For most people, buying a home will be one of the most expensive purchases they ever make and they will often devote a significant portion of their lives to paying it off - if they ever do. That's why its important to make sure you are making the best investment possible. Whereas most states have "lemon laws" that protect consumers against purchasing faulty vehicles, there are far fewer laws protecting home buyers against buying faulty homes. This is why a home inspection is possibly the most important thing you can do in the home buying process.
What is a Home Inspection
A home inspection is conducted by a professional inspector who will inspect your home from the foundation to the rooftop. Unlike most home buyers, who will not climb a ladder and get up on a roof, climb up into a dusty attic or crawl through a hot, dirty crawlspace, a professional inspector will. A professional inspector is also trained to look for minute telltale evidence of things going amiss that the average home buyer would miss, such as termite damage or hairline cracks pointing to foundation issues. Like a good mechanic, they can not only tell you what is wrong, they can also tell you what is likely to go wrong and how soon it's likely to happen.
Perhaps most importantly, they can tell you if the wiring is up to code, the plumbing is solid and the foundation secure. Many times, homes have previous homeowners that considered themselves handy enough to forego calling in professionals to fix certain issues. As a result, their work may be a giant bill waiting to happen. If you know about these issues before closing, the repair costs can be negotiated with the seller. If you don't find out about them until signing on the dotted line, however, they are all on you.
Home Inspections Requirements
If you are getting a home loan through a lender, home inspections are almost always required. In a cash sale, inspections are not required, but they are still a good idea. You may think the huge discount you are getting is a good deal because the house you want to purchase just has some cosmetic issues that need fixing. Once it's yours, however, you may discover it actually has major foundation issues, needs an entirely new roof or a brand new septic system installed. Getting a home inspection will generally run you a few hundred dollars. Not getting one could cost you tens of thousands. You do the math.