Tackling home projects on your own has many advantages. For starters, it can be difficult to hire someone to do good work on time and on budget. By doing the work yourself, you may prevent awkward conflicts or even expensive legal matters—plus you can save a bundle by keeping your home projects in-house. Many times you can cut your costs.

That doesn’t mean everything will be easy when you embrace DIY. After all, learning curves are curvy, but nothing beats using your own hands to make your home feel like home. To begin down the path of becoming a self-sufficient DIYer, you’ll want to purchase some essentials.

1. Basic Toolkit:
It doesn’t have to be big, include power tools or cost a fortune, but everyone should have a toolkit that includes a quality hammer, an assortment of nails and screws, different sized Phillips and standard screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, a vise grip, a level and adjustable wrenches or a wrench set, basic small hand-saw, and a tape measure. Some projects will require more specialized tools but that’s okay, you can expand your kit over time.  

You know all the extra screws and parts that come in things you have to assemble? Hang on to those—you never know when they’ll be just right for another job. And if you’re getting rid of something, take off the good hardware before you toss it. Reusing saves resources and saves you money! 

2. Safety Glasses:
Not sexy, and they can be hot as all get-out to wear, but donning safety glasses sure beats having a sliver of wood, tile, or a million other potentially damaging items get in your eye. Safety glasses come in a variety of sizes and price ranges—and some even let you demonstrate a sense of style as you hammer, pry and chisel your way to a beautiful home. 

If you wear glasses, make sure you try the safety glasses on over them to check for a comfortable fit before you make your purchase. You don’t want to have to run back to the store, or complete your project uncomfortably (no fun) or somewhat blindly (which could cause you to hurt yourself and nullify the “safety” you were seeking). 

3. Rags and Drop-Cloths:
This may seem like a “duh” item, but nothing is more frustrating than getting ready to do a messy job only to discover you don’t have adequate protection for your floors, cabinets or furniture—or a good way to clean up the spills and messes you WILL make. I recommend purchasing a fairly thick, large plastic drop-cloth for really messy jobs when you’re working with substances that have the potential to soak through a fabric drop-cloth.

Save your old sheets and shower curtains/liners. These make fine drop-cloths for painting and sanding. Old T-shirts and towels? Cut them up for use as rags. By repurposing old items in new ways, you’ll save money and practice planet-friendly design tactics.

4. Work Clothes:
Designated work clothes may be ratty, worn and stained, but they will display an entire history of your past projects, and there’s a certain nobility to them. I pull mine out with pride from the bottom of my drawer when I get in the zone to do battle with my latest project. On TV, you see people in cute outfits working on home projects without breaking a sweat. Here in the real world, you will sweat, splatter, spill and be coated in dust, dirt and grime. My best advice: If you would hate to ruin it, don’t wear it. 

Make sure to build up a stash of grubby clothes that will last at least several days, so you can at least begin the day feeling fresh when you’re tackling a larger, multi-day project.

5.  A Multi-Purpose Ladder(s):
I saved the best for last! To me, a strong, comfortable ladder is the most important tool for a DIYer. A quality ladder with a solid, stable place to stand will allow you to work long hours with less fatigue—and less chance of injury. In our home, we have a ladder collection: a stepstool with a wide, non-slip surface and locking mechanism, a stepladder with comfortable steps and trays for tool storage, and a collapsible extension ladder. My husband loves the extension ladder because it can be configured multiple ways (and it prompts “ladder envy” among his buddies).

TIP: Ladders, especially extension ladders, can be expensive so watch for sales at your favorite home improvement center to be sure you’re getting the most for your money. Don’t skimp because a quality ladder will last for years and years!

Home projects can be fun and fulfilling, but if you don’t have the right stuff to tackle the project, it can quickly become an exercise in frustration. Check your supplies before you tackle your next DIY or honey-do project and make it easier on you and your honey.

For best results, add The Redesign Toolkit to your arsenal and use it plan and execute your next project!

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?