how do commercial construction loans work

Commercial Construction Loans: A Complete Guide to Funding Projects

Commercial construction loans are a type of financing used to fund the construction of commercial properties such as office buildings, retail centers, industrial facilities, and large residential multi-unit projects. These loans are different from traditional commercial mortgages, as they are specifically designed for the construction phase of a project.

In this article, we will explore the basics of commercial construction loans, including how they work, the requirements for obtaining one, and the benefits and risks associated with them.

How do commercial construction loans work?

Commercial construction loans are typically short-term loans that cover the costs of constructing a commercial property. Typically, banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions offer these loans, and the construction site serves as security. The loan is disbursed in stages, known as "draws," as the construction progresses. The borrower is only responsible for paying interest on the amount that has been drawn, rather than the entire loan amount.

Once the construction is complete, the borrower must pay off the loan in full or refinance it with a traditional commercial mortgage. This is known as the "takeout" phase of the loan. The takeout phase is crucial, as it allows the borrower to secure long-term financing to pay off the construction loan and continue owning the property.

Construction Budget

Before applying for a commercial construction loan, it is essential to have a detailed construction budget in place. The budget should include all costs associated with the project, including land acquisition, permits, labor, materials, and any other expenses. Lenders will carefully review the budget to ensure that the loan amount is sufficient to cover all costs and that the project is financially feasible.

Types of Commercial Construction Loans:

Project Development Loans

Project Development Loans are like financial tools that really help businesses do big projects. These loans are made to fit the special needs of different projects, giving them the money they need to start, grow, or finish up in all sorts of industries. Whether a business is building something new, using fancy technology, or launching cool products, these loans are a big help.

They have flexible rules and good interest rates, making them work well with the changing plans of projects and money stuff. Businesses celebrating one year can use project development loans to keep growing and trying new things, making sure money doesn't get in the way of their success journey.

Commercial Construction Loans

When it comes to getting money for commercial construction projects, businesses often have a few options: banks, the Small Business Administration (SBA), or private investors. Each choice has its pros and cons. Banks usually offer traditional loans with set terms and interest rates. The SBA provides loans with government backing, which can be helpful for businesses that might not qualify for regular bank loans.

Private investors, on the other hand, might offer more flexibility but could ask for a stake in the project or higher interest rates. Deciding between these options often depends on the specific needs and circumstances of the construction project and the business seeking funding.

Renovation Construction Loans

Ideal for those looking to renovate existing properties, renovation construction loans provide the necessary financing for upgrading and modernizing structures. This type of loan considers the unique challenges posed by renovation projects, such as working with older buildings or addressing unexpected issues that may arise during the renovation process.

Requirements for Obtaining a Commercial Construction Loan

Obtaining a commercial construction loan can be a complex process, and lenders have strict requirements for borrowers. Here are some of the key requirements for obtaining a commercial construction loan:

Strong Credit Score and Financial History

Lenders will review the borrower's credit score and financial history to determine their creditworthiness. A strong credit score and a history of responsible financial management will increase the chances of obtaining a commercial construction loan.

Detailed Construction Plan

Lenders will want to see a detailed construction plan that outlines the scope of the project, the timeline, and the budget. The plan should also include information about the borrower's experience and qualifications to complete the project successfully.

Down Payment

Most lenders require a down payment of at least 20% of the total project cost. This shows the lender that the borrower is invested in the project and has the financial means to complete it.


Commercial construction loans are secured by the property being built. This means that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can take possession of the property to recoup their losses. Lenders will carefully assess the value of the property and the borrower's ability to repay the loan before approving a loan.

Why should you consider getting a construction loan?

  1. Buy Equipment and Materials: With a construction loan, you can purchase the necessary materials and equipment for your construction project.

  2. Expand Your Business Facility: If you're a small business owner looking to build a new office or renovate an existing one, a construction loan can help you finance the project.

  3. Hire and Train Employees: Use the funds from a construction loan to bring in new employees for your construction needs. You can also cover their education and training costs with the loan.

  4. Recover from Damage or Disasters: If your office or commercial property suffers damage from an unexpected event like an earthquake, a construction loan can assist you in making the necessary repairs.

How do you get a construction loan?

Construction loans are harder to get than regular mortgages. Lenders see them as risky because there is no collateral to secure the loan. So, if you want to apply for a construction loan, you'll need to meet some tough requirements. Here's what most lenders ask for:

  1. Down payment: You'll need to make a down payment of at least 20% of the total project cost to get a construction loan. This means you'll have to use your own money or assets to start the project before the lender provides more funds. If you already own the land, you can use it toward the down payment. The exact amount will depend on the project cost, land value, and your plans. Lenders require a high down payment to make sure you're committed to the project and won't abandon it if there are problems during construction.

