If you're about to make an offer on a home, one of the most critical contingencies you need to add to the offer is a home inspection. You want to know exactly what you're getting before the deal is done, or you risk losing thousands of dollars on repairs. See our: Home Owners Remodeling and Life Expectancy Guide
Items that need to be checked by a licensed home inspector include: the roof, foundation, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems. It's also important to check for signs of wood-destroying pests, mold, and other damages to the property. A proper inspection will take roughly three hours, and generally costs a few hundred dollars. If you can, join the inspector as s/he examines the home. This will ensure that you're well acquainted with the faults and foibles of the house—before closing on the deal. If the inspection does turn up serious problems, you can ask the sellers to either fix the problems or lower their asking price.