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Do I need a home inspection?
Yes. Buying a home "as is" is a risky proposition. Major repairs on homes can amount to thousands of dollars. Plumbing, electrical and roof problems represent significant and complex systems that are expensive to fix.
A home inspection is when a paid professional inspector -- often a contractor or an engineer -- inspects the home, searching for defects or other problems that might plague the owner later on. They usually represent the buyer and or paid by the buyer. The inspection usually takes place after a purchase contract between buyer and seller has been signed.
Your real estate agent is one source. But keep in mind that you can also choose your own home inspector. Inspectors are listed in the yellow pages. You can ask for referrals from friends. Ask for their credentials, such as contractor's license or engineering certificate. Also, check out their references and online reviews.
The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has developed formal inspection guidelines and a professional code of ethics for its members. Membership to ASHI is not automatic; proven field experience and technical knowledge of structures and their various systems and appliances are a prerequisite. Rates for the service vary greatly. Many inspectors charge about $400, but costs go up with the scope of the inspection.