You just bought a house ‒ congratulations!
Now, it’s time to make sure you’re equipping it with the right “things.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to pick out new furniture, cookware and fluffy towels (whether you bought them yourself or were gifted them courtesy of your wedding registry). But when you step into the responsibility of owning a house, you realize how much stuff it actually takes to make a house a home.
To help, we’ve come up with a list of 37 tried-and-true items that are essential to every new home.
- Smoke alarms: Install one in each bedroom, outside the areas that you sleep and on every level of your home ‒ especially your basement. Even if your house already has them, it’s a good idea to get new ones. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) advises replacing smoke alarms when they’re 10 years old. To make sure your house is even more prepared, read The “Smart” Way to Ensure Fire Safety.
- Carbon monoxide alarms: Much like smoke alarms, these should be installed on every level of your home, especially in areas close to where you sleep.
- Fire extinguishers: Experts like the NFPA recommend having a fire extinguisher on each floor. Place yours near an exit, in an easy-to-grab spot. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Fire Extinguishers to learn more.
- Safety ladder: If you own a two-story home, invest in a safety ladder in case anyone needs to make a quick exit during a fire. There are a variety on the market, including those that can fold up and be stowed away near a window.
- First aid kit: Have a well-rounded stockpile of bandages, antibacterial ointment, antiseptic wipes and more. To build yours, the American Red Cross has a list of essential items that should be in a kit for a family of four.
- Emergency kit: Small inconveniences like power outages to major weather disasters can happen wherever you live. Be prepared and create your own emergency kit using these 31 must-have items.
- New locks: When you get the keys to your new home, make sure you swap them out along with the locks ‒ immediately. You never know who still might have keys to the old ones. Read A Homeowner’s Guide to Door Locks to find the right fit for your new abode.
- Motion-sensor lights: With motion sensors, your lights will act as an alarm that attracts attention to the area if there’s an intrusion. They’re relatively cheap and easy to install yourself.
- Home safe: Invest in a fireproof and waterproof safe that you can discreetly stow away to protect your valuables ‒ and valuable documents. Learn more in our related article, How to Safely Store Your Stuff.
- Window treatments: Keep your windows looking stylish on the inside yet safe on the outside by purchasing and installing blinds (especially in your first-floor windows). If you have windows in your garage, tint them so intruders can’t see if you’re home or away. You can purchase privacy film at almost any major tool store.
- Video doorbell: More affordable than most security cameras, these easy-to-install gadgets provide on-demand video, a live view of your front porch and motion detection alerts sent straight to your smartphone.
- Ladder: Whether you’re changing a light bulb or cleaning your gutters, a ladder is often needed to bring your project within reach. Here’s how you can pick out the right ladder ‒ and use it safely.
- Stepstool: This comes in handy when you don’t want (or need) to lug out the big ladder ‒ whether you’re painting or reaching those high shelves in your pantry.
- Buckets: Boring, perhaps. Useful, most definitely! Purchase a few to use indoors and out.
- Glue: You’ll be glad to have some multi-purpose, wood or superglue on hand after your kid knocks over a vase or a wooden cabinet door starts to split.
- Shop vac: From cleaning out your car to sucking up water after a leak, a shop vac can be the unsung workhorse of your household.
- Microfiber cloths: They’re about as exciting as buckets ‒ but just as important. These cloths are ideal for any indoor or outdoor cleaning job you need to tackle.
- Tape: From painter’s tape to electrical tape to the ever-lauded duct tape, keeping a few rolls on hand can help out when you’re in a pinch.
- Tool box: Invest in a solid, sturdy tool box ‒ along with all the important basics: hammer, screwdrivers (both Phillips and flat head), tape measure, level, wrenches, pliers, utility knife, safety glasses, screws and nails. A power drill also can be a worthwhile investment.
- Portable lights: Flashlights, headlamps, battery-powered lanterns. Whether you need to check under a sink or are in the middle of a power outage, these are a must for any home.
- Extension cords: You’ll find these come in handy for indoor and outdoor projects alike. Just make sure you’re using extension cords properly. They shouldn’t be used in place of permanent wiring.
- Vacuum: Choose one that’s designed to handle the flooring in your home. If you want to splurge on a robot vacuum, go for it! Just bear in mind you’ll still probably need a standard vacuum for deep cleaning.
