5 Tools & Pieces of Equipment Crucial For Major Renovations

by | BiggerPockets.com

Are you looking to renovate your home or flip a new property investment? Well, whenever you take on a major renovation or rehab, the speed of the project depends on three things. First, you need a bit of luck. You never know what’s hidden behind walls and underneath floors. Encountering an unforeseen issue can set you back weeks. Second, you need the right people with adequate experience. Third, you need the right equipment. Unfortunately, so many DIYers forget this final piece of the puzzle.

Even the most talented renovators and designers are powerless without the appropriate tools. A lack of equipment either prevents you from completing the projects on your to-do list or forces you to take chances and potentially make dangerous mistakes along the way. If you’re planning on a major renovation anytime soon, it’s pertinent that you have the right tools and equipment on your side. It will accelerate the process and ensure everyone stays safe.

5 Tools & Pieces of Equipment Crucial For Major Renovations

While everyone has their own preferred tools for specific jobs, the following common items should be on every renovator or amateur contractor’s job site.

Circular Saw

A favorite among DIYers and renovators alike, the circular saw is a versatile tool with the power to easily cut through multiple boards. The beauty of this tool is that it’s handheld and portable, allowing you to cut boards, molding, or just about anything else without having to go continually move around the job site.

Circular Saw

Related: 9 Steps to Follow When Tackling a Large Rehab Project

Compound Miter Saw

While the circular saw may be portable, the compound miter saw is much more accurate and powerful. It’s usually installed into a permanent workstation and gives the user incredibly precise, clean cuts. Most miter saws can cut through a wide range of 2x4s, crown molding, and even 4x4s. The most flexible aspect of the compound miter saw is that it can cut at multiple angles with very little effort. Whether you need a 90-degree cut, miter angle, or bevel cut, it’s as simple as rotating the saw blade and locking it into place.

Cordless Drill

It’s virtually impossible to get any major job done without a cordless drill. And before you try to argue that a corded power drill is more powerful, consider convenience and practicality. Many job sites either don’t yet have power or have limited access to outlets. This either limits your usage of the power drill or necessitates the usage of long, cumbersome extension chords. The choice is yours, but most opt for the slightly more expensive cordless option.


When gutting a house or taking on major renovations, you’re going to have lots of trash, scraps, and waste. Sure, you can deal with most of this on your own, but you should never attempt to handle substances that you’re unsure about. If you run across potentially hazardous materials—such as asbestos, lead paint, or unknown liquids—and are unsure of how to proceed, it’s best to have professional contractors come out and take a look. They’ve been trained to handle these issues and have the right equipment and tools to deal with chemicals, liquids, and harmful wastes.

Related: Confessions of a Rehabber: Expert Tips for Profitable, Rentable Properties


Gloves and Eyewear

Nothing holds back a project like unforeseen injuries. While it’s easy to get in a rhythm and feel comfortable with the tools you’re using, safety equipment is always needed. Proper gloves and eyewear should be worn at all times. If you have people working on your job, it’s your duty to make sure they have access to the right equipment, too. If not, it could become a liability on your end.

Remember to Be Safe

Of course, if you don’t know how to properly use any of these tools and equipment, you should proceed with caution. Sometimes using the right piece of equipment in the wrong way is more dangerous and damaging than not having access to it at all. However, when properly wielded, these tools can help you get the job done in a fraction of the time.

DIYers: What would you add to this list?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Larry Alton

Larry is an independent, full-time writer and consultant. His writing covers a broad range of topics including business, investment and technology. His contributions include Entrepreneur Media, TechCrunch, and Inc.com. When he is not writing, Larry assists both entrepreneurs and mid-market businesses in optimizing strategies for growth, cost cutting, and operational optimization. As an avid real estate investor, Larry cut his teeth in the early 2000s buying land and small single family properties. He has since acquired and flipped over 30 parcels and small homes across the United States. While Larry’s real estate investing experience is a side passion, he will affirm his experience and know-how in real estate investing is derived more from his failures than his successes.


  1. Mindy Jensen

    The Compound Miter Saw is my best rehabbing friend!

    I also get a TON of use out of my table saw, although in a pinch that circular saw can do the job. I found a metal guide at a garage sale that I love to use with my circular saw. Helps me make a nice, straight cut.

    I have to say, my air compressor and nail guns save me so much time as well. I just finished framing my daughter’s playhouse, and those walls went up in a heartbeat, compared to swinging that hammer.

    A toolbelt, tape measure and level round out my top tools.

