Home buyers can use home inspections to identify major issues with a home prior to closing. A home inspection report can be used as a contingency in a contract with the seller. This contingency provides that if significant defects are revealed by a home inspection, the buyer can back out of their purchase offer, free of penalty, within a certain timeframe.
Inspectors vary in experience, ability, and thoroughness, but a well-trained inspector will examine all the major components of the home and then produce a report covering his or her findings. The typical inspection lasts two to three hours and the buyer should be present for the inspection to get a firsthand explanation of the inspector's findings and, if necessary, ask questions. Also, any problems the inspector uncovers will make more sense if the buyer sees them in person instead of relying solely on the snapshot photos in the report.