- Mop: If you have a home with hardwood floors, a dust mop will be your best friend. And if you don’t feel like scrubbing your kitchen or bathroom floors on your hands and knees every week, a traditional mop (or two) will be a welcome tool.
- Plunger: This goes without saying. One for each bathroom is a must.
- Broom and dustpan: Get ones that are sturdy and built to last.
- Air purifier: Reduce the allergens and pollutants in your air. There are a variety of makes, models and sizes of air purifiers to choose from. To give them an extra hand, put your green thumb to good use and bring home a few houseplants. Here’s how to pick the perfect houseplant.
- Cleaning kit: Think of it as your domestic toolbox. To build a basic cleaning kit, interior design website Apartment Therapy recommends including an all-purpose cleaner, disinfecting wipes, window cleaner, a multi-purpose scrub brush, a detail brush (your average toothbrush works here) and a hand duster. Don’t forget the toilet bowl cleaner and brush. And pick up a big box of baking soda. You can use it to scour sinks, clean grout and get rid of unwelcome smells.
- Pencil sharpener: And no, we don’t mean one of those tiny plastic ones that can’t even sharpen a golf pencil. Purchase an electric tabletop sharpener or go old school and get one like you used to have in your elementary classroom (pencil shavings and all).
- Dehumidifier: Take the stuffiness or other unwanted moisture out of the air in your home. You can use a dehumidifier in basements, living areas and more.
- Batteries: Take an inventory of all the essential items you use that need batteries and build a stockpile. While they aren’t always the cheapest, you’ll save yourself many inconvenient trips to the store ‒ like when a smoke alarm battery needs replaced at 2 a.m. (Pro tip: Pick a specific place to organize all your batteries so you aren’t searching through the junk drawer every time.)
- Power strips: They’re convenient when you’re trying to plug multiple devices into one power source, safer than an extension cord and able to help cut your energy bill. Power strips are your friend to help attack “energy vampires” like coffee makers and other household appliances. Just leave them plugged in but switch off the power strip when they’re not in use. Read more in our guide to electrical safety at home.
- Lawn equipment: Whether you’re living on a small lot or multiple acres, you’ll need the right tools to maintain your landscape. Invest in a lawnmower and gas can (and take care of your mower to keep it running for the long haul), weed trimmer and rake. A leaf blower can come in handy to manage grass clipping or leaves (check out the proper way to use and maintain a leaf blower). If you prefer to take care of your own bushes, hedge trimmers also can be a good idea. All of these can add up to a big investment, so make sure you organize your garage and safely stow them away.
- Shovels: All shovels are not created equal. There are designs with short and long handles, different blade shapes and more. So whether you plan on digging any trenches or working in your garden, make sure you have the right shovel(s) for the task. But there’s one type that just about everyone should own: a snow shovel.
- Hose: Choose one that gives you the length you need. Don’t forget to grab a nozzle—and have a game plan for stowing it away (some like to wrap it up and keep it in their sheds, others use reels or storage boxes). But whatever you do, don’t leave it out during freezing temperatures!
- Watering can: When you don’t need (or want) to unravel your hose, a watering can is a great sidekick for those smaller landscaping projects.
- Door mats: Keep as much dirt and grime outside ‒ and add a welcoming feel to any entranceway.
- Snowblower: When winter sweeps in with a mega storm, a snowblower can be a saving grace. (And don’t forget the ice melt and salt!) While you still have to go outside, a snow blower spares you from the back-straining labor of shoveling. Here’s what you need to know before buying and owning a snowblower.
Take a Home Inventory
Final pro tip: Take a home inventory by creating a list of all your personal possessions, along with their estimated value. If you ever have to file a homeowners insurance claim after a fire or major disaster, you’ll be glad that you have one ready to go.
Not sure where to start? Read our related blog: What’s a Home Inventory, and Why Do I Need One?
Protect Your Investment with Homeowners Insurance
Your home is often the biggest investment you’ll make in your lifetime. That’s why it matters to protect it with homeowners insurance you can trust. Your local ERIE agent can explain your options to customize your coverage, including guaranteed replacement cost. Contact your local ERIE agent to get a free homeowners insurance quote.