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PODCAST: Must Have Tool For Home Owners

Reuben and Tessa go over a list of tools every homeowner must have in the house. 

They talk about flashlights, drills and bit sets, socket sets and wrench adapters, screwdrivers and wrenches, tape measures, utility knives, hammers, pliers, and ladders. Reuben highlights that these tools are very useful for DIY projects while Tessa mentions that the tools are not for everyone. 

Read Reuben’s blog post about these tools here: Must-own tool list for every homeowner – Structure Tech Home Inspections.



The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.


Reuben Saltzman: Welcome to My House. Welcome to the Structure Talk Podcast, a production of Structure Tech Home Inspections. My name is Reuben Saltzman, I’m your host, alongside building science geek, Tessa Murry. We help home inspectors up their game through education, and we help homeowners to be better stewards of their houses. We’ve been keeping it real on this podcast since 2019, and we are also the number one home inspection podcast in the world, according to my mom. Welcome to another episode of the Structure Talk Podcast, Tessa, as always, good to see you. What’s new? 

Tessa: Hey, Reuben. Good to see you too. Well, as you know, we got hit with a late April snowstorm again.


RS: Yes, just last week, we were talking about all of this flooding, and all this rapid melt we’re getting, and people are out sun tanning, and now we get another snowstorm, and as I look out my window, everything is covered in snow.

Tessa: Oh my gosh, hopefully it won’t last long enough for you to be able to snowmobile, significantly, but…

RS: I hope you’re right.

Tessa: It’s funny ’cause just like, three days ago, it was like 90 degrees, we had record-breaking heat here, and I’ve been working out at the wedding venue a lot recently, we’re starting to have more weddings now. And we had the landscape out, and he planted all these beautiful flowers and some of these planters around the buildings, out there yesterday, and they just got buried in snow, so we brushed off all the snow and then put tarps over ’em and stuff, and hopefully they’ll survive, but it’s… What do you expect? We’re in Minnesota, we get… We always get teased at least once with summer and then winter hits again.

RS: We do. We do, and I… Unwinterized my outside faucet and I connect to my garden hose, and I was spraying down all the floor mats for my truck and all that, and I just thought about it right now, everything’s covered in snow, it’s all frozen, and I’ve I got my garden hose attached to the side of my house with water in it.

Tessa: Oh, no.

RS: Like what responsible homeowner am I being right now? 

Tessa: You’re not the only one. I have done the same thing. It’s supposed to be well above freezing today, so just the yesterday and one night where it was really cold.

RS: Okay, good, good, good. All right.

Tessa: So what’s the topic of today, Reuben? What do we wanna dive into? 

RS: Okay. This is jumping on to the blog following along with what I’ve been writing about lately, and this one is gonna be a tool list for homeowners. Not long ago, we did a podcast, and I wrote a blog about a tool list for home inspectors, and I think we even had Eric on the show when we were doing that.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And we talked about a bunch of our favorite home inspection tools. Although, we only got through half the list, I’ve got such a long list of home inspection tools, but it got me thinking there’s a lot of must-have tools for every homeowner. And I got to thinking about this as I was at a family member’s house helping with a little project, and I was just a little bit frustrated at the lack of tools that were there, and it was one of those unplanned projects, where it’s like, “We weren’t planning to do anything, but, hey, while you’re here, let’s do this,” and it just… It took way longer than it should, due to lack of proper tools. And so I’ve got a list for every homeowner, okay? And this is mostly for me, if I happen by your house, I want the right tools at my disposal.

Tessa: You know what, and I’m just…

RS: Oh I said so…

Tessa: I’m laughing, Reuben, because I’ve read your blogpost and I’ve seen this tool list, this must-have tool list that you say, and I would say it’s a must have for you, but not every homeowner is going to be doing all of these projects around the house and all of these other things. And so if you do have all these tools, good on you, but if you don’t, I don’t think it’s the end of the world.

RS: Okay, all right, well, as we go through these, I want you to be the opposition, I want you to argue why you don’t want these tools or why they’re not all that necessary. How’s that sound? 

Tessa: And I think it’ll be fun. Let’s do it.

RS: Okay. First tool, every homeowner needs, you’re ready, Tess? 

Tessa: I’m ready, hit me.

RS: A flashlight.

Tessa: Is this in order of…

RS: I’ll do that…

RS: Is this in order of importance, by the way? 

RS: No, but I think flashlight might be the most important one on there…

Tessa: I would agree with that…

RS: Okay, all right. We’re one for one.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And now, now my two cents on the flashlight, you can get any old flashlight, you can get some 30-year-old hand-me-down Maglite that takes the D cell batteries, it’s got a fragile bulb that hardly casts any light, you drop the flashlight once, your bulb’s gonna go bad, or you could get yourself a decent flashlight, and it’s gonna be powered by a lithium-ion battery, it’s rechargeable, it’s got 10 times the power, and it lasts forever, and it’s gonna be something like the 1,000 lumen class or higher. That, that would be my advice, is get a decent flashlight that’s gonna hold a charge and it’s gonna get the job done, my favorite brand for those is Fenix, but there are a gazillion brands out there, and I think you can get a really good flashlight for somewhere in the neighborhood of about 50 bucks today. What do you think about that, Tess? 

