A construction loan can help you finance the building of your dream home. You will also get the flexibility to decide how large of a loan is needed and how it should be structured. With construction loans, payments become due throughout the course of the project, which gives you a chance to track and allocate where your money is going.
Researching and comparing lenders can be helpful in finding rates and terms that best fit your needs.
Six Stages Of Construction Loans
This is general information only. Contracts may vary and stages may differ in whole or part from those listed here. Please review the contract from your individual builder and seek professional advice.
Step 1: Clearing Of The Site
Depending on the nature of the land, there may be soil testing, site-levelling and clearing undertaken prior to actual construction.
Step 2: The Slab Or Base Stage
Length: 1-2 weeks
As the name suggests, this is simply when the foundation is laid.
It includes measuring out the design on the site, pouring the footings, under slab drainage, moisture barrier and special mesh for termite protection.
Step 3: Frame Stage
Length: 3-4 weeks
This includes the installation of your internal and external support structure, along with walls, conduit for electrical and plumbing, the roof frame and sheeting, gutters and insulation.
Step 4: Lockup Stage
Length: 4 weeks
It’s at this point where you can literally start “locking up” the property because your windows, doors and remaining walls will be installed.
It’s also safe for plumbers, electricians, cabinet makers and other tradesman to begin fitting out the property.
Step 5: Fit-out Or Fixing Stage
Length: 5-6 weeks
Plumbing, electrical (including lights and powerpoints) and other fixtures and fittings will be installed.
The design features that make the property a home will also be added such as cornices, tiling, cabinets and shelving, reveals and architraves.
Step 6: Practical Completion Stage
Length: 7-8 weeks
This is basically where all painting, installations and detailing have been completed and you’re effectively ready to move in.
Have Surplus Funds On Standby
The lender will release the first drawdown when certain requirements are met, such as you providing them with council approved plans, insurances and building specifications unique to each stage.
However, the builder will typically want a 5% deposit in advance.
You can argue with the lender to advance the funds in lieu of missing documents but the better approach is to simply have extra funds on standby in order to keep the construction moving forward.
What About Additional Work?
Depending on your building contract, your driveway will still need to be poured and landscaping undertaken.
Other additional works may include installing your garage door, a verandah or even a shed.
Again, most building contracts don’t include these additional works (particularly swimming pools, which is a specialty area) so you’ll need to organise your own contractors for these jobs.
Nevertheless, once construction is complete, you generally have 3-6 months to notify the builder of anything else that needs to be fixed or repaired.
During the stages of construction, some aspects of the property can sometimes be overlooked or not completed to a high quality.
Make a list and make the builder aware in one go rather than going back and forth, which can cause delays.
Bear in mind, you may only notice problems during certain times of the year or in certain weather conditions, such as noticing a hole in the roof or a blocked stormwater pipe when it’s raining.
What Happens After My Construction Loan Is Approved?
Let’s imagine that you’ve bought your land and provided all of the relevant documents, including a signed building contract and council approval.
With most lenders, construction will need to start within six months and be complete within 24 months, so it’s important to get started as soon as possible.
The first thing you’ll normally have to do is pay your builder an upfront deposit to cover the initial cost of materials. However, this depends on the building contract you’ve negotiated.
Generally, the deposit will be around 5% of the total building costs.
Your lender can actually cover this cost if you provide the lender with all of the relevant building documents and make it aware of the upfront deposit from the outset.
Nevertheless, once the deposit is paid, the builder will commence the building stages.
When Do I Make Each Progress Payment?
The building contract should detail the progress payment schedule, which in itself should align with the completion of each stage.
In an ideal situation, you’ll receive an invoice from your builder at the end of each stage.
This is known as a “progress claim”.
All you’ll have to do is sign their tax invoice and give the signed invoice to the bank so they can authorise the next drawdown for your construction loan.
Once the builder has been paid for their completed work, they will move on to the next stage of construction.
How Much Do I Pay At Each Stage?
The amount paid at each progress payment stage is based on a percentage of the total costs of completion.
As a general rule, the amount you pay at the different stages of construction is as follows:
- The deposit: 5%
- The slab or base stage: 15%
- Frame stage: 20%
- Lockup stage: 20%
- Fit-out or fixing stage: 30%
- Practical completion stage: 10%
It’s a little different in the Northern Territory:
- The deposit: No more than 5%
- The slab or base stage: 10%
- Frame stage: 20%
- Enclosed stage: 25%
- Fixing stage: 30%
- Practical completion stage: 7%
- Final completion: 3%
Is The Progress Payment Schedule In Your Best Interest?
In most cases, around 90% of the construction loan is drawn down at the lockup stage even though it will still take around 3 months before construction is complete.
That means you’ll basically be making full mortgage repayments even before you actually take possession of your home.
It sounds a bit unfair but remind yourself that you can get a head start by making extra repayments on your home loan (if you’re on a variable interest rate) since you won’t have to worry about paying bills and rates just yet.
Besides that, an alternative payment schedule can actually put you at risk.
In recent years, some builders have been known to increase their early claim percentages and have small percentages at the end of the build.
For example, they may put in progress claims of up to 60% of the total building costs in the first half of construction rather than the latter stages.
This presents a huge risk to you as the client because if your builder were to go out of business, you would have paid too much for the work completed so far.
Your building insurance may not even be able to save you since more money is required to complete your home than is left on the construction loan.
That’s why it’s important to get legal advice before signing a building contract.
Check out the Choosing A Builder page for golden tips on choosing a professional and reputable contractor.
We’re Construction Loan Specialists!
Whether you need a construction loan or you’re looking to release some equity for renovation work, our mortgage brokers understand construction better than most banks!
We can be the professional middle man between your builder and your bank to ensure communication is never lost, the loan and drawdown process is smooth and easy, and you’re kept up-to-date at all the stages of construction.
In that way, you can focus on turning the home of your dreams into a reality.
Call us on 1300 889 743 or complete our free assessment form to speak with one of our specialist mortgage brokers.