Buying a home? You'll need a home inspection!
Having a home inspection is ALWAYS recommended when purchasing a home. In Pennsylvania, our agreement of sale has a section solely for all inspections. The seller agrees to provide access for inspections and have all heating and utilities on unless otherwise noted (vacant homes or foreclosures).
The agreement of sale has a list of things the prospective buyer can either waive or elect and the inspections may be performed by professional contractors, home inspectors, engineers, architects and other properly licensed or qualified inspectors.
The list consists of the home inspection, and environmental hazards; wood infestation; deeds, restrictions, and zoning; Water Service (Well); Radon; On-lot Sewage; property and flood insurance; property boundaries; lead paint hazards. There is one blank for the buyer to add anything that is not already covered. One caveat is that if one inspector is inspecting more than one system, the inspector must comply the with the Home Inspection Law which states that the inspector must be a full member in good standing of a national home inspection association or a person supervised by a full member. There's a little more to it in the agreement of sale and I am happy to provide a copy if you are interested in knowing more.
Another thing people do not realize is that an inspection should be non-invasive unless otherwise agreed to in writing. This would apply if a buyer wanted to have a moisture reading done of a stucco exterior.
Even new construction can be inspected. Some purchasers have an inspector come in just before the drywall is installed to make sure all wiring is done correctly and then again, just before closing.
In Pennsylvania, the inspector is authorized in writing (as part of the agreement of sale) to provide a copy of the inspection to the buyer's agent and the Seller has a right, upon request, to a free copy of any report from the party for whom it was prepared.
A buyer may choose any inspection company they wish as long as they comply with the rules. I have a trusted company that I recommend but I also tell buyers to ask their friends who have recently purchased if they've had a good experience with anyone they can recommend.
Buying a home is a huge investment. The cost of an inspection is a good investment in your future.