Tessa: I would agree with that. Before I became a home inspector, I just bought your average cheap flashlight and used those, and you just… You go through so many batteries, and the light is so dim, that once I got a… I got a Fenix, of course, after you recommended that. It’s been amazing.

RS: Okay, all right, good. All right, so everybody ought to get a good flashlight. Number two on my list, a cordless drill. How do you feel about that, Tess? 

Tessa: I think a cordless drill is a very handy thing to have around, I would say, if you’re just starting off and you’re on a budget, this would be something that you could aspire to having as long as you have various screwdrivers, you can get the job done, but it’s very nice, it’s a luxury to have a drill, for sure.

RS: Okay. You’re upgrading that to a luxury. All right.

Tessa: For you, you probably use your drill every day, multiple times, right? 

RS: I’m pretty sure…

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: I’m sure I do. Now, here’s my advice on a drill. Don’t settle for some hand-me-down 20, 30-year-old drill from your parents. And it’s gonna have a nickel-cadmium battery that has a wicked memory, where it’ll hold a charge for about three minutes. You pull the battery off the charger, you got a fresh battery, you run it for about three minutes and then your battery, it’s dead. I have used those drills. Don’t do it. If you’re gonna get a drill, get a decent drill, spend a little bit of money on it. Tess, I still remember the first drill I got. I got a RYOBI toolset at a garage sale, and I bought new lithium-ion batteries for these drills. And I still have that drill that I got at a garage sale probably 20 years ago.

Tessa: Wow.

RS: And since I’ve gotten newer batteries. But the drill still works fine. It’s a big 18-volt drill, and I’ve had it for a long, long time. Well worth the money. I’ve bought new drills since then. I like to have, a lot of drills.

Tessa: Yeah, sure you do.

RS: But, it’s not like it’s some tool that you’re gonna use once or twice this year and you’ll never use again. It’s something you will keep using over and over again.

Tessa: I picture, like Mr. Rogers with his closet full of various, the sweaters, you opening up your garage, and there just being a wall of different colored drills, sizes, brands.

RS: You are totally right.

Tessa: Which flavor of the day do I wanna use.

RS: I have so many cordless drills. Don’t know why. Way more than I need.

Tessa: Well, you know what’s funny? My mom, actually, she still has this drill that, this is a generation before the ones you’re talking about that are old, that have the batteries that only last for three seconds. This one doesn’t even have a battery. You have to plug it in. And it weighs like 10 pounds and it’s like solid steel.

RS: Yes.

Tessa: It’s like a beast. And it still works. It still works. It’s just… It’s not practical at all ’cause you need a cord and it’s super heavy and bulky and all that. But she still has it.

RS: Yeah. And it’s probably a single-speed drill, when you pull the trigger, and the motor’s just full speed.

Tessa: Yeah, definitely.

RS: I had one of those. It was a hand-me-down for my grandpa. My grandpa was a carpenter. And I had a hand-me-down from my grandpa for the longest time, and after not pulling it out of the shelf for about eight years straight, I finally said, “Okay, I don’t need this.” And I don’t know what I did with it. I don’t think I have it anymore. But…

Tessa: Yeah. Yeah. They’re relics. They’re relics.

RS: I still have so many drills.

Tessa: I would say… I know you recommend having a cordless drill for homeowners, but one tool that I think I would… If I had to choose between a cordless drill and an impact driver. I would choose an impact driver.

RS: Interesting. Okay.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And I might too, Tess. That’s…

Tessa: Would you? 

RS: That’s a tough one. I debated whether it should be a drill or an impact driver.

Tessa: So I did a recent DIY project at my parents’ house and put up some shelving in one of their rooms in the basement. And also, just a week ago, did the same thing in their garage. And I survived with just a drill for a very long time, years ago, I left my impact driver at someone’s house after an inspection and I never got it back. So, yeah, that was heartbreaking. But I was trying to do this project with a regular drill and I just… I couldn’t get it done. I couldn’t sink the screws into the studs, and it was just like, I was sweating, it was ridiculous. I’m like, “I need to get an impact driver.” So I went to the hardware store and I was overwhelmed by all the choices there are these days. I mean brands and sizes and I mean brushless or not. And I was like, I have no idea. And ultimately I just got a 12-volt Milwaukee impact driver, ’cause I have a Milwaukee 12-volt drill…

RS: For plotting, okay, good.

