2017 Guide to Home Construction Loans

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If you are planning to build your own home this year, you will probably need a new home construction loan. This article will highlight the critical parts of construction loans so that you can make an informed decision on how to finance new home construction loans.

Overview of Home Construction Financing

Unless you can pay cash for your home building project, you will need a construction loan to pay for large portions of the labor and materials. A home construction loan also can be used to buy land for your house to sit on, too.

Home construction loans are more complex than a regular mortgage loan; you are borrowing funds for a short time to construct a building that does not exist yet. A construction loan then is basically a line of credit similar to a credit card. But in this case, a bank controls when money is borrowed and paid to your contractor.

A home construction loan requires bank approval for both you and the builder. The bank has to check that you can afford the loan and will have enough money to finish the project. The contractor must show he has the financial ability and skills to get the house constructed on time and under budget.

home construction loans

What Are the Two Types of Home Construction Loans?

There are two types of construction loans: one time close loans, and two time close loans.

In all of these loans, money is distributed by the lender according to a draw schedule that was set up in advance. For example, so much money will be disbursed when the foundation is done, and so much when the framing is done. The idea here is to only pay for work that has been finished, minus holding costs. The latter is typically 10% of the total project amount. This will be held back until everything is finished on the property and it is occupied.

During construction, the payments are interest only. They start out small as you will only pay on the funds that are handed out to the contractor.

When construction is finished, you will make a large balloon payment for all that is owed. On some construction loans, there will be no payments due until the house is finished.

Fees for construction loans are higher than a regular mortgage; the risks are greater for the construction loan lender because the building is not complete. Also, the bank must carefully manage fund disbursement. This takes more work than funding a regular mortgage. See my recent article that highlights the similarities and differences between a construction loan and HELOC.

About One Time Construction Loans

These are the most popular for home buyers. But they can be hard to find in some parts of the US. They are also referred to as construction to permanent loans. These will wrap your construction costs into the mortgage so that you have one loan.

These are good home improvement loans if you have a very good idea on what the project is going to cost.

A one-time construction loan has a single approval process and one closing. This makes the project simpler and reduces your closing costs. Within the one time construction loan, there are several different options.

Some lenders may charge a higher rate for the construction loan than permanent mortgage financing. The borrower can usually select from several mortgages, such as a 30-year fixed loan, FHA construction loan, or several ARMs.

Some banks may allow you to lock in a fixed rate loan with a float down variable. This would let you get the lower rate if rates fall. This costs you of course. If the construction takes more than a year, you may have to pay more.

Here are some considerations for one time close loans:

  • You pay only one set of closing costs.
  • You get approved for both the construction and mortgage at the same time
  • Permanent financing has several options
  • FHA 203K Loan for Home Construction
  • If you go over budget, you might need to take out another loan and pay closing costs again.
  • Permanent rates may be higher than with a two time close loan.

About Two Time Close Home Construction Loans

This type of loan is really two loans. You get a short term loan for construction, and another loan for the long term mortgage when the project is done. So, you are refinancing the building when it is done. You will need to get approval and pay closing costs again when it is done.

During construction, you only have to pay interest on the funds that are disbursed. The payments are small at first but will rise with time.

The bank usually will add a contingency fee of up to 10% on the loan in case costs go over. This happens often with home construction. It is always best to qualify for as much money as you can. That way, you have a cash reserve to tap if you need it.

You have two loan settlements with a two time close loan, so closing costs are higher. But you often can get a better interest rate on your permanent mortgage.

Considerations for this Type of Construction Loan:

  • More flexibility to modify your plans and boost loan amount.
  • Mortgage rates may be lower than the one time close loans.
  • You can shop around for a permanent mortgage.
  • You have to be approved two times.
  • You face financial risk if your circumstances changed before you apply for a permanent mortgage
  • If you do not get approved for your mortgage, you could be foreclosed up.

