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Custom Home Loans: What Are Your Options?

Custom home loans are critical for many people who aspire to build their dream home. Roughly 70% of custom homes utilize loans. However, financing the construction of a custom home can be a complicated process. We’ll do our best to make sure you understand the loan options for your custom home, what impacts the approval process, the benefits/challenges and finally some helpful tips.

banker home loan

Understanding Construction Loans

Very simply, construction loans are short-term loans specifically designed to fund the construction of a new home. Unlike traditional mortgages, which provide a lump sum upfront, construction loans are typically paid out in installments as the project progresses and the home is built. These loans are temporary and are replaced by a long-term mortgage once the construction and home are completed.

Types of Construction Loans

There are several types and variations of construction loans. Below are the most common:

  • Construction-to-Permanent Loans: This type which is commonly referred to as CP Loans are a single close construction loan. That means is covers both the loan to be used for construction and then it converts into a traditional loan once construction is completed. Borrowers only have to pay for closing costs once, making it a convenient, cost-efficient option.

  • Construction-Only Loans: This type of loan, or two-close loans, require borrowers to secure separate financing for the construction phase and another loan for the permanent loan. These loans are suitable for individuals who have mortgage preapproval in place.

  • Asset Secured Loans: This type of loan uses the borrowers investment portfolio as collateral to secure a line of credit that is then used for the construction and if needed, the long term loan.

construction-to-perm loan

Factors influencing Loan Approval

Here are some of the factors that lenders will evaluate when considering your loan application.

  • Credit Score: A solid credit score is essential when applying for a construction loan. Lenders use credit scores to assess the borrower’s creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan. The higher the better, but 720 or better should be the goal.

  • Down Payment: Lenders typically require a significant down payment for construction loans of anywhere from 20-30% of the project cost. A higher down payment can increase the chances of loan approval and may result in better loan terms.

  • Construction Plan and Budget: A detailed construction plan and budget are crucial for loan approval. Lenders want assurance that the project is well-planned, and the budget is realistic. Working with architects and contractors to create a comprehensive plan is essential.

  • Approved Builder: Working with a builder that has been approved by the lender is critical. Approved builders have had their financial health and building history reviewed by the lender, which minimizes risks.

  • Loan-to-Value Ratio: Lenders assess loan-to-value ratio, which compares the loan amount to the appraised value of the completed home. A lower loan-to-value ratio reduces the lender’s risk and may result in more favorable loan terms.

Interest Rates and Loan Terms

Construction loan interest rates can vary on market conditions, the borrower’s creditworthiness, and the lender’s policies. Interest rates for construction loans are often higher than those for traditional mortgages due to the short-term nature of the loan. Borrowers can choose sometimes choose between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate construction loans, but typically construction loan rates are adjustable and float based on some index such as the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate. For example, rates will be quoted as WSJ Prime PLUS .50%, so depending on how the WSJ Prime rate changes, your construction loan rate will also change each month.

Construction Loan Benefits & Challenges


  • Customization: Depending on what type of loan you choose, being able to customize the type of permanent loan you want after the home is completed can be very favorable

  • Potential Cost Savings: Having the flexibility to avoid duplicate closing costs can be quite a cost saving.

  • Flexibility: Having the flexibility to lock and re-lock the permanent interest rates can be a big benefit


  • Complexity: Construction loans are more complex than traditional mortgages, requiring careful planning and coordination between the borrower, builder, and lender

  • Approval Criteria: Meeting the lender’s strict criteria, including credit score, down payment, and project documentation, can be challenging.

  • Interest Rate Volatility: Interest rates for construction loans can be volatile, impacting the overall cost of the project.


Construction of a custom home is a rewarding endeavor that offers homeowners the opportunity to bring your dream home to life. Construction loans are often a necessity of this process. Loans serve as a vital financial tool, providing you with the necessary funding to turn your home plans into a reality. By understanding the various options, the factors influencing approval, interest rates, and loan terms, you can navigate the complex process of financing your custom home with confidence. With careful planning collaboration with professionals and a clear understanding of the loan terms, aspiring homeowners can embark on their construction journey, building not just a house, but a place you can call home.


“I have known Jon for many years. He and his team at Owners’ Ace are an invaluable resource to anyone looking to design and build a custom home. Having their assistance makes a complex process so much easier and successful. I recommend Owners’ Ace to my clients and to anyone looking to build their dream home.”

BG Holmberg, Top Custom Home Realtor in Tampa Bay Area

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