!

    Oh and one last thing- amazing for clearing drains, is this little $2.50 item that pulls hair clogs out of drains. I have long hair, so this helps but it has also helped get the previous residents hair out…kind of nasty, but I have told my family all about them and they are a lifesaver, and so much more ecological than drano. 5 stars reviews so I guess I'm not the only one raving about it :)
    Zip-it: http://www.homedepot.com/Plumbing-Drain-Openers/h_d1/N-5yc1vZbqnc/R-100665735/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053

    1 agrees
  16. I'd also suggest a Felco folding saw. You can get through pretty hefty tree branches with it and it's a lot easier to store than most loppers or hedgeshears.
    You can register for a lot of home stuff at Sears. Some of my friends did that a few years ago and got so many useful things.

  17. Hell ya on that tape measure thing! I think they all disappear with the rouge socks and the Barbie shoes!!!

    Another thing that is more advice then anything but when I bought my older home, I had a plumbing problem shortly after moving in. I wish that I asked friends and did more research before I needed a plumber for an emergency problem. After that, I made a list of people that should be called for household emergencies. That list was compiled from online research and local advice. (I'm a total nerd and I also have a list of backups!)

    1 agrees
  18. A wheelbarrow is really handy and hard to find second hand for some reason. We don't have ingrained sprinklers, so timers have been great. If you are going to paint frog tape is worth the extra money. Also a weed eater is really nice to have. Extension cords too.

  19. FYI: setting up housekeeping can be costly. You can save some money (and shelf space) by renting or borrowing tools if you aren't sure you're going to need them very often. On the RARE occasion that I need a drill, caulking gun, etc., I borrow one. This doesn't work for everyone, but it always has for me.

    Big tip: if you have any big sliding glass doors that let in too much heat in the summer, they can be effectively and inexpensively blocked with a large patio umbrella. I wouldn't have survived in my oven of a townhouse without one.

  20. As far as people with old, drafty houses, you can buy a special plastic sheeting to put over windows (and seldom used doors) during the winter. It sticks to the window frame, and you attach it with heat (I usually use a hair dryer). They peel off when you're ready to be done with them. They make a huge difference in the winter!

  21. Houses do seem to need a lot of things. We were in a similar situation as far as buying a house, moving in, and getting married shortly after. Depending on your friends and family, it might be possible to make a list of things you need and put it out there that you'd be into getting second hand things. It might put some larger items into your guest's price range. My mom took care of the list and sort of gave anyone who asked one particular gift in their price range so we didn't get multiples. It worked for us because we didn't find anywhere we liked to register.

  22. We just moved from a room each in a rented house to our own special unfurnished flat, all for us. The sheer, insane quantity of crap we suddenly needed was quite overwhelming.

    About a week after we moved, I got an email telling me that there was a sale on at Ikea soon – so we bought all the stuff we would've bought anyway but which were on sale THEN. It meant we bought some things LONG before they became urgent, (and very nearly bankrupted us) but it was so much cheaper than waiting 'til we had somewhere to put things and paying full price. It helped that I already had an Ikea shopping list made up – so I could simply say "that's on sale, get it now; that's not and we can't afford everything in one go, so we'll leave it".

    For me, whenever we've moved I find it really important to make a really specific list of what each room needs – new curtains, a shelf for my books, a pen pot. If your list is specific enough, then you're in no danger of seeing something pretty and being like "oooh, this thing is required for the living room" and then getting home and finding you've spent money on something you've already got three of.

  23. I think you could try and separate your need list from your would-be-great on a registry list, or think of ways to make your need list more "heirloomy" – ie. the sort of things people will want to buy you for your wedding.

    Ie. not just any old tools but this sort of tool: http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/tools-electrical-helpers/heirloomquality-screwdriver-sets-from-elementary-design-139150

    Dreamy matching towel sets. My mum says this is her main regret from not getting married to my dad, they never had a nice set of matching towels (when she says this I think she's joking, but I do think weddings are this one opportunity to get the sort of stuff you'd never buy yourself but people want to give you fancy things – depending on your fam and friends, obviously).