The Bottom Line

Both types of construction loans can work well for your construction project. Which one is best for you will depend upon your personal finances and the type of project. Getting a one close loan is often less risky, and is the type of loan we see more often.

construction mortgage

5 Ways to Raise Your Home Value with a Construction Loan

If you own a home and want to increase its value, a good way to do so is to get a construction loan or a home renovation loan. For those who have the income and credit to qualify, increasing your home value with a renovation can really be quite easy.

As you consider which renovations to do to increase your home’s value, it is important to know that the cost of the renovation or construction may not always pay off in an equal amount of increased home value. That said, there are some home renovations that will nearly always bring more value than others.

It may not sound like much, but one of the biggest pay offs for home improvements today is a new, attractive front door. Experts say that a new front door will give you 96% return on investment in many cases. It does need to be the right front door of course; as with all home renovations, you should remember that you do not want to spend too much on a home improvement compared to the value of the home.

If your home is worth $250,000, you will not see your money back by putting in a $10,000 front door. But a nice, attractive $1000 door should pay off when it comes time to sell or pull out cash.

Experts note when you get the renovation or construction loan, replacing some of the older elements of the home, such as windows, siding and doors, usually will pay off better in increased home value than a large remodel, such as an addition.

That said, some real estate agents argue that an updated bathroom and kitchen will still pay off when it comes time to sell. A recent report noted that kitchen renovation projects usually return more on investment than a bathroom. A minor kitchen remodel was recently found by US News and World Report to return approximately 83% of the money invested.

Doing the kitchen often makes sense because people tend to overestimate what a kitchen remodel costs. A typical dated kitchen might make the buyer think that $50,000 is needed. But a minor upgrade to a kitchen – new cabinet doors, appliances, counters, sink, paint and hardware, can often be done for $20,000 or less. Smart and cost conscious shoppers can often make a kitchen look like new with much less than you think.

It is important to not overdo it on the kitchen, and on any major construction or remodel. If you have a $100,000 home and you spend $60,000 on the kitchen, there is little chance you will see that money back, even though you will certainly enjoy your newly luxurious kitchen.

Experts recommend that you spend approximately 25% of the value of the home for a new kitchen, and 12-15% for a renovated bathroom.

When thinking about the style of the renovation, experts warn home owners away from ‘improvements’ that are vastly different than the style of the rest of the home. If the new kitchen does not match the style of the rest of the house, it may even detract value.

Converting part of the attic into a bedroom is another renovation that your construction loan could make very worthwhile. Experts state that this type of addition can lead to an 84% return on investment. Turning the attic into a usable space is very profitable in many parts of the country; it can be even more attractive in the areas of the country where there are no basements.

Another popular option that is not very expensive is to convert existing windows into French doors that go to the backyard. It makes rooms feel larger and gives one somewhere to go. It just makes the home feel bigger.

New siding, windows and insulation may not be as sexy in terms of renovations, but it still can return a lot of money when the time comes to sell the home.

Other improvements to the home that add value include:

  • Adding a wood deck: 87.4%
  • Garage door replacement: 82.7%
  • Attic bedroom: 84%

Taking out a home construction loan or a renovation loan to do home improvements makes a lot of sense if you spend the money wisely. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to not spend too much money on any one major improvement compared to what the home is worth.

As mentioned earlier, a $50,000 kitchen upgrade on a $100,000 house is not worth the investment, no matter how much you personally enjoy the kitchen. But a $20,000 new kitchen on a $100,000 home makes sense when you sell the home.

If you keep in mind the useful tips we offered above on home improvements that are worth the cost, you will be able to increase the value of your home and make it that much more enjoyable for you and your family.

About Bryan Dornan

With over 20 years in the mortgage industry, Bryan Dornan has started several companies, such as the Lead Planet, Mortgage Lenders Plus and the Refi Guide. Mr. Dornan has written hundreds of finance related articles in an effort to promote home-ownership to consumers across the United States.