Tessa: Yeah. And I’m having the decision because I can use the batteries interchangeably with all my other Milwaukee tools, and it’s small and it’s lightweight, and I’ve never run out of battery using it. I don’t think I would need anything bigger than that for stuff I’m doing. So yeah, I would vote impact driver…

RS: That’s a fantastic choice, Tess. And you know what? I applaud that. I love it. And if I was just gonna buy one tool myself, I would probably go with an impact driver over a screwdriver too. And I would get the exact same one. That would be a great starter one. Exactly what you just described. The Milwaukee 12-volt. It is tiny, powerful, it’ll get the job done.

Tessa: Yeah. Yeah. We agree on that.

RS: And that brings us to accessories a little bit. One argument for getting a drill over an impact driver is that a drill can be more versatile. You can get more bits. I mean, you can put drill bits into a drill. However, today you can buy a full drill bit set that has hex bases that you just slip into your impact driver. And you can still use it an impact driver to drill holes. It works just fine.

Tessa: Exactly. Or an adapter. Right? Like an adapter that you put in to your…

RS: You probably could. I’ve never tried using an adapter.

Tessa: With all the tools, it’s just as versatile, as a drill.

RS: Yeah, so get a drill. And Tessa, you and I both agree, for the first one, that a homeowner buys, you don’t need a big 18-volt. 12-volt is gonna be just fine.

Tessa: Yeah. Agreed.

RS: Okay.

Tessa: Agreed.

RS: All right. Cool. Next one. Let’s stick with the drill theme. I say if you have a drill, or an impact driver, you need a bit set.

Tessa: Yes. Okay.

RS: Will you back me up there? 

Tessa: Yeah. What accessory should we buy if we buy an impact driver or drill? Reuben? Tell us, there’s a lot of options out there.

RS: Well, you’ll need a bit set, it’s a total rookie move to take a little, like, Phillips bit and stick it right into your driver so you’re having to put your driver right up against the screw. You need a bit holder, it’s a magnetic extension piece. And then you put your bits into the bit holder. Any kit you buy is probably gonna come with a magnetic bit holder. Always just leave that in your impact driver or your drill. And then you need a full set of bits, and it’s gonna be various sizes of Phillips, of slotted, of square bit, also known as Robertson Bits. If you’re really geeky.

Tessa: I did not know that. You learn something new every day.

RS: Good. And torx bits. And another name for those, some people might call ’em star bits. And so you’ll have assorted sizes in all of these. That’s a good starter bit set.

Tessa: And how much do you think you’ll spend on that? Like a good set.

RS: You could spend whatever you want. I… For some reason, I think you and I have talked about this, around Christmas time, Home Depot and Menards, they’ve got all these little wings stacks in the middle of isles and they got this big bulk area in the middle of Home Depot where they put all this stuff up there and they’ve got bit sets for five bucks. And I just, I’m addicted to those…

Tessa: You go nuts.

RS: I’m gonna buy bit sets and I’ve got, I don’t know, I probably have about a thousand bits at my house. I don’t know what my problem is.

Tessa: Oh my gosh. Some people are addicted to shoes. You’re addicted to bits.

RS: For sure. For sure. But you can, you can spend five bucks and get a halfway decent bit set. This is never gonna be one of those, “break the bank.”

Tessa: Yes. [laughter]

RS: Type of thing.

Tessa: Yeah. So there’s not a certain brand or anything that you’d say this is better than the other and this will last longer, invest in that? 

RS: I’m guess… I’m just… I’m a fan of everything, Milwaukee.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: So I’m guessing Milwaukee’s is probably better, but I’ve never taken the time to seek them out. I just buy whatever’s on sale.

Tessa: Okay. Sounds good.

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: So bit set. Is there anything else? Accessories? 

RS: Well, I’d say drill bits. If you’re gonna have a drill or an impact driver, get a bit set, you wanna be able to drill holes in things when necessary.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And I’d say a good starter set is gonna go up to three a seven inch, and don’t, I don’t know, I don’t like relying on a drill bit set that comes with all of your other bit tips, because usually it’s gonna be really low quality black steel, and it’s gonna dull the first time you drill into metal. Get a halfway decent drill bit set. You might, you might spend 20, 30 bucks on it, something like that. Can you agree? 

Tessa: Well.

RS: A drill bit set is a good thing to have.

Tessa: I was thinking about that. I might push back a little bit. I used to, the drill bits for home inspections when we would have to, and not all the time, but sometimes when we would do flue gas analysis on like furnaces. And we would stick the probe inside the flue to check for CO and stuff. You’d have to drill a hole if there wasn’t one already. But that was, that was the only time we would use it. And I’ve only used my drill bits at home a handful of times, again, like putting up shelving or pre-drilling something.

RS: Yes. Yes. Exactly.

Tessa: Yeah. So I wouldn’t say I’ve ever gone through metal at home. I’ve just gone through drywall and into wood and it’s…

RS: Okay.