    Upgrade your sheets!

    That type of thing. The stuff you just plain "need" will become apparent, the idea someone had for a whiteboard to note down those things is a good idea.

  24. Forget "a set" of screwdrivers, unless you plan to open paint cans with them or otherwise abuse them (I keep an extra super cheapo flat head for these purposes). Instead get one screwdriver that contains all the different bits in a screw on compartment in the back. These often have a ratcheting mechanism that makes it easier to deal with projects in tight quarters one handed and magnetized bits to keep screws straight.

    2 agree
    • Also, I adore the magnetized metal bowls for holding screws and nails and such during a project. Especially if you have a baby or pets, avoiding spilling a million little metal pieces everywhere can save your sanity.

  25. Personally–don't buy it from Amazon if you can get it cheaper locally. Buy the midprice screwdrivers and hammers, and other small handtools. You will lose or mislay them and several extras are nice, I sometimes have a small set in each room rather than having to find them in another room if we are in fixit chaos! See if there is a branch of Habitat for Humanity's building recycle store. Their stuff is good and dirt cheap. If there is a discount tool warehouse that is another good place to go. Get a shovel, rake, and hose. Having to run and get something when you have to dig up a sewer line is not fun! And make sure you know where your electrical panel and water or gas cutoffs are located, and they ae free of obstacles.

  26. In my opinion, when you do buy a garden hose, go ahead and get a better quality one. The first one we bought was one of the cheapest and plastic-y. After using it a couple times, it permanently kinked in a million places. It turned into a huge, awkward eyesore. After a season watering the garden with it, we couldn't take it any more, and bought the more expensive woven one. Worth every penny!

    Gift cards are definitely a good way to go, if your friends and family don't think they are too impersonal. We used some of ours to rekey our house (we had three different door keys >.< ), which is a lot more expensive than you would think!

    1 agrees
  27. Along with the lawnmower I would say also a weed whacker/trimmer/ whatever your local dialect calls them. Gift cards to home improvement stores are also fantastic because you never know what crazy fixes will pop up. Oh and a good general how to book.

  28. Even though we already had one from the bits and pieces we'd put together as we needed them over the years, the all-in-one tool kit that we got as a wedding present has probably seen more use than anything else from our wedding registry. Helps so much that everything has a place where it's supposed to go (so we don't lose yet another tape measure) ;)

    Also, if you're planning on doing a lot of work yourself, an electronic multi tool along the lines of a dremel or something similar is probably our favorite power tool. Great for all sorts of small scale projects.

  29. Lamps! Like curtains, they're more expensive than you think (new) and you probably need them.

    Door mats (inside and out) were the biggest thing I didn't think of until everything was a mess. I like one in front of the kitchen sink too.

    I also love microfiber dusting cloths, and my feather duster.

    I always think it's nice to register for some fun/pretty stuff for friends and family who would like to get you a gift you will enjoy for a while, and not just find crazy useful. A wine rack? Flower pots/stands?

  30. Cat, yes to the flashlights! I have a few on every floor: an electric lantern, a snake light, a tri-pod light, a few handheld flashlights – because you need them to see under the sink where you need your hands so it must work hands-free, in closets, and in emergencies.

    I would add 3M wall hangers for putting up art on the walls. Even though you could nail into your walls, why would you when these are super strong? I also put those furniture sliders on the bottoms of all my furniture (so I wish I would have registered for them as they add up quick). They come in handy for moving the china cabinet to retrieve cat hair Rhinos.

    If you register for a hose, also register for a hose retract storage box.

    Go around the house and check out all the fixtures and register for replacements if any are leaky or nasty (faucets, showers, sinks). These can be expensive, but in range for gifting. You can put big ticket items on as well (grill, vacuum, dishwasher, washer, dryer) because groups like to sometimes go in on larger items that are really needed. I chipped in with a bunch of coworkers to buy a Bugaboo (read: overly expensive yet awesome stroller) for a girl in the office. There is buying power in groups. And if you really need something, people will feel good about a gift card because it can go towards something larger than they can afford.

