When purchasing a home it is always recommended to buyers to perform a variety of inspections to satisfy the buyer. The buyer can opt to perform a range of inspections to make sure that they are well informed about what they are buying based on the condition of the home. They can perform as many or as few inspections as they want within the inspection time period specified on the purchase agreement. I have had buyers bring their construction buddy over to the home to take a look, or their handy father (or mother). But the most common method is for a buyer to hire a home inspector. These inspectors will go through the majority of the house, looking for defects. Their purpose is to find defects, and believe me, they will! They will generate a report detailing what they find. This report is usually many pages long, some reaching 20 - 30 pages or more. They usually know more than a handy uncle because they inspect hundreds of houses every year.
The main reason for an inspection though is to make sure there is a balance with the sales price, and the condition of the home itself. It is to know the home's defects are accounted for within the pricing of the home itself. So there a dozen of items to fix that total $300, that may be just fine. But if the inspection turns up a $6000 sewer line problem, that may not be accounted for in the sales price of the home. One could reasonably expect a properly working sewer line for the price of the home.
Besides the general inspection, there are also specialized inspections. The main one or two that I usually recommend is the sewer line inspection and/or a fireplace inspection and/or radon. Other types of inspections include structural, or environmental hazard (radon, lead, arsenic, etc.) electric or plumbing (as separate from the general inspection), pool or hot tub, among several other types of inspections.
Here is where the general inspection has its value. Most general inspections cost around $400-450 and gives them a 20-40 page report on the house. They detail as much as they can find, from outlets, to the furnace, to the roof. Although they don't specialize in every single area, they know quite a bit about houses and can validate all the major systems in the house. This inspection usually takes between 2 and 3 hours to complete.
Before the general inspector comes to your home, be sure to make your home accessible. This includes:
The rest of it is just keeping a clean house. Appearances of tidiness help make the home feel well taken care of.
If the buyer is doing a radon test, please be sure to try to follow the instructions left by the inspector. This is to ensure an accurate test. and usually includes leaving all windows shut, and minimally opening doors. Don't disturb the radon test unit or they may need to restart the test. The unit will measure radon levels over a 48 hour period and the EPA has guidelines as to how to interpret the results.
Make sure the inspectors can gain access to the sewer clean-out in case the buyers hire a sewer line company to "scope" the main drain. If it is difficult to find, put post-it notes up so that they know where it is. The sewer clean-out is usually located at or near the water meter. If you can't find one, then they may be able to do the inspection from the main stack, which is usually near the laundry or other mechanicals.