Essential Items for a New Home
A Small Portable Tool Kit
Many years ago, when we first set up home, if a small job needed doing, I would find myself invariably spending more time in the shed or in cupboards looking for the right tools to carry out fairly simple tasks. After a couple of years, found that keeping a small pre-packed toolkit, with usually a screwdriver (with multiple removable heads), pliers (long and short) and a selection of "watchmakers" screwdrivers should be sufficient to carry out at least 80% of small jobs around the home. These little kits can be picked up relatively cheaply in supermarkets or discount stores. If you're in the UK, discount chains such as Aldi & Lidl often stock these small kits and as my old mini toolkit was getting a bit tired and my main hammer broke, recently picked up the above in Lidl for about £8 recently! Otherwise usual online stockists such as Amazon will no doubt have similar
Battery Tester - The Ultimate Time Saver!
Once children become part of the family, you will undoubtedly contribute a sizable portion of your income on batteries! Most toys these days seem to demand batteries, along with games consoles! Yes, there are rechargeable batteries and wired controllers, we've tried them all, but apparently they aren't quite as good as Energizer or Duracell! Usually when you do keep a box of spare batteries, sometimes there is a tendency for certain members of the family to throw spent batteries back into the box and I used to waste lots of putting batteries in a torch or toy, only to find them already half used up, or completely dead! A few years back, I picked up a cheap battery tester and it's one of the most useful tools in the house! These can be picked up for around £3/$4 on eBay or Amazon and standard tester usually has the capacity to measure all different battery sizes.
We've found it's a good idea to keep a sealed* box and to buy particularly AA batteries in bulk of eBay, where you can usually order 30-50 at a time for around £9-£15/$12-$19, which is much cheaper than in the supermarkets , which in the UK, charge roughly around £1 each! Also worth noting that cheap batteries are a false economy and have been proven to be poor value compared to more well known brands, you can usually tell the difference in weight. Also worth mentioning that the small lithium "Button" batteries, such as the CRxxxx type batteries should always be kept away from small children, as there have been increasing cases of children accidentally swallowing them and they can cause life changing injury within a couple of hours. One final note is for the sake of the environment, it is really a good idea to always recycle batteries, in some countries/and or states, it is sometimes a legal requirement.
Headtorch - Jobs are easier with both hands free
I've lost count of the number of torches I have owned over the years. Again, a cheapish torch, unless you're lucky, is unlikely to last very long and so it's worth investing a bit extra cash for something sturdy that's going to endure and last a while, something in the £15-£20/$20-$25 price bracket should be the minimum really, maybe a bit more if you can afford it .
I've also come to the conclusion that for many scenarios around the home, a headtorch is superior to a hand held torch, as it obviously frees up you hands to carry out those all-important jobs that you often find yourself out in the dark at 10pm (such as sorting the recycling , or trying to find the emergency stopcock!). Mine's due an upgrade/replacement soon but it's served me well! Brands such as Petzl and Coleman are well regarded, although many of their models are high end, they do some very good budget models as wells
Superglue - Industrial Strength
Hardly a week goes by went there isn't a small accumulated pile of toys or ornaments in the kitchen corner that require a minor repair! There are fewer more useful items in the repair cupboard (or somewhere else up high, well out of reach of small prying eyes and/or hands!) than Superglue! Experience has taught me that it's wise to invest in a large bottle, rather than fiddly little tubes. Countless toys have been rescued and almost seamlessly repaired thanks to this wonderful liquid, although I do have a rule that if you find yourself repairing the same item, as the same point for a second or even a third time, then in all likely-hood, it will fail again and is beyond repair. Finally, and I feel a bit foolish even saying this, but treat superglue with up most caution, always repair on a covered surface and use very sparingly and avoid skin contact (I think most of us have had that second where we've accidentally come into contact and bonded with this stuff!) All I'm saying is be careful!!).
A Box of Light Bulbs - A bright idea
Similar to batteries, you can never have too many spare lightbulbs. Even the newer LED bulbs, as expensive as they are in comparison to the older halogen or incandescent, have a limited life and they will normally blow when the shops aren't open, so it's wise to stock up, buy them cheaper when you can, or in bulk on line and keep a ready store for that awkward time of night when you need them most.