Tessa: It’s not an everyday thing.

RS: Really not an everyday thing.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: But you need those bits.

Tessa: You do.

RS: You will agree there? 

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: For every time you gotta drill into the wall, drill into a stud, you got hollow wall anchors, whatever it is.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And yeah, and my two cents is, you’re a first-time homeowner, you’re gonna have these bits for a long time.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Don’t get something that’s gonna dull after you have used it five to 10 times. It’s, you will have it for a long time. So either way, whether you get the super cheap ones or you get better ones, you need, you need drill bits to go along with your drill. We can agree on that.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: All right. Now here’s one I bet you’re gonna push back on, a socket set. What do you think about that, Tessa? 

Tessa: We have one, but I cannot tell you the last time I used it.

RS: Okay.

Tessa: I can’t even remember.

RS: Okay.

Tessa: What do you use yours for? 

RS: Boy, I use it for everything.

Tessa: Really? 

RS: Not all the time, but I mean putting chairs together, furniture, just, okay. I’ll think about the last time I did it. I was putting up a mount for a TV in the living room. And the fasteners that go into the wall.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Are these big hex head fasteners that you need a socket wrench to…

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: To drill in.

Tessa: Okay.

RS: Without a socket set. How you doing it? 

Tessa: So, TV mounts, that’s a practical application. I think everybody would agree with. We all have TVs in our houses and installing those.

RS: And if you’re gonna do any type of work on a bicycle, if you wanna do any of your own work, putting stuff together, taking it apart.

Tessa: I’ll pass on that.

RS: More deep dive.

Tessa: I’ll pass on that.

RS: Not working on your own bike? 

Tessa: I’ll take my bike to the bike shop.

RS: Okay. All right. Very good. The lawnmower, I’ve got a bagger attachment and every time I wanna put it on or take it off, I need a socket set.

Tessa: Really? 

RS: I got a bolt that needs to be adjusted there. The bike rack for our car. Whenever I wanna put that on and take it off, I’ve got a bolt that I need to go in the trailer hitch.

Tessa: Okay. That’s quite a few things.

RS: The list goes on.

Tessa: I can see how your life…

RS: And this is just the stuff that I do frequently.

Tessa: Yeah. I can see how your life requires a socket set.

RS: Yeah. And again, for the socket set, I’d say, get a full set, don’t accept some hand me down hodgepodge kit. I bought my first socket set when I was 16. I was working at a hardware store. I still have that set.

Tessa: The fact that you remember that, it must have made an impact in your young life.

RS: Probably, probably.

Tessa: It was the beginning of your love of tools in your, and various collections.

RS: I think so, definitely. And it’s just, it’s one of those things, you buy it, spend a little bit more, and you’re gonna have it for a long time.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And I’ve lost various sockets over the years but, buy replacements.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Keep my kit full.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And on that, I’ll say get, get a full kit that also has deep sockets, ’cause the first time you’re working on a project, you got something all taken apart or you’re halfway through a project and you realize you need a deep socket to complete your project and you don’t have one, it is heartbreaking.

Tessa: Can you explain, can we back this up a second? Can you explain what the difference is between a deep socket and just a regular socket wrench just for anyone listening that doesn’t know.

RS: All right how do I use words to describe this? So a regular socket wrench will fit over a nut and you can fasten this nut down and the nut gets deeper and deeper onto a screw coming through. But if you’ve got a screw that’s a little bit too long as you keep tightening down this nut, the nut gets further and further down along the shaft of the screw to the point where you’ve got more than an inch of screw protruding and all of a sudden it’s protruding so much it won’t fit in your socket. Your socket isn’t deep enough to even touch the nut anymore. And unless you’ve got a deep socket, you can’t get your job done. So…

Tessa: That must drive you nuts. I’m sure that’s happened to you a few times.

RS: Pun intended, Tess, right? 


Tessa: Yes. [laughter]

RS: Or it does not allow me to drive me nuts.


RS: Yes. However you wanna put it. Yeah. Very very frustrating.

Tessa: You go just a bit crazy without all the right tools, another pun intended. Sorry. Okay, moving on. [chuckle]

RS: Every home needs a socket set. That’s what I’m saying, Tess. And some socket sets are gonna come with a bunch of extra bits and all these other little things that fit inside them. I don’t like the idea of depending on that solely, maybe you could use that as a backup. But every time I gotta a… I need to get a bit for my drill. I don’t want to have to log out my socket set and go digging through that. I just want a nice, handy little container that that has my bits.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: So it’s only as a backup.

Tessa: Now can I ask a quick question? 

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: Do you keep these bits accessible? Like all of these tools somewhere in your garage or it sounds like you use them a lot. Where do you have someplace that’s easily accessible to grab them? 

RS: Great question Tess. The primary location is in the garage. That’s where like the mother load goes.


