I’m with you - it’s a 19 year old car that just needs to run again - no need to rebuild the head or pull the whole motor and rebuild it. There’s no rocket science to checking for warpage - most mechanics just use a straight edge and feeler gauges. Look it over real good for cracks and turn the head valve-side up and fill the combustion chambers with water to see how bad the valves leak - it‘s a quick easy ballpark test. I wouldn’t expect all the valves to seal completely - mainly looking for badly leaking burnt valves that might cause you to have to pull the head a short time down the road. Also look over the valve guides and seats for anything obviously different from the others like it moved one way or the other. The mechanics I know would reuse the head bolts on their own cars, but wouldn’t trust online head gaskets - too many counterfeit parts.I plan on getting the head gaskets on my 04 outback replaced. The shop said the turn around time is going to depend on the time the machine shop can turn around the heads. Im thinking they plan to check the heads for flatness? If this is the case it seems like I can do this myself. First check them on a surface plate and mill flat if needed? I don't think a complete valve job is something I need.
Head gasket is one of the best money saving jobs if you don’t mind doing it.