How Does a Construction Loan Work?


Construction loans are commonly used for building new homes, renovating existing properties, or constructing commercial buildings. It is important to note that a construction loan Melbourne tends to have higher interest rates and shorter terms compared to a traditional mortgage loan because it is riskier for the lenders. As a borrower, you must have a well-thought-out construction plan, a solid credit history, and the ability to repay the loan.

Here is how a construction loan typically works:

Application and Approval

The borrower (often a homeowner or a developer) initiates the process by submitting an application for a construction loan to a lender. This application includes detailed information about the financial situation of the borrower, the construction project, and the loan amount requested.

The lender reviews the application for prequalification, which provides a rough estimate of what a borrower might qualify for based on the information available at that stage. The lender may also order an appraisal of the property or land on which the construction will take place.

After reviewing the application and all supporting documents, the lender assesses thecreditworthiness of the borrower and the feasibility of the project. If the lender is satisfied with the qualifications of the borrower and the construction plans, they may approve the loan.

Loan Amount

The total loan amount for a construction loan will encompass both hard and soft costs, plus the contingency reserve if required. Lenders will typically work with you to determine the appropriate loan amount based on your project plans and the estimated costs, as well as your ability to repay the loan.

Hard costs are the direct expenses associated with the construction project, including construction materials, labor costs, architectural and engineering fees, utilities and site work, and land acquisition. Soft costs are indirect expenses associated with the project, which are essential but not directly tied to the physical construction. They can include interest payments, loan fees, insurance, architectural and design fees, and legal and permitting costs.

Regarding contingency reserve, lenders often require it as part of the loan amount. This reserve is typically a percentage of the overall project cost set aside for unexpected expenses or cost overruns.

Draw Schedule

The lender and borrower agree on a draw schedule, which outlines the stages of construction at which the borrower can request funds. Funds are not disbursed all at once but are released in installments as the project progresses.

The draw schedule specifies the key milestones or stages of the construction project. These stages are often related to specific construction phases such as excavation, foundation, framing, roofing, electrical work, plumbing, and finishing. For each stage of construction, the draw schedule specifies the maximum amount of funds that the borrower can request from the lender. These amounts are usually based on the estimated costs of that phase of the project.

By using a draw schedule, construction lenders can monitor the progress of the project and ensure that funds are allocated appropriately.

Interest Payments

During the construction phase of a construction loan, instead of making full monthly payments that cover both the principal amount borrowed and the interest accrued on the loan, the borrower is typically required to make monthly payments that only cover the interest portion of the loan. These payments are based on the outstanding balance of the loan at that time.

Because you are only paying interest during the construction phase, the monthly payments are typically lower than they would be if they were also required to pay down the principal. This can be advantageous for you as it reduces your financial burden during the construction period when you may also be incurring other construction-related expenses.

It is important to note that the interest payments made during the construction phase do not reduce the overall cost of the loan but rather cover the cost of borrowing the funds. The unpaid interest accumulates and is added to the principal balance when principal payments begin.

Construction Phase

In a construction loan arrangement, the borrower uses the funds provided by the lender to cover the various costs associated with the construction project, including materials, labor, and other construction-related expenses.

As each designated stage of construction is completed, the borrower submits a formal draw request to the lender. This request includes documentation, such as invoices from contractors, receipts for materials, and any other relevant financial records that demonstrate the expenses incurred for that specific construction phase.

If the lender is satisfied with the progress and the documentation provided by the borrower, they approve the draw request, and the funds are disbursed to the borrower. These funds are then used to cover the costs associated with the completed construction stage and to prepare for the next phase of construction.


Lenders often require regular inspections to verify that the work is progressing as planned before releasing funds for the next stage of construction. They want to ensure that the construction work meets the agreed-upon quality standards and adheres to local building codes and regulations. Regular inspections help identify any issues or deficiencies in the construction process that need to be addressed promptly.

Inspections provide a way to verify that the funds requested by the borrower in each draw request are genuinely needed for the completed work. This helps prevent misuse of loan funds and ensures that the borrower is not overborrowing.

Also, lenders use inspections to assess the progress of the construction project and confirm that it is moving forward according to the agreed-upon timeline. If there are delays or issues, the lender can work with the borrower to address them.


Once the construction is complete, the loan is typically converted into a permanent mortgage loan. This process may involve refinancing the loan into a longer-term mortgage or simply rolling the balance into a standard mortgage.

Refinancing the construction loan means the borrower secures a separate permanent mortgage loan from a lender to pay off the remaining balance of the loan. The permanent mortgage loan is often a traditional fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage with a longer-term repayment period such as 15, 20, or 30 years. This process is essentially a refinance transaction, and the borrower goes through the typical mortgage application and approval process.

On the other hand, rolling the balance into a standard mortgage means the construction loan agreement may include provisions that allow the borrower to seamlessly transition the remaining balance of the loan into a standard mortgage with the same lender. This approach eliminates the need for a separate mortgage application and approval process.


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