Never waive a home inspection.

Some people are tempted to skip getting a home inspection, either because they want to save some extra bucks or because they fall in love with a place. But it’s easy to make a home look good on the surface—you’re buying an illusion.

If you really want to know what you’re buying, you get a home inspection. But there are a few rules.

First, you must hire the right inspector—a pro. And you hire the right home inspector the same way you hire the right contractor: by slowing down, doing your homework and educating yourself.

Make sure they have plenty of experience doing home inspections. Ideally, you want someone with at least a thousand home inspections under their belt, and someone with a construction background—residential construction.

You don’t want someone who was flipping burgers six months ago, or an accountant by day, home inspector by night. You need a professional, and professionals live and breathe the industry. Why? Because they have to.

Think about it. If a person is expected to be able to come into a home—any home—and point out all the major issues in just a couple of hours, they need to know the red flags; what to look for depending on the age of the home, its construction, the area, local weather and environmental conditions, etc.

They also need to have a basic understanding of structure, plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)—what was done 5 years ago, 20 years ago, 100 years ago, and what’s being done today—and how all those things can affect other areas of the home. It’s a lot of stuff to know.

For example, if they’re looking at an older home a good home inspector would know to check for knob and tube wiring, lead or galvanized steel piping, vermiculite and/or asbestos.

If the electrical is knob and tube, some insurance companies might not insure the house, or charge a much higher premium. If there’s galvanized steel piping it can rust and reduce water pressure, possibly even rupture. If the water supply piping is made from lead (which is possible in older homes), it can wear down over time and then get into your water, which we know isn’t healthy. If there’s vermiculite insulation it can contain asbestos; and if there’s any asbestos in the house it can be a serious health risk if you disturb it.

Inspecting homes isn’t just something you can pick up and do in a few months. It takes time and experience to get it right and do it right, because getting it wrong could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs—to you!

Get your money’s worth by hiring a pro, and then ask a lot of questions.

Educate yourself. Know what to expect during a home inspection and what to ask. Sometimes people ask me if they should be present during the home inspection. It’s not expected, but I do recommend walking around the house with the home inspector, that way you can ask all the questions you want to get the information you need.

And at the end when you get the report, READ IT.

Sometimes people pay all this money to get a home inspection, and then they never read the report. It makes no sense.

Go through it, make sure you understand everything that’s in there, and if you have any questions contact the inspector. If they suggested a more thorough follow-up on a specific part of the house, like the furnace or the plumbing, bring in a professional specialized in that area as soon as possible. The information they give you can be a deal breaker.

A home inspection gives you a snapshot of a home at the time of inspection. The goal is to minimize risk for the homeowner, homebuyer or seller by pointing out the big problems and the major issues. Only a pro can do that.

Slow down, do your homework, educate yourself and hire a professional home inspector, because if you don’t look out for you and protect your investment, no one else will for you.