Setting up a short term rental property for the first time can be a daunting task. From selecting furniture to hanging pictures, every detail matters when creating an inviting space for your guests. But fear not because we have been there, done that, and learned a lot along the way.
With dozens of property setups under our belt, we have created a sort of “set up toolbox” – a small collection of tools and supplies that we always keep on hand to make the process smoother and more efficient. Whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned host, we’re excited to share our must-have tools with you today.
Steven tends to get into more of the bigger, handyman-type projects during the setup process and I’m more focused on design, organization and details. So between the two of us you should have a pretty good starting list. Ready? Let’s get into it.
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My first must have is my power tools. There are tons of options when it comes to power tools but I really like the Ryobi HP line. I have a lot of corded tools and about two years ago (when we took on the renovation project of our primary residence) I decided to go cordless for most things.
The Ryobi ecosystem was hard to ignore. They have tools of every type and I find their prices reasonable and the warranty support to be good. Most of my tools are from the “HP” line with the additional power of brushless motors.
This drill is my go to. It has plenty of power and the hammer function makes it easy to sink anchors into stucco, which is common here in Southern California.
Kylee has her own tool set, just a basic tool set, that she keeps in her car for property rounds.
I also have a favorite specialty screwdriver – this multi handle screwdriver. I sought this tool out because it has an ECX bit.
I do a fair bit of electrical work and the ECX bit is a combo between square and slotted screws which are common on outlets, switches and breakers. ECX fits into place quickly driving these fasteners and you can apply lots of torque.
So you get the ECX bit with this screwdriver, but then you also get 8 other drive types so it’s a nice all in one driver tool to carry around. I also like that to change the bits, you have to use the one you had removed to push out the new one, so you never lose your bits.
My next pick is for hanging things. Kylee does a lot of the small easy stuff on her own with the monkey hooks (see below) but sometimes you need a little more holding power and that’s when I’ll come in with these drywall anchors – they’re the Toggler SnapSkru self drilling drywall anchors.
This brand in particular is my go-to and is key for heavier decor pieces or for things like toilet paper roll holders. They’re strong and super quick to install. I will note that if you have an existing toilet paper holder that’s been ripped out, then you’ll need to switch to a toggle bolt.
My next pick is my Stud Buddy.
I’ve had electronic stud finders and those are alright but you can’t beat the simplicity of the Stud Buddy.
All drywall has steel fasteners, either nails or screws, in it to secure it to wall studs. The Stud Buddy has magnets and if you pass it over the wall and it sticks, that’s a fastener under the surface. You can then run the tool a bit higher up the wall to confirm it’s a full length stud and not something else, like a piece of blocking.
It’s small, easy to carry anywhere and no batteries required.
My next pick is this Knipex cobra pliers wrench
This wrench will grab onto anything. They’re more expensive than a standard wrench, but indispensable.
I first learned about Knipex when we were in Germany as these are made in Germany. Compared to a normal set of Channel lock pliers, these are in a different league of adjustability and gripping power.
This wrench will turn hex head bolts of any size and the level of adjustment is awesome. I also use them to turn drain pipe fittings that are hard to grip, and they’ll even grip screw heads that are stripped and need to be removed.
And last but not least, I always bring these Wago wire connectors which are my go to for electrical projects like hanging new light fixtures. I first heard of these on another YouTube channel, Everyday Home Repairs (which is a great Chanel btw!).
Traditional Wire nuts work if you pay close attention to positioning and twisting the wire and and do pull tests after installing them but there is a lot of margin for error, especially with stranded wire, which is common in light fixtures these days.
The Wago connectors handle a wide range of wire sizes and the clear body is easy to see that your wires are fully inserted. Most importantly, they clamp well onto stranded wire. These are a must have in your setup tool box!
My first pick is my electric screwdriver. I say it’s mine but I actually bought this for Steven and it’s slowly become mine. He’s fine using his Ryobi drill for furniture assembly, but I find that to be too heavy.
I also sometimes have issues with my wrist so cranking a regular screwdriver can be problematic when we’re doing a whole house setup and assembling a lot of furniture or changing out a bunch of cabinet knobs in a kitchen. So we – or I – have been using this one from Worx for the past few years now and it’s great. I also can use bit adapters I need an to tighten allen head bolts.
Next up for me are two items that make hanging wall art quick and painless.
Monkey hooks were introduced to us by a client. He had used them in his house and they’re pretty genius. You just poke them in the wall and you don’t need a wall anchor.
And then these canvas hangers are great if you have a wood framed, canvas wrapped wall art. I’ve hung a huge piece by myself in like 3 minutes using these and a level. Or not, if you want to live on the edge. But you should probably use a level.
My next pick is something that you never think about needing until you really need it – Goo Gone.
When we’re setting up a short term rental property, we’re removing a lot of price tags, stickers and those can be a pain to scrape off. So we keep a little bottle in the tool kit just in case.
Next for me is my battery case. We each have one of these and we use them during setups and we also keep them in our car for property inspections.
You can buy a range of sizes and we always make sure to have plenty of aa, aaa, and 9v for garage door keypads.