Before you purchase a home, hire an inspector to make sure the structure is sound and there aren’t any defects.

An inspection helps buyers identify serious issues with a house, condo, townhouse or other type of home. Some lenders require home inspections before they’ll approve closing on a mortgage loan. Professional home inspections aren’t always a required part of a purchase contract; they’re a smart part of buying a home and a property investment.

Whether or not a loan officer insists on an inspection, getting a home inspected is to your advantage. No one wants to find out there’s something wrong with a property after they’ve signed the papers.

Here’s what you need to know about home inspection, followed by a handy home inspection checklist:

Home Inspection 101