The list of things that can be wrong with a new home is endless, so don't sign on the dotted line until a reputable home inspector gives you the all clear.
The cost of an inspection is nothing compared to your purchase price. It's also nothing compared to what you will pay for unexpected repairs if you don't have a home inspection.
Most houses have defects or need repairs, and many problems can be serious. A home inspection will point out any safety hazards and alert you to major repairs that will be necessary.
A home inspector is a jack-of-all-trades who is familiar with everything from structures and electrical and plumbing systems to insulation, heating and cooling systems, and roofs.
During an inspection, the inspector will make an intensive visual examination of your home, concentrating on areas such as the foundation; exterior walls and roof; attic, basement and garage; electrical, plumbing and heating systems; and the home's interior.
The inspector should then present a written report that details findings and suggests repairs. It's always advisable that you attend the inspection, which may take two to three hours. But don't expect the home inspector to provide cost estimates. Your best bet is to contact two or three contractors.
When looking for a qualified home inspector, don't overlook recommendations from friends or your real estate agent, but be aware that there are other resources to help you.
The NC Licensed Home Inspector Association. (HCLHIA) provides standards of practice and a code of ethics, as well as training courses for potential members. Some states now license home inspectors, but many do not. In states that don't, it's important to establish that the inspector is qualified and is a member in good standing of an organization such as NCLHIA. The Better Business Bureau can also help you.
Remember that the inspection report won't guarantee you're set forever once the suggested repairs are completed. Houses still need regular maintenance and repair, and as the homeowner, that's your job.