RS: But as far as bits go, I’ve got these little four volt drills that I keep in my kitchen. I got one in the kitchen, one in the basement. It’s just a little RYOBI. It’s basically an electronic screwdriver.

Tessa: Okay. Yeah.

RS: It’s not gonna drill anything you would never put a drill bit in these, but it’s just because I’m lazy. I don’t wanna use a regular screwdriver. I’ve got those. And so I’ve got a bit set in my kitchen. I’ve got a bit set in the basement and then all the rest of them get stored in the garage. Just to be handy.

Tessa: Sounds like you’re well prepared for any situation.


RS: Pretty much. Would’ve been a good question.

Tessa: Every level of your house, almost every room has its own. [laughter]

RS: Well, and you know what? While we’re on that, we’re talking about tools, you should have on every level of the house.


RS: I will add that this is a tool that every homeowner should have. Try to argue with me Tessa, a tape measure.

Tessa: I’m not gonna argue with you on that one.

RS: Okay.

Tessa: I think that is definitely a must have. And it’s so affordable that no one can really make any excuses as to why they wouldn’t have that in their collection.

RS: No, no, no. Is there a minimum length of tape measures someone should have? 

Tessa: Oh, minimum length. You can get by with a 16 foot if you’re just doing standard stuff. But I think you need something that’s like a 25 foot or, I don’t want anything that’s super huge and bulky either.

RS: I’m with you. I think 25 foot is a good length to have.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Yeah. Yeah. At least a 25 footer.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And then maybe get some smaller ones that you would distribute throughout the rest of the house.


RS: I’ve got one in my office. We’ve got one in the kitchen. My wife’s got one in her office. I mean, people are always taking tape measures.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Don’t know why, but you always need a tape measure for something and it’s just handy to have a bunch of them. They’re cheap.

Tessa: Yeah. It is true. I feel like I’ve got like four or five of them and seems like I can never find them when I need them, ’cause they’ve always moved to different locations.

RS: You end up using it more often when you have it accessible.

Tessa: Agreed.

RS: Here’s another one. A tool to distribute throughout the house. And art. Tell me, you can’t have one of these. A utility knife, Tessa.

Tessa: Yeah. Yeah. Yes, I would agree. Again, it falls in that category, it’s affordable and there’s lots of uses for it.

RS: Yes, yes. So affordable. And that’s another one of those where, I’d see them buy a three pack for eight bucks or whatever and oh, okay, I’ll get a three pack and it’s just the collapsible utility knife, the ones that fold in half. So I have those distributed throughout the house got them everywhere. I buy utility blades, buy the 100 pack. So I never work with dull blades. And my advice, if you’re buying a utility knife, don’t get the clunky old ones that your grandpa had where you’d need to take a screwdriver and unscrew the handle to change the blade. That is such a pain in the butt. You get the quick change, right? 

Tessa: I’m laughing because that’s the utility knife that I used when I was inspecting and I would not recommend it at all. It was cheap, but what a pain in the butt to have to unscrew it and take it apart to put a new blade in.

RS: Yes.

Tessa: And then you can never get the blade lined up properly and you can’t get it closed and the little button is falling out. So I would agree with you. Splurge, spend a little bit more money and get the kind where you just, it’s an easy release for the blade and then you put it back in.

RS: Yes, yes. And you know what I really like is the type of utility knife that folds in half. You don’t have a blade that slides in and out, you just have it where it folds in half in the middle. That’s the only moving part that you have really. They don’t fail. They’re easy to open. They take up half the space. They’re great. And if you really want a nice one, I mean, if you want a splurge and spend like 15 bucks on a utility knife.

Tessa: Let me guess.

RS: You could get…

Tessa: Is it Milwaukee? [laughter]

RS: Yes, yes. You nailed it. Yeah, it’s the Milwaukee.

Tessa: They’re not sponsoring this by the way. We just have to let our listeners know. Right Ruben? They’re not…

RS: They’re not, although I’m working on that, I sure wish they would. I just like there shows.

Tessa: Maybe after they listen to this podcast.

RS: Maybe. Maybe.

Tessa: Yeah. Can we can only hope…

RS: I can ask them. I’ve reach out to them.

Tessa: Oh, you have? 

RS: Yeah, I have. Just ’cause I love their tools. I talk about it so much. I ought to be paid.

Tessa: I agree. Yeah. Yeah. Add to your collection.

RS: Yep. But they do have a utility knife, I think it’s called the, it’s the fast back and it’s just got a little button you push and then you flip it open and it feels ergonomic. It just feels good in your hand. It’s got spaces for your fingers to go in there that that’s the one to get. Otherwise, the point is you need a utility knife, don’t settle for the little hobby knife with the breakaway disposable blades.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: I mean, okay. If you wanna keep one in your office, fine, I’ll allow it, but…


Tessa: Oh, man.

RS: That’s it.

Tessa: No excuses.