    1 agrees
  31. Okay – tools. Lots of people have had really great ideas (stud-finder is awesome – helps you hang pictures, hooks, and shelves without ripping out your drywall the minute you put something heavy on it), but I'm going to make one, non-paid plug for a tool brand: Craftsman. They cost a little more than most tools, but they tend to be a bit higher quality AND (here's the kicker) if they EVER break or bend or have bits that don't work, Sears will exchange them for a brand new one NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Forever.

    You DO have to make sure you get the "forever guarantee" ones, though. I know they have a couple of lines now that are only partially guaranteed.

    Also – go easy on the kitchen stuff at first. It could be tempting to get every kitchen gadget ever, but you might not use them (ever) and you could run out of kitchen space real fast. My advice? Register for a nice set of durable dishware (especially if you have chipped, mismatched, or plastic stuff now) and heavy-duty cookware. One stockpot that can go in the oven, one saucepan, and one frying pan are about all you need. 9×13" and 8×8" glass baking dishes can also be used for casseroles AND cakes. Restaurant-style aluminum baking sheets (the kind with the edges) are also super versatile – they can make everything from brownies to cookies to roast pork loin to vegetables. It's better to have a few high-quality, versatile kitchen things (knives! Get good knives!) than a lot of crap. Plus, kitchen stuff is relatively inexpensive (even the good stuff) which makes them a nice, tangible, usable registry item.

    I also second making a list. We did that when I moved to NY from ND (into the boy's apartment – he didn't have a lot of stuff, and what he did have was mostly hand-me-down or cheap) we made a list of everything we needed, from a vacuum cleaner to cake pans to a new couch, and then kept our eyes peeled at thrift stores and for sales and saved money for the big stuff. We're still patiently adding to our furniture collection now that we're in a house (rented, alas).

    And keep in mind that while you can splurge on a few essentials up front, you can generally survive without a lot of stuff in the short-term. Even if your house looks empty, don't rush out and buy a furniture "set" from a big store – keep an eye out for quality, durable, comfortable, usable stuff that appeals to you. So good luck! And I think we need an update once you register!

    • Seconding this because it cannot be said enough: CRAFTSMAN HAND TOOLS. My father won't buy anything else, BECAUSE they will absolutely take them back and exchange them for any reason (for instance, he just changed some pliers because he wrecked them on something he was working on) forever. he's exchanged tools that were 20 years old. When my FH and I bought our house, buying Craftsman hand tools was the best advice we got. (second best advice was to register for Home Depot gift cards.:-/)
      The only other thing I could say is don't worry too much about details. live with stuff for a while and then decide what you want to do. We were planning on redoing our kitchen right away, but living with it as is has changed our plans. we're still going to redo it, but we'll do it differently now that we know how we're using it.

  32. Best wedding gift ever: The Black and Decker Home Repair book.

    We have used it to do a million projects on our new house that I never imagined we would be able to, like installing a completely new outlet in the middle of a wall, or replacing large amounts of drywall. Neither my husband nor I is especially handy, and this book has saved our butts on several occassions now. Even with internet at your fingertips, I recommend getting this book, or an equivalent (although we did some research and this is supposed to be the best – the person who gave it to us was in construction for years).

  33. Oh how many trips I have made to hardware store down the street since we bought our house! We discovered with a house that we needed more laundry baskets. I'm not sure why I can explain why we needed more laundry baskets when we bought our house, but maybe because the laundry was in the basement and our bedrooms were on the second floor? Also, for the yard, you may need loppers and clippers to trip bushes, trees, and other plants. And this fall, go buy yourself some bulbs and plant them. Daffodils and tulips. It will be lovely.

  34. A TOILET PLUNGER. Seriously, it's something that you don't think of buying until you NEED one right now.

    Get a stud-finder as well. Skip the electric ones that sense the wall "density" and instead get the $8 one that is literally just a fancy magnet. You just move it in a figure 8 on the wall until it sticks to one of the screws holding the drywall to the stud. You just double check up and down for more screws along that stud (just to be sure that the magnet didn't just find some rogue nail). Super simple.

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