Essential tools for your handyman business and how to get them cheap

Congratulations on your decision to enter an industry that will allow you to set your own hours, work with your hands and improve people’s lives every day. Whether you’ve decided to pursue work as a handyman full-time or as a side hustle, you’re in for an educational, dynamic and rewarding experience.

Basic tools to get you started

As a new handyman you’ll soon begin landing clients and starting jobs, so it’s important to be prepared. You may have some tools on hand at home. You might even be exceptional at using them. However, if they aren’t professional/industry grade tools, they probably aren’t appropriate for paid gigs over the long haul. 

So do you need to go out and purchase thousands of dollars worth of tools before you begin? Nope.  Experts suggest that you put together a basic set that you take on each job for now. As your business grows and you encounter jobs that require a new tool, you can build up your toolbox.

Take a look at our recommendations for your most basic handyman starter kit below. 

This compilation is what Nathan Riddle, a Utah-based handyman, likes to call his “grabbag” and accompanying tool “arsenal.”

  • Locking tool box
  • Hammer
  • Cordless drill
  • Screwdrivers
  • Tape measure
  • Cordless circular saw
  • A 20′ extension ladder
  • Clamps – Often considered the most versatile and cost effective clamp, the C-clamp is used for both steel and wood. Make sure to grab multiple sizes. 
  • Pliers
  • Wrench
  • Level
  • Utility knife
  • An assortment of sizes of screws and nails
  • Safety equipment including a hard hat, safety goggles, gloves and a dust mask
  • Electrical tester
  • Reciprocating saw

Leveling up

Once you have stocked all the basics and gained some experience, you may find you want more advanced tools to help take your business to the next level. Consider the following as you perfect your handyman arsenal.

  • Collapsible saw horses
  • A ten inch chop saw
  • Cordless finish nail gun
  • Plunge router
  • A 2650 PSI pressure washer
  • Lawn mower
  • Trimmer
  • Shopvac
  • A 4.5 inch angle grinder
  • Cordless oscillating multi-tool
  • Some four inch and step ladders
  • Post hole digger
  • Sander

Houston-based handyman Gabriel Abad believes attitude is another tool that makes a world of difference in the success of his business as well. 

“Most important thing to always keep in business is professionalism, integrity and honesty with all your customers,” Abad said. “A satisfied customer will always call you back if they ever need anything else done.”

How to get the best for less

Starting a new business is as exhilarating as it is anxiety-inducing. Parts of this next season are also going to require personal financial investment, but the good news is that careful planning can help you cut corners while making sure you’re not settling for less than your new business deserves.

Good tools are expensive. And you will constantly be buying more. A best practice is to get strategic about how and where you purchase your tools as your business grows. We’ve compiled a few ideas for acquiring professional-grade handyman tools without breaking the bank.

Harbor Freight

With 1,000 stores in 48 states and options for mail orders, Harbor Freight Tools is commonly referenced as a discount tool store for amateurs and pros alike. The company touts itself as a store that buy “top quality tools” from the same factories that supply its competitors, noting that they cut out the middleman and use the money they save to cut down on costs for customers.

Houston-based professional handyman Gabriel Abad said he usually buys his tools from Harbor Freight.

“They are affordable, and if anything goes wrong, your warranty will allow you to exchange with no problem,” Abad shared. 

While Kevin Jones, a construction professional in La Mesa, Calif., did suggest Harbor Freight Tools as somewhere to find professional tools at a lower cost, he somewhat disagrees with Abad’s overall assessment. 

“They’re cheap, but they break easily,” he explained. 

With this in mind, you may want to use Harbor Freight for certain tools on your list, but be careful to chase the name brands for others.

Going Vintage

Second-hand tools will almost always be your cheapest finds. In the best of cases, you’ll get access to a great quality tool that will last a long time. In other instances, you can come across some duds. For this reason, if you are going to purchase second-hand tools, you need to know what questions to ask and how to visually evaluate the tool. 

Here are some places/websites you can look to find discount or bid-worthy used tools:

  • Auctions
  • Estate sales
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • eBay
  • Newspapers
  • Pawnshops
  • Search for refurbished or reconditioned tools with a warranty

Questions to ask/ things to consider when shopping for used tools:

  • Detailed photos of the item, including any attached power cords
  • Can I test the item? 
  • Why are you selling it? 
  • How long have you owned this item?/How frequently did you use it?

Rigid Power Tools 

If you purchase your Rigid Power Tools from Home Depot, you are also buying a lifetime warranty. While this may not save you any money when you buy them, never having to purchase one again certainly will have an impact on your finances. Even the batteries have a warranty. Remember to complete all required documentation to enroll in the lifetime warranty, such as mailing in your receipt and registration certificate. 

Try tool rental 

Renting job-specific power tools could save you a lot of cash when you’re starting out. If you don’t anticipate using a tool frequently, renting allows you to complete your handyman gig without throwing away loads of money on a tool you rarely touch. Alternatively, depending on how many brands are offered, renting may be an effective way to make a decision on the specifics of of an item you intend to make an investment in by purchasing.

Use a business cash back credit card

If you use it right, a business cash back credit card with an intro APR of 0% can actually allow you time to make payments and pay off a large purchase before any interest accumulates. At the same time, you will be earning money in cash back rewards. This means, if you believe the best choice for you is to buy the highest quality professional handyman tools, you can. You’ll have plenty of time to make payments on that purchase, and you’ll earn money in cash back rewards! 

For 2019, the Ink Business Cash Credit Card and American Express® Blue Business Cash Card offer a lengthy 0% intro APR and great cash back options. Check out our list of the best business cash back credit cards for more ideas on cards that might work for you.  

The bottom line

New business owners have a lot on their minds. As you navigate the complexities of the business world, make sure that your primary task— providing a quality service— is at the forefront. To make that commitment, you’ll need to know you can count on your tools.

Being budget-minded is essential for any new business owner, but it doesn’t have to mean that you settle for less with your tool bag. Getting creative can help you have the best equipment without breaking your budget.