  2. Good credit: Whether you're applying as an individual or a small business, you'll need to show your personal credit history to the lender. They will want to see your personal FICO score and business credit history.

  3. Financial documents: The lender will review your current and past debts, payment history, and any other loans or liens on your property. You'll have to provide financial statements, tax returns, and proof of other assets. This applies whether it's for your own home or a small business project.

  4. Builder's reputation: If you're working with a builder, the lender will scrutinize their reputation. They will look at reviews from vendors, subcontractors, and online sources, as well as the builder's work history. Make sure your builder can provide evidence of their good reputation, along with detailed project plans and cost estimates.

  5. Detailed plans: You must have specific building plans, construction contracts, and cost estimates ready to qualify for a construction loan.

  6. Appraisal: Appraising something that doesn't exist yet can be challenging. Construction lenders work with appraisers to assess your project. They compare it to similar existing constructions and estimate its future worth. A good appraisal increases your chances of loan approval. Your lender will likely conduct their appraisal, but you can also get an independent one if you prefer.

The first step is to get construction financing.

If you want to get financing for your construction project, there are a few things you should consider. You can choose between banks, online lenders, brokers, and subcontractors to help you with the process. However, it's important to choose the right partners because the wrong ones can cause delays and complications.

Here are some recommendations for starting:

  1. Look for the right lender: Shop around and find a lender that offers the options you need. Some lenders may not offer construction loans, while others may have limited options that you don't need. Check with local banks and credit unions to see what kind of construction financing they offer and what options are available to you. If you're still unsure, ask your local Chamber of Commerce for a referral to a Construction Loan Broker. A broker is an expert in construction loans and can help you find the right lender based on your requirements and budget. They may even be able to negotiate better rates for you. Brokers understand both the financial and construction sides of the loan.

  2. Confirm the lender's experience: Make sure to choose a lender with experience in construction financing. Ask them about their past construction projects and if they can provide references from other developers they've helped.

  3. Tap into your network and local community: If you're looking for help with a construction loan, start by asking your network for recommendations. You can also reach out to local banks and financial institutions that you have a good relationship with.

These steps will help you find the right financing for your construction project.

Benefits of Commercial Construction Loans

Commercial construction loans offer several benefits for borrowers, including:


Commercial construction loans are highly customizable, allowing borrowers to tailor the loan to their specific needs. This includes choosing the loan term, interest rate, and repayment schedule.

Lower Interest Rates

Compared to traditional commercial mortgages, commercial construction loans typically have lower interest rates. This is because the property under construction serves as security for the loan, lowering the lender's risk.

Control Over the Project

Since the borrower is responsible for managing the construction process, they have more control over the project's timeline and budget. This allows them to make decisions that can save time and money, ultimately increasing the project's profitability.

Risks of Commercial Construction Loans

While commercial construction loans offer many benefits, they also come with some risks, including:

Higher Interest Rates During Construction

During the construction phase, borrowers are only responsible for paying interest on the amount that has been drawn. However, the interest rates during this phase are typically higher than those of traditional commercial mortgages.

Potential Delays and Cost Overruns

Construction projects are complex and can be subject to delays and cost overruns. If this happens, the borrower may need to secure additional financing to complete the project, which can be challenging and costly.

Takeout Risk

The takeout phase of a commercial construction loan is crucial, as it allows the borrower to secure long-term financing to pay off the loan. If the borrower is unable to secure this financing, they may be forced to sell the property or refinance the loan at a higher interest rate.

Commercial Lending USA Alternatives to Construction Loans

Commercial Lending USA is an option for small business owners who want financing for their construction projects. If traditional construction loans don't fit your needs, consider Commercial Lending USA.

Commercial Lending USA offers approved business owners access to funding, up to $100,000, in a simple way. They are well-rated on TrustPilot and have won awards for their customer service.

It's easy to sign up and get a credit decision. Just connect your bank account and approved accounting software or just your bank account. You can expect a credit decision in a few hours, and if approved, funds can be accessed in one business day.

Once approved for Commercial Lending USA, you can use the funds as you need, as long as you repay them on a 12 or 24-week schedule. Fees are only charged based on the quantity used.

If you're still unsure about which option is best for your construction project, we can help. Contact us for assistance.


Commercial construction loans are an essential tool for developers looking to build commercial properties. They offer flexibility, lower interest rates, and control over the project, but they also come with risks such as higher interest rates during construction and the potential for delays and cost overruns.

If you are considering a commercial construction loan, it is crucial to carefully assess the risks and requirements before moving forward. With proper planning and a solid construction plan, a commercial construction loan can help you bring your commercial property project to life.

Sam Haq, CEO

Commercial Lending USA

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