Q: I want to buy a fixer-upper for my first home that I can work on myself, but some friends are warning against it. They’re all telling me I should pay careful attention to the home inspection checklist. What is a home inspection checklist?

A. Congratulations on taking your home purchase seriously and seeking advice from friends. For a next step, you should get recommendations from your friends for a REALTOR® and interview a few agents before you choose one.

A REALTOR® can help you make the decision between buying a fixer-upper or a newer home in better shape. They’ll show you both types of properties, so you can have a clear idea of your choices—and the costs involved in both time and money.

If you have experience working on a home or relationships with reliable contractors, a fixer-upper purchase can be a good investment—but be sure you know what you’re buying. Many buyers have found a property that needs work requires even more time and money than initially anticipated.

No matter whether you choose a fixer-upper, a home in great condition, or even a new home, it’s essential to have a home inspection. A home inspector will go over the plumbing, electricity, heating, and air conditioning in your home and examine the foundation, walls, windows, and roof to identify any potential problems with the property.

A home inspection will generally cost you $300 to $400, but that’s a small price to pay when you consider the median price of a home is around $200,000.

After an inspection, the inspector will give you a home inspection checklist.

The checklist will vary depending on the inspector, but generally it’s divided into sections. It will cover the exterior elements: roof, gutters, walls, chimney, windows, decks, and porches. It also will report on the interior elements: floors, ceilings, plumbing, basements, and attics.

Your home inspector should produce a report with detailed notes that analyze the condition and flag any potential problems.

When you find a home you want to purchase, your contract with the sellers should always include a home inspection.

However, if you’re competing with other buyers and are in love with the home, you can offer to waive the home inspection contingency—but still pay for an inspection on your own.

This way, you’d offer to buy the home “as is” and not request repairs from the sellers, but you’d still have the benefit of the inspector’s professional expertise to point out any defects or required maintenance.

You should always plan to attend the home inspection—especially if you’re looking at a home that will require work. Ask the home inspector to share his opinion about the cost of potential repairs and renovations.

The home inspection checklist is something you can use to organize your personal inspection of the property and to evaluate the property before finalizing your purchase.