RS: No.

Tessa: That’s good. Well, Ruben, we’ve already… We’ve spent what, almost 30 minutes talking about this must have list, and we are not through it yet. How many minutes? 

RS: We’re not through it should you’re thinking, do we go to a part two? I don’t think I have a whole lot left to cover.

Tessa: Okay. So let’s just…

RS: I think we can finish this.

Tessa: Let’s finish it out. Yeah.

RS: Okay. Alright.

Tessa: Okay. So what’s next? 

RS: Next would be a hammer for hitting things.

Tessa: Yes.

RS: What do you think? 

Tessa: Must have. Must have.

RS: Must have. Okay…

Tessa: I mean, even if you’re the most like novice you don’t do any DIY projects at home, you still need to hammer to hang that occasional picture to, I don’t know. We could be creative and come up with the…

RS: There’s a million uses for a hammer.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Everybody needs one. They’re cheap.

Tessa: Yep.

RS: Get a hammer. Okay. Next a pliers. A pair of pliers. And I’ll be specific. I’ll say get a long nose pliers, because a long nose pliers is more versatile than your traditional set of pliers. What do you think.

Tessa: I would agree with that, is that is another name for that. A needle nose pliers. Is that something different.

RS: We get to technical now but a long nose pliers it has a longer nose than a traditional pair of pliers, but a true needle nose is gonna be really thin and it’s only good for more delicate work. And the, what do you call it? What are the… What’s the business end of a pliers called.

Tessa: The business end? [laughter] I’m not getting this bonus question.

RS: Well, whatever those things are called, they’re gonna be thin and they bend much more easily on a needle nose pliers.

Tessa: Okay.

RS: So some people may use the terms interchangeably, but a long nose pliers is gonna be much thicker on the end.

Tessa: Okay. Yeah.

RS: So it’ll do more serious business.

Tessa: I would agree with that. I think that’s a good tool to have.

RS: All right.

Tessa: And actually, you know what, one tool that I think is great that I have that covers the basis of the last few things we’ve talked about is actually like a multi-tool or like a Leatherman, something that’s got a lot of these things all in one. I love those.

RS: Yes. Love those two. My favorite one is made by Gerber. It’s, called the Gerber Crucial. And I have…

Tessa: I’m Googling that right now.

RS: I like it so much that I bought backups, [laughter], and…

Tessa: Wait for anybody that’s listening to this, obviously you’re listening. This is a podcast. You can’t see it. Ruben just scrambled, rolled across his floor mat to a shelf on his desk and pulled out this tool.


RS: And it’s in an unopened package. Just in case I lose one, I’ve got another one in a package because I can’t live without it.

Tessa: Ruben, would you say that all of these Stash tools throughout your home in various location gives you comfort? 

RS: Absolutely. Tessa [laughter]

Tessa: I can imagine.

RS: Very much so. When I travel, it’s like, all right, what tools can I bring and what can’t I bring through security? 

Tessa: I was just thinking that like, what happens when you go on vacation and you’re packing your bag and you’re like you’re leaving behind all your security blankets.

RS: I am. And you know what the multi-tool is the one thing I just don’t want to compromise on. I will check my bag just so I can bring that.


Tessa: Oh, and how many times have you saved the day on vacation because of your little Gerber crucial.

RS: Every time Tess.


RS: Every time.


RS: There’s always something. It’s so nice to have a pliers.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: I don’t know. And a blade.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: For some reason or another.

Tessa: It’s for all those times that you don’t know what you’re gonna need it for. Those moments that surprise you. You’re always…

RS: I’ve remembered there was one day we were just, we came to the office and we had a meeting set up in the basement and nobody had scheduled the head to have the door unlocked. And it was like, “Oh, got it.” Just popped out the multi-tool, took out the slotted screwdriver, whatever you call it, thing and pop the hinges out of the door. And we proceeded to have our meeting.

Tessa: Wait, what [laughter] rewind. We are now breaking into various secured rooms with our multi- tool.

RS: It’s a room we had permission to be in. We just didn’t, the door hadn’t been unlocked.

Tessa: Oh my gosh. That is classic.

RS: It’s just about having tools.

Tessa: Ruben you’re the person that everybody wants to have with them in case something happens you’ve got the tool to get the job done.

RS: I’m that dork. I’m that geek [laughter] I think, yeah.

Tessa: Only you would be like, “Oh, this lock door won’t stop us. Let me just take the hinges off.” [laughter]

RS: Yeah, pretty much. Pretty much.

Tessa: Actually I did that back when I was living in Roseville. This was after I graduated college. I had a storage unit in the basement and I lost the lock for my padlock on it. And so I just took the hinges off the door [laughter] to get in.

RS: Smart.

Tessa: And it Worked.

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: I had no other options.

RS: It’s nice to be able to circumvent that stuff, isn’t it? 


