All homes should be inspected before purchase unless you own an inspection company or work in the home building industry. It’s for your safety and the safety of your family. Although sellers are required to disclose any known defects, most aren’t even aware of defects in the house. It is your responsibility to assure yourself of the condition of the property before you close on it. If not, you are essentially giving up any rights to go after the seller to repair the defects. You can try to sue them, but you have to prove that they were aware of the defect and deliberately hid it from you. A very difficult and expensive thing to do. Besides, trying to get the seller to fix something after closing is almost impossible.
All contracts should be subject to the buyers being allowed 2 weeks to have any and all inspections done at their own expense to find any hidden or unknown defects in the property. If the condition is satisfactory to the purchaser, the home buying process continues. If it is not satisfactory, then the buyer and seller either negotiates responsibility for the repairs, or both parties mutually agree to release each other from the contract. Remember not to nitpick the seller to death. Deal with the big issues and go from there.
RECOMMENDATION: If all the systems are working, but old, consider asking the seller to provide you with a one year Home Protection Plan. It covers all the systems for an entire year. If anything quits, simply pay a small deductible and they fix or replace it. I recommend them. They cost about $450-$550 and if the seller won’t get it for you, consider purchasing it yourself. Home Protection Plans provide peace of mind!
Whole-house, termite, municipal and gas inspections are standard, with radon and sewer line inspections becoming more common all the time. You can pick out the inspector, or better yet, get a name from your agent. With their experience, they should know of a couple good ones to recommend. If you don’t trust your agents recommendation, get your own. I do not recommend you use that friend of the family, or your dad (although you should invite them if you wish) and your uncle that knows everything about houses. You want an inspector that is bonded, insured and performs these inspections every day, all year long. Odds are, they won’t miss anything. What you should be looking for is a fair assessment of the condition of the property.
In my opinion, new homes do not need an inspection. New homes come with a termite treatment and are heavily monitored during construction, but feel free to get one if you’d like.