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Buy and Renovate Your Next Home

Buy and Renovate a House

by Gary R. Crum

Buy and Renovate

construction renovation

You might consider purchasing a house with renovation in mind. This is an excellent way to purchase an otherwise unsuitable house. For example because of the scarcity of waterfront property, older homes on the water are frequently purchased with renovation as a goal.

Or, if you have your heart set on a pool, you can add a pool later by including the cost of the pool in your purchase loan. While not all lenders will finance future improvements, with a few phone calls you can find one that does. Renovation construction loan

Loan Value

The lender's appraiser will review your plans and assign a value to your house that will reflect the improvements to be made. Your finished house should be comparable to neighboring homes, or else the cost of the improvements might exceed the appraised value In such instances the lender will base the loan on the appraised value and you would have funds for the difference.

Renovation Process

How do construction and rehab loans work? When the lender makes a loan in an amount greater than the purchase price or appraised value of a house, the lender does not disburse all of the funds at closing. Instead, the lender will hold back the funds necessary to pay for the work to be done. Let's say you want to add a pool and the best estimate you get for a screened pool is from Deep Pool Co. at $16,000.


If you have enough equity in your house, you can probably borrow all the money you need in one lump sum. If the loan is based on the value of the house after the pool is added, the lender will give you "draws" on the loan amount. This means that when the pool contractor completes the first steps of building the pool, the lender will give you or the contractor part of the loan proceeds. The lender will want to assure that all sub contractors have been paid, by requiring paid bills or "releases" be signed by the sub contractors before disbursing a draw.


Typically a pool loan will be funded in three or four draws. The first draw may be for 25% of the cost. This might include digging the hole, removing the dirt, and reinforcing and guniting the pool.

The next 25% might include the rough pool deck, tile and marciting. The next 25% covers the final deck coating, pool pump and finished plumbing. The last draw would include the screen enclosure and a final inspection by the local government officials for conformance with codes.

Building a new house works much the same way. Draws are given as work is completed. The lender will inspect each phase of completion and release a portion of the loan proceeds.

Construction Disbursements

Construction loans and rehabilitation loans share some of common ground. Whether you finance the work through a lender or pay for it with your own money, it is always prudent to disburse your money only as work is completed. It is never a good idea to pay the full amount up front since the incentive for the contractor to perform is greatly diminished. You should also require the contractor to sign a "no lien affidavit" at time of completion of the work. This affidavit helps assure you that all sub contractors have been paid and will not file a lien on the house. A lien is a claim against your property. If a lien is placed on your property you will not be able to refinance or sell your home until you pay off the lien amount. Many times a contractor will hire another contractor to do some of the work. You might not know about this other contractor, but that contractor could still put a lien on your house if he or she is not paid.


Since lien laws may allow such liens to be filed up to ninety days after work has been completed a lien may be filed after the work is finished. Your only recourse would be to sue the contractor and hope you can recover some money. Depending on the circumstances, title insurance may or may not cover the liens.

Because of the complexity of construction and home improvement loans and the potential risk of liens, it is wise to consult with a real estate attorney before entering into a remodeling contract or a construction loan. It is also smart to check out your contractor with other customers and local consumer complaint agencies.

Licenses and Permits

Remember too, that all contractors must be licensed for the type of work they do. And that almost all construction work is going to require permits from the city or county. Failure to obtain such permits can result in costly penalties.

Construction Draw Schedule

Loan Assumption Agreement

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