If you’re thinking of building your own home or doing a major renovation on your existing home, you’ll need to be familiar with the ins-and-outs of construction loans.
Construction loans are not as straightforward as standard home loans. There are additional decisions to be made about the structure of the loan, additional documentation is required, and the funding is released in an entirely different way.
In addition to documentation about your finances, income and identity, your application for a construction loan needs to include contracts or tenders for the construction, as well as the plans so that a valuation can be performed.
Further documentation will also be required before the first payment is made from the lender to the builder, including a schedule of the payments to be made (called drawdowns), the builders’ insurance details, and the final plans that have been approved by the local council.
In instances where you are purchasing land to build a new home, you are able to split your borrowing into a land loan and a construction loan. When you are ready to build, the land loan can be rolled into the construction loan. As construction loan are normally interest only during the build, this helps to preserve your cashflow for any contingencies that may incur.
The drawdown schedule is very important; as you don’t start paying interest on each portion of the loan until it is paid to the builder, you, the lender, and the builder, need to be satisfied with the schedule.
For the lender to make each payment to the builder, you will need to fill out a drawdown request form from your lender and submit it to your builder. The builder can then send the lender your form with an invoice for that part of the payment and, after the lender is satisfied that the work has been completed and is up to the standard expected in the valuation, the drawdown can be completed with a payment to the builder.
Any changes to the contract and plans can trigger a reassessment of the loan, so be as sure as you can that the plans and contracts the lender sees are final. It’s also worth trying to pay for any small amendments from your own pocket, rather than changing the loan and risking a reassessment.
Problems can also arise when other work on the site that isn’t completed by the builder needs to be paid for, as some lenders only make the remaining funds of the mortgage available after the completion of construction.
While some builders will include subcontractors as part of the main contract, meaning that they can be paid by the builder as stages of work are complete throughout the drawdown schedule, others will not do this. Again, this may make it necessary to pay from your own pocket.
After practical completion and certification of occupancy is provided to the bank, the final payment is made by the Bank. At this time, the loan will convert from interest only to one with Principal and Interest repayments.