A home inspection is designed to give buyers a better understanding of the systems and overall condition of the home they're buying. Otherwise, you'd have to rely on your own knowledge and experience.
When you hire a home inspector, there are a few things you need to know.
A home inspection should point out questionable conditions and/or potential safety-related concerns in the home you want to buy. A home inspection should cover:
Walk through the home with the inspector so he or she can point out conditions to you that will go into the written report you will receive. Make your own notes so you can discuss the findings with your real estate agent.
A structural inspection is what most buyers typically order, which may note such things as previous termite damage, but that's no guarantee there's not a new infestation. Depending on your lender's requirements and your own need to know, you may order several types of inspections - structural, termite, and environmental.
Make sure your home inspector is an expert, with a background in plumbing, HVAC, electrical work or general contracting, or is a member of a professional organization such as the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI). Ask your inspector for credentials and certifications.
Once the inspector gives you the written report, you have the information you and your lender need to make informed decisions about what needs repair, and whether you or the seller is responsible.