If you're asking the question, the answer is almost certainly "yes." A home inspection is an accepted part of the home-buying process nowadays; in some cases, you may not be able to get a mortgage without a home inspection being conducted.
The Federal Housing Administration recommends home inspections for anyone getting federal assistance with a home loan. A bad home inspector could potentially cause more headaches for buyers and sellers, but if you do a little work beforehand, you should get a great deal of information about the house you're buying.
Hire a Professional Home Inspector
To get the most out of your home inspection, make sure you're dealing with a professional home inspector. (Asking your friend the electrician or your uncle the plumber to make quick tours of the place will not cut it.) The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) requires its members to subscribe to its standards of practice and code of ethics, as does the National Association of Home Inspectors. Many states also license home inspectors; you can look up your state at ASHI's website.
The Time and Money are Worth It
Expect the home inspection itself to take about three hours and cost several hundred dollars. The home inspector will evaluate the structure of a home, check the plumbing, and assess everything from the electrical wiring to the gutters. No home performs 100% on a home inspection; each one will have small problems identified in the inspection report. But the inspector could uncover serious problems, such as with the foundation or with the drainage.
Note that there are some tests your home inspector typically doesn't do, such as for asbestos, radon gas, or mold. Also, the home inspector may not inspect the roof. Talk to your inspector about what tests he or she will or won't perform. Tests for radon gas and lead paint can be purchased as do-it-yourself kits, but a mold test might require another professional. This is especially important if you're purchasing (or living in) an older home.
After the Home Inspection
Once you have the home inspection report in hand, what do you do with it? (Note: the home inspection report is different from the appraisal, and won't assess the house's value.) If you're buying a house, you'll want to decide whether to ask the seller to make needed repairs or fix them yourself.
Small repairs might not be worth antagonizing the seller, but major flaws might be big enough to cause you to think twice about buying. If you're the seller, be prepared for the buyer to try and ask for more repairs, but you don't have to commit to taking on a minor repair if your contract doesn't call for it. However, some mortgage companies may require major repairs be completed before closing.
In the end, buying a house is probably the biggest financial commitment you will make. It doesn't make sense to skimp on the home inspection when doing so risks making you responsible for major repairs later on.