Do I need an Engineer or a Home Inspector?
You need a home inspector. When you hire a home inspector, you are hiring an experienced professional who has training and experience in the building industry. It is the job of the home inspector to not only evaluate the condition of the house's major systems and structural integrity, but also to evaluate how these systems are working together and identify areas that need to be watched, repaired or replaced.
Your home inspector gives you the "Big Picture" analysis of the house you are purchasing. If the home inspector identifies the need for a costly, detailed analysis of any of the houses' systems or structures, the inspector will recommend the appropriate professional, which may be an experienced engineer with expertise analyzing that particular system or structure. The need for this kind of expensive, detailed analysis is rare.
Hiring a Professional Engineer on your own can be a disappointing experience. The term "Professional Engineer" does not mean that the individual has training or experience conducting home inspections. Additionally, a home inspection does not involve engineering analysis. Therefore, hiring a "Professional Engineer" to complete a home inspection undoubtedly costs more, but it may not give you the results you desire and deserve.