What am I talking about? I decided today that I would take care of some minor fix-it problems around the condo. For as long as I've been renting, I have kept a box of things for these sorts of projects. I started calling the box the "Apartment Screw Up Kit" because it contained everything I need to move out of an apartment and leave no indication that I punched a hole in the wall, installed additional wiring, or just generally screwed up the place.
What's in the kit? It varies, but here's what I generally have:
- DAP DryDex Spackling. All purpose wall filler. I also have some wall repair screens for when the holes are a bit too large. Sufficient to fill in a hole where you installed, say, an outlet box and later removed it. However, if you do plan on making a hole that big for installing something like an outlet box, just do a good job and plan on leaving it there when you move out.
- Putty knife. This is for applying the spackling.
- Sanding block. I used to keep sandpaper, but that sucks, so I have a sanding block. You want to smooth out the spackling after applying it (and letting it dry).
- Wall anchors and assorted screws. Get good ones that can support a reasonable amount of weight. I've hung speakers from these things before. Depending on the terms of your lease, you may have to back anchors out and fill the holes before moving out. If you have to do that, that's where the spackling comes in.
- Paint brush. My usual rule is "I don't paint." And I try to stand by that. I did enough Eagle Scout service projects growing up that my painting days are over. However, sometimes you will need to paint over spackling to make it match the wall. In every place I've lived in, there has been a mostly used can of paint under a sink or something that works just fine for this purpose, I just need the brush.
- Assorted nails. Ones for hanging things on walls as well as repairing a shelf or something like that.
- Electrical tape. Has many uses.
- 3M Command Strips. Way safer than mounting tape.
- Toilet flush handle repair kit. Seriously, when these things break, it's at night. I can fix it myself.
- Light bulbs. The environment friendly soft serve cone compact fluorescent ones.
- Kitchen sink and bathroom sink drain baskets. For catching food particles or hair or whatever.
- Leviton QuickPort parts (ports, tools, wall plates, etc). Do your own networking. In New Hampshire, we used the phone lines to do 100BaseT networking. Cut the phone jack off, add a Leviton QuickPort and suddenly it's a networking port.
- Extension cords and grounded power adapters.
- Carpet knife. When you need to cut out carpet, you need a knife.
Oddly, with that small amount of stuff, I can hide most accidents in an apartment (or cover up modifications).
Today I am doing the following:
- Replacing a paper towel holder in the kitchen. Yes, this is a simple job, but it has to be done. One arm of the holder snapped off the other day.
- Replacing a light bulb in an overhead light in the kitchen...just not sure how to reach it yet.
- Installing a new towel rack in the bathroom.
- Repairing a wall scar that we covered up with a picture frame.
- Hanging some more wall items.
- Making the remote power switch for the office light actually work.