It's an unfortunate fact that many properties suffer from mould issues, even brand new, new-builds and unless your house has somehow hermetically sealed and you undergo a full decontamination on entry, it will have mould spores, however it's when the conditions are right, these spores can develop and mould growth can become a problem. We have lived in a number of rental properties in the past and found mould to be an issue, even with relatively modern homes, having tried a number of products for treatment, many by well known brands, the best have found so far is "HG Mould Spray". When I last checked, it was available in the UK at Homebase, but believe you can also purchase online. The big advantage with this product is that not only clears the mould, but prevents it returning. As per the recommendations, this stuff is pretty potent, so skin and eye protection is essential and also air the room after treatment.
Mould is usually as a result of structural issues, such as ventilation or from lifestyle contribution, such as drying clothes indoors. In certain weather climates, such as here in the UK, often there isn't the luxury of drying clothes outdoors and sometimes not the facilities for machine drying, so the problem can become endemic. When mould issues do arise, it's usually wise to try and determine the root cause, not always easy though, but this could be substandard roofing, blocked guttering, faulty or sealed double glazing or ventilation, resulting in condensation. The rise in recent years of cavity wall insulation, particularly in older properties, has often been considered a factor also. As well as being unsightly, there are also health issues connected to mould and therefore it is always wise to try and tackle the problem as it it unlikely to go away on it's own. If you are in a private rented property, there is an onus is on the landlord to provide the property in a fit state for living in, ensuring such essentials as heating, water etc are all functioning, but this should also include damp and mould issue. Any issues should be taken up initially with your landlord and in most cases, they should seek to resolve and with the growing rental market and the increasingly prohibitive costs for buying properties in the UK, there are steps being made to make all buy-to-let landlords become members of the "Housing Complaints Resolution Service" scheme, which should hopefully encourage any complaints to be taken seriously, under the threat of fines, along with other regulations to protect long term tenants
Sink Plunger/Drain Unblocker
There will no doubt come a time, usually at the most inconvenient, when a sink will become blocked. Soap, hair and other "waste" products can quickly block narrow pipes and keeping one of these will prove invaluable at some point and should cost no more than £3-£4/$4-$6 from a hardware store/supermarket and is far cheaper than calling a plumber out! If the plunger fails to clear the obstruction after a couple of attempts, there are commercial liquids than can be purchased, (although not I'd imagine particularly environmentally friendly!), although if all else fails, you may have to call in the plumber after all!
It's been recognised for a long time that plant life is essential to continued human existence, in that they produce oxygen, as well as food , but it wasn't until the late 1980's, when NASA commissioned a study to investigate the benefits of plant use in space and they discovered that they are incredibly efficient air filters, capable of filtering out chemicals that are dangerous to humans, such as benzene (used in detergents, polish, paint) ,formaldehyde (used in air fresheners, cleaning products etc) Xylene (tobacco, car exhausts) & ammonia (window cleaners, floor waxes). Certain plants can also absorb and reduce the level of mould spores. Some caution and research should be undertaken, particularly if you have pets, as useful as these plants are, many are toxic to animals, if ingested.
The study found that the some of most efficient plants are ;
Peace Lilly ( Spathiphyllum)- Particularly efficient in Bathroom , this attractive plant can reduce mildew and is excellent at oxygen production and pretty much came out top of the list at Nasa! Not so good for households with pets
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) - Very easy to grow and requiring little maintenance, one of the best purifiers and pet friendly too.
Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) - Probably best all-rounder, as not only one of the best purifiers, but also is perhaps one of the most attractive, with an abundance of flowers, although sadly, not very pet friendly.
Aloe Vera - Regarded by many as a "wonder plant" thanks to it's multitude of health benefits, it is also very good at air purifying. Similar to most though, not good for pets.
Snake Plant/Viper's Bowstring Hemp - Also , slightly cruelly, referred to as Mother-In-Law's tongue, this hardy evergreen is incredibly easy to look after, requiring very little maintenance and can thrive in low light levels and low watering, but are one of the best for air cleaning. Again, as before, caution with animals.
So that's a short list of great house plants, there are many more, easily found be searching for the "Nasa clean air study", for more alternatives
Good Luck in your New Home!
So that's my take on my "essential" home items. Some may feel some of these are glaringly obvious, maybe some not so much and maybe I've missed a few things others couldn't live without. Of course there are additional powertools that are useful and make life easier, but I'm not sure I would class them as essential. I hope you find some of this useful and welcome any comments or further advise. Thank You and Good Luck!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Kieran Clarke