A home inspection is a common contingency included in an offer to purchase. Not all buyers ask for one, but most do. FHA and VA appraisals ARE NOT home inspections and you will be signing "as is" statements at the closing, so a home inspection is not a bad idea. Any inspections you ask for usually need to be performed within a week or ten days of an accepted offer, and most inspections are at the buyer's expense. I usually recommend to my buyer clients that they pay for all their inspections. That way it's your inspector working for YOU- not the seller.
There are several possible inspections a buyer can ask for: a general home inspection, well and septic inspections, radon inspection, mold inspection, pest inspection, lead paint inspection. And the list can go on and on. The most common is the general home inspection. Well and septic inspections are pretty common, too. Your home inspector can recommend any further inspections if he sees the need for one.
A general home inspection usually includes looking at the major components such as:
Structural elements, foundation, framing etc
Cosmetic condition, paint, siding etc
If the house you're buying has a well, your general home inspector can usually collect a water sample and have it tested. He is also the best person to talk to about what type of water tests to have. Some areas are higher risk to have radon or arsenic in the water than other areas. They usually can inspect your septic, too (if the house is on septic as opposed to sewer). If the house has been vacant any length of time, most inspectors will tell you a septic inspection is a waste of money.
There will be small issues on just about every home inspection- no house is perfect. We are generally looking for major issues that would be unacceptable for the price you are paying for that particular home. Another thing to remember is there is no such thing as a licensed home inspector in Michigan. Most are licensed builders, but home inspector is still a field that doesn't require licensing. So it's important to find a reputable home inspector. I work with one who is reasonably priced and very thorough. I don't receive a referral fee or kick back for referring him- I just know my clients will get good service.
If you have any questions about home inspections please feel free to call or email me anytime.