Importance of getting an inspection
Hire a professional to do a home inspection that includes everything from plumbing and electrical systems to heating and cooling. If the inspection identifies problems, the seller may be willing to adjust the contract terms or purchase price in anticipation of your future repair costs. If problems appear to be severe, you may decide not the purchase the home after all.
If you do back out of the purchase, be aware that you may have to sacrifice up-front costs, including your credit report fee and loan application fee.
How to find a qualified inspector
One way to find a professional home inspector that has the experience and knowledge to properly inspect the home you are interested in purchasing is to ask your real estate professional. Your real estate professional can usually point you to a list of home inspectors or provide resources where you can choose a home inspector. It's wise to always ask for credentials and ask for references.
Different types of inspections
There are two types of inspections commonly performed; mechanical and structural. It's a good idea to get both. Some home inspection companies provide both types of inspections but it is not unusual to arrange for a mechanical inspection and also for a structural inspection. If the property has a septic system, for example, it's a good idea to also have an inspection performed on the septic tank.
The mechanical inspection covers all of the working components in the home such as the heating systems, cooling systems, plumbing, electrical systems, and appliances that stay with the property such as a dishwasher.
A structural inspection covers the foundation, roof, and the overall construction of the property and alerts the homebuyer to any defects that might not be visible to the untrained eye.
If the property has a septic system, for example, it's a good idea to also have an inspection performed on the septic tank also.