Well, let's see. Is it a new house, nearly new house or a 90-year-old
house? Is it a conventional house or a modular home? What part of the
country is the house in? One would need to know a lot more than you
have provided to answer that question.
First, make sure the seller provides a list of all known defects.
Let me try to answer your question this way.
You will want a thorough inspection so if you call around for prices
you should stay away from the dirt cheap inspectors. A full-time
inspector is usually more committed to the job than a part-timer. Find
out what experience the inspector has, whether he belongs to any home
inspector associations (ASHI, NAHI) and whether he takes any
continuing education classes to keep abreast of things. Ask how long
the inspection will last; a 90-minute inspection will naturally not be
as thorough as a 3-hour inspection. Ask what kind of report you will
get (a simple check list at the end of the inspection or a more
detailed narrative report with photos provided the next day).
The inspector should inspect the house top to bottom. Exterior
(siding, windows, doors, grading, decks, walks, drives), roof,
structure, electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, insulation,
ventilation, interior finishes. Keep in mind that he will inspect what
is visible; he cannot look inside walls to see the wiring or plumbing
and he most likely will not move furniture, boxes, clothes, etc. to
see behind them.
An inspection of the roof by actually walking on the roof is much more
thorough than an inspection from a ladder or from the ground with
binoculars (that is how some inspectors inspect the roof). The
inspector should make sure that there is proper drainage all around
the house. The inspector should take a close look at the water heater,
furnace (if there is one look for a crack in the heat exchanger),
electrical panel (look for double tapping, oversized breakers,
aluminum wiring, Federal Pacific panel), plumbing (watch for
polybutylene piping). If the house has stucco be VERY careful if it is
EIFS (synthetic stucco); this type of stucco can retain moisture
behind it and rot out the structure. The inspector should inspect the
attic for any roof leaks, adequate insulation and adequate
ventilation. He should also ensure that all exhaust fans vent to the
exterior and NOT into the attic. The garage door opener safety devices
should be tested (electric eye and auto-reverse mechanism).
Hope this helps.