If you have to obtain a home inspection for any reason, chances are that the home inspector should present you with a special report after the inspection. Many times, this report is in a generic home inspection form that covers all potential house problems from basement to attic.
The home inspection form has sections for the exterior of the house, the basement, the attic, the roof, the electrical system, the plumbing, the foundation, and a section for any other problems the inspector may note, such as windows that are difficult to open and close, signs of water damage, or asbestos. If a home inspector is not able to access a part of the house (such as the attic) this is generally a red flag and something that you should look into further before committing to the house. Read the report on the home inspection form carefully. A home inspector simply states his or her observations, and may make recommendations about repairs, but it is up to you, the homeowner, to decide what problems are a dealbreaker. Remember that you can use projected repair costs to negotiate the house price. Get contractor estimates for necessary repairs, add the estimates together, and ask the seller to subtract these costs from the price of the home.
If you are a seller, you can use a home inspection form to preempt problems. Look at your house carefully based on the categories on the form. (Leave the electrical inspections to the pros.) Using a home inspection form can help you determine what problems an inspector might find. Fix any problems that you can before a buyer sends an inspector to the house. Alternatively, you can pull up a copy of your old home inspection form from when you bought the house; you can see which problems have been fixed and which have not.