    I like the cordless drill/other power tool combinations they are selling at Home Depot and Lowe’s right now. You get the extra power tool – like a circular saw or reciprocating saw, plus 2 batteries and a charger all for slightly more than it costs for one cordless drill, battery and charger. The savings comes in the form of the extra battery, whether you need the additional tool or not. The batteries are super expensive, so having the extra battery for the cordless drill is worth it.

    A cordless circular saw is a fantastic invention. Mine has a cord, and that cord is taped where I ran over it with the saw. I didn’t cut all the way through it, but still… The cordless version of that is a no-brainer.

  2. wesley c.

    I second the air compressor and nail gun as an essential. You can really dress a place up with the aid of a nail gun. Whether dressing up some older stock cabinets, to baseboards and crown, or fireplace mantles, I just don’t think a rehabber can do without a nail gun. For about $150 you can get a small compressor tank and a gun. I actually don’t usually pack a circular saw but use my portable compound miter for most cuts. I use it both for angles and chopping. If I need longer cuts such as plywood I just have them do it at the home improvement store because its free and much more accurate than I can do myself and it takes about a minute and leaves me with no cleanup. One tool that I thought I’d use more is a reciprocating saw. I just hardly ever use it. Maybe that’s because I mostly do cosmetic fixes and don’t remove a lot of walls or add doors. Good article and good info for those building their tool arsenal.

  3. Greg Widdicombe

    Absolutely agree with the nail gun/compressor and in particular, a pin nailer is an excellent addition. Pin nailers allow you to do things like tack molding in place or door/window frames together with extremely thin headless pins, which often don’t even need any putty to cover up in molding, and are completely covered with paint.

    Second critical tool is a laser level (the kind that projects a laser cross) – makes doing kitchen cabinet installs and door frames a snap.

  4. mike waller

    A few other items that make life easier. As a building contractor/remodeler I use these innumerable times a day depending on the stage of the job:

    A reciprocating saw (this is a must) You can cut anything, and I do mean anything, with a reciprocating saw from cast iron pipes to nail embedded wood to trimming tree branches.
    A pry bar for demo of all sorts
    A scraper (or a 5-in-1)
    A good tape measure – not the cheapy kind
    A good level (4′ is standard but a 2′ and a 6′ are great as well)
    A voltage tester: the kind you hold by a plug or outlet to see if there is any power on the circuit. This can save your life because you never know what previous owners and/or electricians have done to the wiring.
    A good quality 12 amp rated extension cord at least 50′ in length
    And if you are going to get a circular saw, get one with as many amps as you can afford (15 amps is best), no point in being cheap.


  5. Darren Sager

    Those are all very important Larry however I would say first on my list is a measuring tape, a very good claw hammer, eye protection, hard hat, heavy duty gloves, and boots that can hopefully resist a nail going through the bottom of them! Safety first, always in my book (after going to the hospital 2X for construction related injuries). Although every tool you mentioned is important, I can’t go on a job site that I’m personally going to do work on without those items! Oh, and my tool belt of course!

  6. Thanks for the tips. Me and my sister have been planning on doing some renovations and improvements in some parts of our home but we have little time to work on it. Power tools will really help a lot. And thanks for the suggestion about the air compressor thingy, comment section. I’ll probably get one but what’s a good compressor? gas powered or electric powered air compressors?

    • mike waller

      Sandy, a lot depends on what time of renovations you are going to do and how often you will use the compressor. An electric compressor in answer to your question. A decent one for general DIY folks is a Porter Cable pancake compressor sold at the big box stores. This will power any gun you might need and if you don’t have a trim gun, you can often buy this compressor in a kit that includes a trim nailer, or even three.

      Again, the compressor you get depends on what you plan to do, but unless you need to power three roofing nailers or two framers at once, this is a decent little compressor. Other brands make a very similar product.

      Electric assumes you will have a source of power at the house.


  7. Kathleen Leary

    All of the above – use all my power saws (including recip – love to cut out walls!); ditto my framing & pin nailers. Depending on your skills & ambition, I’d add some drywall tools: giant box of drywall screws, big ol’ drywall T-square, good utility knife, drywall rasp, mud pan, mesh & paper joint tape, assorted things to spread mud with (seems like everybody has a favorite), sanders/sandpaper of all sorts, extension poles, stilts/ladders, dust masks & texturing tools/sprayers as desired. NOT everybody needs this stuff, but I seem to have developed a knack for repairing & replacing drywall, so I do use it a lot. At the very least, I’d be sure & have what you need to patch up small holes, etc. I’ve had to go back in after “professionals” & re-do their piss-poor efforts on several occasions; when you see me coming with that mud pan, look out!

Leave A Reply

Pair a profile with your post!

Create a Free Account


Log In Here