If you are skilled with your hands and are thinking of striking out on your own as a contractor, there are some things you need to consider.
First, of course, you will need to make sure you comply with all local laws for what you need as far as a license that may be required.
After this, you will have to take a serious look at the tools you will need. Some specific types of contractors may require specialty tools for their particular niche, but below are ten tools that practically any contractor will need to successfully complete their jobs and leave a satisfied customer who refers them to others.
It is always a good idea to have a full selection of wrenches in many different sizes as it is best to use the closest fitting wrench possible to tighten that nut or bolt. However, for those times where you don’t have the right size wrench you need to have an adjustable wrench to be sure you can get the job done.
Cordless Power Drill
Especially if you are doing any kind of woodworking, most of your time will be spent drilling holes in that wood and then screwing screws into them. This process is literally what holds together the work you are doing for your customer, and a cordless model will give you maximum flexibility on the job.
When you’re not holding things together by drilling and screwing, then you’re doing it with hammering nails. You will no doubt be doing both at various points on a given job, so the hammer and plenty of nails of various sizes will be necessary at some point in just about any job you’ll be working on as a contractor. This is probably one of the oldest workman’s tools in history and just as essential today as whenever it was first used.
Socket Wrench Set
You will certainly be loosening or tightening plenty of nuts and bolts in the course of a job, and this will entail having a socket wrench that has sufficient accompanying sockets to cover any size nut or bolt you may encounter. Socket wrench sets typically come with extenders as well to enable you to get into hard to reach places where a regular wrench can not go.
A Circular Saw
Practically any type of contractor job will require something, usually wood, to be cut at some point. This is why you will need a good circular saw. You may also want a straight hand saw on hand for small, quick cuts that may not be worth getting the circular saw out for, but for any quantity of cutting work, a circular saw will be worth its weight in gold for the time and effort it will save you.
For precision workmanship, you will need to be constantly measuring. You’ll need to know how long to cut a given piece of wood with your circular saw to fit in a particular spot or how long a section of piping will need to be. There are too many examples to list of when you’ll need accurate measurements, and this is where your tape measure comes in handy. You will want a 12 or 16 foot one, so it is long enough for nearly any use and one that locks in place when you have it extended to the desired length.
Sometimes you need to know if a certain piece is level or not, and you need to know it with precision that you can not get simply by eyeballing it. This is where a level comes in handy as a basic but absolutely essential tool.
This is more a category of tool than a single one given the different types of pliers and their myriad uses. At a minimum, every contractor will need to have pump, long nose, slip-joint and linesman’s pliers to grasp, twist, and turn nuts, bolts and wires and in the case of linesman’s pliers to cut various wires. Pump pliers are equipped with large enough jaws to grasp a pipe that you have to twist or turn.
Brushes and Rollers
At some point, once all the drilling, sawing and hammering is done, you’re going to need to paint over your project to make it look presentable. I lump brushes and rollers together as they are both used to apply paint with only the size of the area that needs to be painted determining which is best to use for a given spot.
Before you can apply primer and paint with those brushes and rollers you have to get the surface smooth. This is, of course, where sanding comes into the picture. If you have a large area to sand, doing it by hand can be laborious in the extreme. Similar to the labor that a power saw saves over a hand saw, a power sander will also be worth its weight in gold for all the labor it will save you when sanding.
These tools cover the basics, and the specific work you do may require more. They do represent the minimum you will need to competently offer your services as a contractor. There are additional tools that would be handy or speed up your work, but the above tools will get you going until you refine your particular needs from the type of contracting work you do and as your experience tells you what more you may need. Get a good tool belt and tool box to hold all these essentials, and then you can confidently get to work.