RS: Alright, we’re almost done with our list. Few other things here. Next one. An adjustable wrench. Now I wanna say Crescent Wrench. But Crescent is a brand name. We just need to say an adjustable wrench. It’s one of those wrenches where it’s got this little worm drive thingy where you adjust the threads and you can change the opening of the wrench to be big or small. I think that’s a good tool for everybody to have. What do you think Tess? 

Tessa: You’ve thought a lot about this and these tools are definitely practical things to have, but I can’t remember the last time I used one to be honest. But I’m not doing like plumbing projects or I don’t know. I’m assembling, I haven’t assembled things in a while, so…

RS: Yeah. And this is probably more commonly used on plumbing projects I think. I mean it’s, if you wanna replace your own faucet or you’re doing really any type of plumbing project.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: You’re probably gonna need one of these. You’re probably gonna need an adjustable wrench and I’m not saying get the full open-end box wrench set. Just one adjustable wrench.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Will get you so much farther along. This is probably one of my lower priority items. Because you are getting into some different stuff. Maybe some plumbing here, but…

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: I used it when I used to wrench on my bikes when I was a teenager too. Just handy to have those. So I’ll say an adjustable wrench. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on it. Probably my favorite one is actually made not by Crescent. It’s made by Channel lock, which again, is a brand name.

Tessa: Okay.

RS: And this one is called The WideAzz Wrench. W-I-D-E-A-Z-Z. And it’s got super wide jaws and it’s a really short handle, so it can fit in your tool pouch, but it’s very versatile. Love that one. And then, all right, we’re almost done with the list. Two more here.

Tessa: Okay.

RS: A precision screwdriver set, a jeweler’s screwdriver set little screwdrivers.

Tessa: Oh, the tiny ones.

RS: For the little stuff.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Tiny ones. $2 set. Maybe a $5 set.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: What do you think? 


Tessa: You can get by without it, but like once every few years, you’ll probably need it for something. Either your glasses fall apart or you have to replace a battery on something small, and it has one of those little screws. And you’ll be trying to figure out how to open it. Ask me how I know, like using knives, using [chuckle], whatever you have around, but it’ll be so much handy, or if you have these little precision screwdriver sets.

RS: Yep, yep. It is. I have some reason to pull mine out at least monthly, I think.

Tessa: Monthly.

RS: Monthly.

Tessa: Wow.

RS: And even if I’m not even turning screws, even if I’m just using the little slotter den and I’m sitting on a long call and I’m looking at my keyboard and I’m looking at all this gunk and these little cracks in my keyboard, and I’ll pull all my slotted and I’ll be cleaning my keyboard while I’m on a long call or something. I mean, just whatever.

Tessa: To clean underneath your fingernails, you know? 

RS: Yes. Thank you. Thank you.

Tessa: No, no.

RS: Don’t tell anyone about this.


Tessa: As a toothpick after a meal.

RS: All right. I have my limits Tess.


Tessa: Oh, okay. You’ve made your case. Yes. They are helpful and useful to have multipurpose, apparently.

RS: And cheap. And cheap.

Tessa: And cheap. Yeah. Okay, so what’s the last thing on the list? 

RS: Last one. All right. This probably the most controversial one. You can punch holes on my argument for this one more than anything else, Tess. A little giant ladder.

Tessa: Yeah. Okay. So it’s a multipurpose ladder for anyone that doesn’t know. It’s got all these various settings where you can make it short, make it tall, make it do uneven, whatever you call it. Uneven foot height. So you can work on a stair staircase or something.

RS: Yep.

Tessa: All of that is nice. So it’s, again, if you’re someone who just wants one ladder that can get the job done, I see why you got this on your list. But it’s heavy and it’s bulky and it’s a little awkward. And so it takes some getting used to. And if you’re someone who’s not comfortable or maybe can’t carry a ladder that’s that heavy, then I would say get something that’s a little bit more, something that’s easier to move around that’s lighter and a little more user friendly.

RS: Okay. All right. I’ll comment on that. So if you are gonna do that, I’d say a substitute would be maybe getting two different ladders, probably. One would be an A frame ladder.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Maybe get a lighter fiberglass.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: A Frame ladder that goes up six feet.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: I’ve got an eight foot one, and I’ll tell you eight feet. It doesn’t sound that high, but it’s…

Tessa: It’s too tall. Yeah.

RS: It’s so tall.

Tessa: It’s hard to move around too, I think.

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: If we’re talking about for someone that needs something lighter six foot is good enough.

RS: Yeah. Yeah. Nice light. Six foot A frame ladder. And then you also need a ladder to get on your roof. For one storey up, clean your gutters, hop onto the roof to clean your dryer exhaust, do whatever. Get the branches off your roof, whatever. If you’re a homeowner, you need access one storey up. And I’d say you could get a very small extension ladder, but before I did that, I’d probably get one of the ladders that you got. Tess one of those extended climb ladders.

