We have to start this post with a caveat. We will share the things we’ve found to be the most helpful in our remodeling project thus far. I’m sure every home remodeler would create a different list and ours is no better than anyone else’s.
We do a lot of research and watch a lot of how to videos, but at the end of the day, we don’t always feel prepared for what’s coming. To be perfectly honest, if we were to sum up our adventure so far: we’re safely just wingin’ it.
People tend to think our peers have their lives together more than we do, are more sure about their decisions than we are, and are more prepared for what’s coming, but the reality is that we’re all just wingin’ it.
We’ve always dreamed of remodeling a home. Are we prepared? No. Are we going to figure it out? Yes. Will it be a roller coaster ride of successes, failures, emotional downfalls, and proud moments? It already has been.
Anyway, we didn’t know what we were doing, and we still don’t necessarily know what we’re doing. But we’re doing it. That is how we feel the Give’r mentality applies to this project.
Long caveat, I know. Now to the list. First things first:
This may be the top ten list in itself but I’m going to sum it up all into one “product.” When mountaineering, a lot of people would consider reaching the summit success.
A close friend taught me an important lesson: successful mountaineering can be measured by whether anyone got hurt and by how much you learned. The summit really had nothing to do with whether a climb was successful or not.
So, to avoid people getting hurt, PPE includes safety glasses/goggles, chemical and Give’r working gloves
, construction boots, respirators, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide sensors, ear plugs, etc.
Buy enough for everyone who will be helping on the project. It’s not a huge expense and is well worth the investment to avoid a huge medical expense.
LIGHTWEIGHT GIVE'R GLOVES
2) A stocked mini fridge and a pizza delivery company on speed dial
This is how we pay all of our friends for helping out. The investment paid for itself on Day 1. Every Saturday and Sunday our friends know where to find good times, free beer, free beverages, a sense of accomplishment, and probably a learning experience.
We are exponentially more productive with each additional set of helping hands. (We recommend saving the more fun projects for when your friends are around. Demolition is always fun, it allows people to let off steam and the results are very tangible).
Bonus: when we get an actual fridge, the mini fridge can easily be converted to a kegorator. We use the Magic Chef 4.4 Cubic Ft mini fridge
3) I hate to say it, but a smart phone or computer
We probably watch 4+ how-to videos per day to figure out how best to tackle the next project. Our house was built in 1905 so we frequent thisoldhouse.com
for videos and Houzz
for design ideas.
4) A Multi-tool
Far too often we’ll run into a situation where we need to go grab a tool we didn’t think we’d need for a very small task, like removing a screw, opening boxes or plastic packaging, pulling a nail out of the wall, cracking open a celebration beverage, etc. If we had to open 20 boxes or remove 20 screws, we’d go find a box cutter or a screwdriver, but it’s often one box or one nail and a multi tool will get the job done quickly.
5) Something to organize your tools for each project
One of the more frustrating parts of remodeling is the amount of time spent searching for a certain tool/fastener/material. We split our materials and tools into five categories, each with their own designated area in the basement: general tools, plumbing, electrical, woodworking and specialty (tile, drywall, cement tools).
For project organization, many would recommend a tool belt but we have come to love the Husky Bucket Jockey
. For each project we fill the bucket jockey with all the tools and materials that we’ll need for whatever project we’re tackling that day and always return each tool to the jockey when we’re done with it. This saves a priceless amount of time.
6) Demolition tools!
No question, our favorite demo tool is an 18-inch pry bar
with an adjustable head made by Crescent. This thing is a monster when it comes to ripping out drywall or lathe and plaster walls and ceilings and pulling out nails. We also used it for removing the existing plumbing and electrical clips and staples.
7) Electric screwdriver/drill
We use a cordless Rigid 18V drill
that just makes life so much easier. If we’re removing more than 4 screws, it’s worth grabbing the electric screwdriver to avoid our hands cramping up by the end of the day. Rigid honors their tools lifetime warranty as well.
8) Pex crimp tool
If you’re tackling plumbing, we can’t recommend Pex piping enough. We plumbed 80% of our house before turning the water on and not a single fitting leaked. We used Apollo brand Pex tubing, fittings and tools, and were extremely impressed with their performance. If you know someone who has installed Pex before, they’ll likely have the tool
and be happy to lend it to you. It’s one of those products that one person buys and all of our friends borrow.
9) Carhartt pants/overalls.
I don the classic Carhartt
work pants while Quinn
rocks the overalls. We use these for several reasons.
First, they’re incredibly durable and protect us from many scratches and scrapes.
Second, they have a hammer belt loop and HUGE pockets for carrying around all those tools, nails, screws, clips, etc.
Third: when they’re finally broken in, they become very comfortable and become a badge of pride. They seem to say: “This person put a lot of work into something.”
10) For electrical, the Commercial Electric 8-inch Multi-Purpose Wiring Tool
This cuts, crimps, strips, and bends wires with ease. Just make sure you break whichever circuit you’re working on or you’re in for a shock! This product is $10 at Home Depot
and worth every penny.
Honorable mentions: snow shovel for use as a massive dustpan, journal for the project-related thoughts and ideas that pop up throughout every day, shopvac for general cleanliness and to quickly clear any evidence of mistakes.
We’re very early on in the remodel project so the list is biased towards the front-end construction trades. It will likely transform as we move into the project finish trades.
Hopefully, you find this list helpful and/or it gives you the confidence to take that big project you’ve been considering to Give’r!
Just wingin’ it,
-JC and Quinn