In many cases, there will already be a pest inspection report available on the property you are submitting an offer on. This will outline any damage that's present from dryrot, fungus rot and termites or other pests and give an estimate for the repairs. Most homes in Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Alameda and surrounding areas are at least 40-50 years old, which means there is usually some amount of damage to some part of the home. It is very common for a house that appears to be in excellent shape to have anywhere from 3-20k in damage from pests, dryrot or fungus rot. Of course homes that have been recentley remodeled or have been extremely well kept are likely to have much less damage if any.
On the other hand, it's not as common for the seller to get a home inspection done on the property before it goes on the market. A home inspection looks at all the fundamental systems of the home such as electrical, plumbing, ventilation, drainage, foundation, and other safety issues. It is recommended that buyers obtain a home inspection as soon as escrow is opened. If the home inspector finds issues with critical parts of the home such as the foundation, he or she will recommend a further inspection by someone who specializes in that particular area of the home.
The amount of time the buyer has to obtain inspections on the property is known as the inspection contingency, see the section on "contingencies" for more info. The contingency refers to a time frame in which the buyer is to complete all investigations of the property. It is equally important to get a home inspection whether the home is new, remodeled, or still in it's original condition. Just because a home was recently built or remodeled does not mean there aren't any issues with it. Mistakes can be made when homes are built or remodeled that may not be aparent to the average homebuyer. Prices for home inspections usually range from $350-500 depending on the square footage of the home. Considering the fact that a home is most likely going to be one of the biggest purchases of your life, it makes sense to spend a few hundred dollars to have a professional inspect it for any problems. You should have your inspection done by an insured and experienced inspector who is familiar with the area.