Tessa: Yeah. I love that ladder. And I know we’ve, I’ve talked about it a lot on this podcast, but it is so lightweight and it’s collapsible, so it can fit in the, like, the backseat of your car. And it’s really easy to just extend, climb up, and then you can even ladder hop from a lower roof to a higher roof with it. So it’s, I think it’s multipurpose as well. That’s what I use every day, doing inspections to get into attics. And it was just so much easier to carry that ladder up and down stairs, I thought. And to get into closets in small spaces.

RS: Those are nice ladders. I’m with you. I just find the little giant a little bit, you got a few more uses with the little giant. And to address the part about being a, about it being bulky, I’ve got a great video I recorded her of, my daughter Lucy, she’s, well, I recorded it when she was 11, where I’ve got her taking the ladder, carrying it. She sets it down, she unfolds it, she extends it up into the A frame, and then she puts it back together like nobody’s business. And so my thing is, if I got my 11 year old daughter doing this and making it look effortless, I think just about any adult can manage. What do you think? 

Tessa: I think Lucy’s an exceptional kid and [chuckle], and so that’s pretty awesome. I also am wondering, how early did you start training Lucy on that ladder? Like as soon as she could walk.

RS: Never did anything. We did during the Structure Tech Company picnic, we did a little ladder Olympics where it was, we did like a punt passing kick type of competition for home inspectors. And one of the things you had to do was unfold your ladder and put it back together. And she was watching us all do it, and she just got obsessed. So she spent like an hour at the picnic practicing how to…

Tessa: Oh my God.

RS: Fold it and unfold it.

Tessa: Oh my gosh.

RS: And she got it down. I mean, she nailed it.

Tessa: Is she gonna compete next summer? 

RS: I think she should.

Tessa: I do too.

RS: She definitely would’ve beat some of the inspectors on our team.

Tessa: For sure. For sure.

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: Wow.

RS: And she was good at it.

Tessa: Well I do, I agree. Little giant can do a lot of different things. It’s very versatile. But you you have to be strong. You have to be capable. And it takes a little bit of practice, but once you…

RS: Yeah.

Tessa: Once you cross that barrier, then it’s a great ladder.

RS: But to your point for space savings though, extend and climbs take up hardly any space.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: And they will get you in just about every place a little giant will get you to.

Tessa: Yes.

RS: What do those cost? Do you know? 

Tessa: Oh my gosh. I think, I mean, this was probably, this is pre pandemic pricing, I wanna say like 150 bucks. I mean, I’m gonna say that they’re probably close to 200 now, but I haven’t looked recently.

RS: Okay.

Tessa: They’re not cheap.

RS: That’s pretty comparable.

Tessa: Yeah. They’re not cheap.

RS: Comparable to a little giant.

Tessa: They’re probably the most… This is the most expensive thing on the tool list for sure. A ladder.

RS: Probably so. Probably so.

Tessa: Or maybe a drill. Eh, how much are the… How much are drills these days? 

RS: You can get away with an inexpensive drill. I mean, Milwaukee, if you just buy the drill without batteries. And the thing is, once you’re in the batteries, you can get all the different tools that take that battery line.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: You could get an impact driver for probably 50 bucks. I bet. Maybe 75.

Tessa: Yeah. I think a lot of times they sell it as a package deal, a drill, and an impact driver together. And it’s cheaper to do that if you don’t have any tools, you could just buy that kit.

RS: Sure. Yeah.

Tessa: It comes with the batteries and the chargers and stuff too, but. Well I think this was a well thought out list, Ruben.

RS: Well, thank you, Tess. I’m glad you weren’t able to punch too many holes in it. You got a few, but I was able to convince you on most of them.

Tessa: Yeah, you were. And yeah, for anybody listening, I, it’s it can be a little bit overwhelming if you don’t have any tools or where to start, but you just keep picking away at it, add one thing at a time, and it’s manageable. You may not have a drill in every room, or multiple bits in every corner of your house like Ruben, but you don’t need all of that. You can get by with minimal.

RS: Yeah. It’ll come with time. [laughter] All right, cool. And if you wanna see the printed list, you can check out our blog. You go to, and right on the homepage at the top, you can see a link that says blog. We will put a link to that particular blog post in the show notes for this show.

Tessa: That’s great.

RS: And I also made a video just going over it, and I hold up a lot of these different tools in my video, so you can see me talking about them similarly there, but I don’t have anybody arguing with me in that one.

Tessa: You’re welcome, [chuckle]

RS: Well, I appreciate it. We need an opposing viewpoint.


Tessa: Oh, that’s great.

RS: All right. Well thanks for helping out today, Tess. Always good to see you.

Tessa: Yeah.

RS: Good reflection.

Tessa: Yes. This was really fun. Thanks for listening everybody, and we’ll catch you next week.

RS: Take care.