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The most important thing you can do for yourself, when buying a home is to hire a licensed Professional Engineer, PE. An engineer is a highly trained individual who knows specific things to look for when inspecting a home to ensure you buy the greatest home possible. For example, the PE will get into the tiny crevices of a home to find hidden problems that might otherwise be overlooked. Each thing not found is one more thing that could translate into a huge cost to you.

When you consider that buying a home takes a good amount of money to get started, the last thing you want to do is sign the papers and a week later discover a $5,000 expense that was not found by the engineer. For this reason, you need to ensure you find a PE that is licensed and comes with high recommendations. If you are not sure where to start, check with your real estate agent or lender. If they cannot recommend anyone, check with your local Chamber of Commerce.

While there are many obvious things that will be looked at such as the roof, the basement, crawl space, plumbing, and electrical, the PE will go well beyond the obvious to find those "hard to find" problems. For example, if you find a home that has deferred maintenance, one that has had a lot of updates, or one that is clearly not well maintained, you need to make sure it is checked thoroughly. One thing you can do is walk around with your engineer to see what all is being checked and above all, ask questions. The more you know the better.

Homes that have had any type of electrical or plumbing work done should also be checked with extra care. As long as the work performed was done professionally, you are probably fine. However, if you find renovations performed by an eager homeowner, even if the work looks good, the PE needs to check for both functionality and safety.

When the PE is finished with the complete inspection, you will be issued a full written report showing what all was found wrong with the home. A good inspector will identify the things that need to be changed immediately, those things that will need attention in the near future, and any items found that do not pose a serious problem, but should be addressed somewhere in the future.

When you go through the process of looking at homes to buy, you might get a copy of an inspector's checklist and take it with you. This will help you know what to look for before the inspector even comes into the picture. For instance, you might walk through a home, spot numerous problems without having a trained eye, and know what questions to ask. Then when the engineer comes through a home that you are interested in, he or she will find more. If your questions are not addressed or too many things start being checked on the list, you would be better off moving onto another home. A good, qualified Professional Engineer is well worth the investment.

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