First I would suggest that you work with a buyer's agent. This should not cost you any additional money and can offer you much protection and may end up saving you money in the end. It is the seller who pays the realtor's commissions so your first step should be to find a great agent to work with.
Next, you will need your pre-approval from a reputable lender. Today, you cannot make an offer that will be taken seriously unless your either have proof of funds for a cash offer or a pre-approval letter for financing.
Once you have the house under contract (and make sure that you have an inspection contingency in your contract), then you need to hire a home inspector. Your realtor should be able to provide you inspection is usually based on the size of the house. A good inspector will inspect the structure, roof, electrical, plumbing, furnace, a/c, hot water heater, etc. Normal prices for this inspection should run between $250 - $400.
Your agent and the inspector can advise you if additional inspections should be done. These would include well, septic (if applicable) and possibly radon, pest, mold and/or environmental. Many times these additional inspections are not necessary.
Good luck to you and if you need additional help, feel free to contact me.
Kathy Persha, Associate Broker
GRI, SFR, CDPE, CIAS
Keller Williams Realty