A level is used to make sure that lumber is either parallel or perpendicular to the ground. This is important to not only make sure that your house looks right, but also to make sure that it works right. If your house is out of level and not square, you may find that you doors and windows either don’t fit or don’t work correctly.
Four feet is the optimal length for a level if you have to choose just one, as shorter lengths are not as accurate. You also want one that is easy to read and well built. It’s not uncommon for a level to fall off of a surface, and a cheaply made level can be damaged such that it is no longer accurate. After looking at a few different levels we liked the Empire 48 in. Magnetic Box Level. It is well built, it has a small window on the side so that you can view the gauge from above when checking a horizontal surface, and the end gauges can be rotated to check for a specific angle. All-in-all, another great tool from IRWIN.