A Beginner’s Guide to Home Construction Loans

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

home construction loans, the wooden frame of a house being built

If you’re looking to build or remodel your dream home from the ground up, home construction loans could pave the way.

Also known as a self-build loan, a home construction loan allows aspiring homeowners to borrow for the costs of their building or renovation project. The loan could cover everything from the land where your home is being built to the construction company’s fees to the cost of materials and other needs.

If this sounds like a financing option for you, check out our beginner’s guide to construction loans below, plus where you can find them.

How home construction loans work

Lenders view building-from-scratch projects as risky propositions. That’s because the nonexistent home can’t be used as collateral like in a traditional home mortgage. As a result, the price tag for a construction loan can be high.

For example, the rates on this type of loan are higher than on a traditional mortgage. You’ll also have a variable rate and a short repayment term.

Lenders also ask borrowers for an initial down payment on the loan. In fact, they might insist on 20% to 25% of the project cost, although some lenders allow a smaller down payment in the 10% range.

What’s more, the lender disburses the loan amount to the homebuilder, not the homeowner — and not all at once. The lender makes installment payments at each stage of construction. An inspector typically hired by the lender will also visit the building site to track progress on construction.

During the construction phase, you’ll make interest-only payments on your home construction loan. Since it’s a variable-rate loan, those interest-only payment amounts can increase or decrease during construction.

When construction has finished, the lender will likely give you the option to pay off the loan or convert your unpaid loan amount into a traditional home mortgage.

Different types of home construction loans

There are four variations of home construction loans for aspiring homeowners.

  1. Construction-to-permanent: When construction is complete, your loan will be converted into a traditional mortgage. With a construction-to-permanent loan, you’ll pay closing costs once and get to lock in your mortgage interest rate.
  2. Construction only: You could opt to take out two loans: one for constructions costs and another for your mortgage. You’ll get to shop for a mortgage lender while construction is being completed. With this two-time-close loan, you’ll pay closing costs a second time when you take out a mortgage.
  3. Renovation: If you’re working with a fixer-upper, you could borrow against the expected value of your renovated home. Keep in mind that there are plenty of alternative ways to pay for home renovations, including a home equity line of credit or a personal loan for minor repairs.
  4. Owner-builder construction: If you’re the builder of your own house and have the certification to prove it, you could take out this type of loan.
  5. End loan: With this type of loan, the builder takes on the costs of constructing your new home. When it’s complete, you buy the finished home from the builder with a mortgage.

No matter the loan type that makes the most sense for your situation, you’ll want to ensure you’re financially able to move forward. Do you have enough income, for example, to cover living costs while the home is being built?

Building a new house, or fixing up an old one, can get expensive fast. Proceed with caution. You don’t want to pay more for your future home than it’ll be worth when it’s done.

How to find home construction loans

You’re most likely to find a home construction loan with a regional bank or credit union in your community since many big banks don’t offer them. You can find a local loan officer or mortgage advisor by searching national banks’ directories online.

If you’re considering online lenders such as Waterstone Mortgage Corporation, make sure you compare multiple offers before settling on one.

Similar to buying a house, it’s wise to get pre-qualified for a home construction before you start picking out furniture. But qualifying for a home construction loan with one of these types of lenders is no walk in the park.

You’ll be judged primarily on your credit history and debt-to-income ratio. But there are a host of other factors that might be considered. At TD Bank, for example, you’ll need to supply a signed contract with your builder that details the budget and timeline of your project.

Partnering with a certified builder or developer is the first step for most aspiring homeowners. Choosing the right builder is crucial because it could mean fewer expensive delays in construction. Short of referrals, you might start your search for one via the National Association of Home Builders’ online directory.

Before you get that far, however, it’s wise to take one more look at your finances. Begin by asking yourself how much house you can afford. Then you’ll want to tack on the extra costs of borrowing to build it.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.199% APR to 15.365% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.145% APR to 14.685% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of June 15, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.145% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.97% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply:SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.15% – 15.37%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.87% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% – 29.99%$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
5.99% – 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.49% – 18.24%$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.