How Does a Construction Mortgage Work

construction mortgages canada

Constructing a steel building is an exciting and rewarding venture, whether it’s for personal use as a garage or workshop, a house, or for agricultural and commercial purposes like warehouses and manufacturing facilities. One of the most integral parts of construction is securing financing. In Canada, construction mortgages are a popular and viable option for financing your steel building project. This article will explain how construction mortgages work in Canada, the process, and the key differences between construction mortgages and traditional mortgages.

How to Obtain a Construction Mortgage in Canada

1. Find an Expert

The first step in obtaining a construction mortgage is to find a mortgage broker or mortgage loan officer who is experienced in construction financing. They can help guide you through the construction mortgage process and find the best options available to you. Credit unions, banks, and private lenders are all potential sources of construction loans.

2. Determine Your Construction Loan Eligibility

To be eligible for a construction mortgage, you’ll need to provide various documents and financial statements to the lender. These may include a detailed construction plan, a budget for the project, proof of income, and your credit history. Most lenders will also require a down payment, which can vary depending on the total mortgage amount and the lender’s requirements.

3. Submit Your Mortgage Application

Once you’ve put together all the necessary documents, you can submit your mortgage application. Your application will get reviewed by the lender and, if approved, provide you with a loan amount and interest rate. It’s crucial to not settle on a lender until you compare interest rates and terms from different lenders. This will allow you to find the best fit for your construction project.

4. Obtain Necessary Building Permits

building permitsBefore you get started on construction, you will have to get the appropriate building permits for your project. This may include permits for excavation and foundation work, seasonal and exterior work, and any other necessary permits specific to your construction project. Your general contractor or home builder will be able to help you understand which permits you need and how to apply for them.

Construction Mortgage Types

There are two main types of construction mortgages in Canada: builder’s mortgages and self-build mortgages.

1. Builder’s Mortgage

A builder’s mortgage is designed for borrowers who are working with a general contractor or home builder to construct their steel building. With this type of construction loan, the lender will typically release funds directly to the contractor at various stages of the project, known as draws.

2. Self-Build Mortgage

A self-build mortgage is ideal for borrowers who plan to manage the construction project themselves or act as the general contractor. This type of loan allows the borrower to access secured funds throughout the construction process as needed, giving them more control over their project’s finances.

Key Elements of a Construction Mortgage

1. Down Payment Requirements

industrial steel buildingsThe down payment required for a construction mortgage is dependent on the financial situation of both the lender and the borrower. Generally, borrowers can expect to provide a down payment of at least 20% to 25% of the total project cost. In some cases, if a borrower has a low credit score or is considered “high-risk” lenders may require a larger down payment.

2. Interest Rates and Payment Options

Construction mortgage interest rates can be either fixed or variable, and they tend to be higher than those for conventional mortgages. This is because construction loans are considered riskier for lenders due to the uncertainties that can arise during the construction process. Borrowers typically only pay interest on the outstanding balance during the construction phase, with monthly payments increasing as more funds are drawn from the loan.

3. Draw Schedule and Progress Inspections

The draw schedule is a timeline for when funds will be released to the borrower or contractor during the construction process. Draws are typically made after specific milestones are reached, such as the completion of excavation and foundation work, framing, or weather-protected stages. Before each draw is released, a progress inspection is conducted by an appraiser or inspector to ensure the construction is on track and meeting the predetermined milestones. This helps protect both the borrower and the lender from potential financial risks and ensures the project stays on budget.

Construction Mortgage vs. Traditional Mortgage

1. Separate Loan vs. Permanent Mortgage

A construction mortgage is a separate loan from a traditional mortgage. Once the build is done, the borrower will need to secure a permanent mortgage to pay off the original loan. In certain instances, the construction loan can be changed into a conventional mortgage after the project is completed. This loan change is called a “construction-to-permanent” loan.

2. Interest Rates and Terms

As mentioned earlier, construction mortgage interest rates tend to be higher than those for conventional mortgages. Additionally, the terms for construction loans are generally shorter, with most loans needing to be repaid within one year of the project’s completion. This encourages borrowers to complete the construction in a timely manner and transition to a permanent mortgage.

3. Eligibility and Requirements

While both construction mortgages and traditional mortgages require borrowers to meet specific eligibility criteria, construction loans often have more stringent requirements. This may include providing detailed construction plans, a larger down payment, and a higher credit score. It’s essential to carefully review the eligibility requirements for both types of loans to determine which option is best for your project.


1. How much down payment is needed for a construction mortgage?

The down payment required for a construction mortgage is determined by the lender’s and the borrower’s financial situation. Generally, borrowers can expect to provide a down payment of at least 20% to 25% of the total project cost.

2. How do construction loans work in comparison to conventional mortgages?

Construction loans are short-term loans used to pay for the construction of a building, while conventional mortgages are long-term loans used to purchase an existing home. Construction loans have higher interest rates, shorter terms, and a draw schedule tied to the project’s progress. Once the construction process is over, the borrower will need to secure a permanent mortgage to pay off the original construction loan.

3. What is a draw mortgage and how does it differ from a completion mortgage?

A draw mortgage is a type of construction loan where funds are released to the borrower or contractor at various stages of the construction process. This ensures that the build runs according to the timeline and remains on budget. A completion mortgage, on the other hand, is a type of loan where the full amount is released to the borrower once the construction is completed and the final inspection has been passed.

4. Can I get a construction mortgage for my own house or just commercial projects?

Construction mortgages are available for both residential and commercial projects, including constructing your own house. The process and requirements for obtaining a construction mortgage for a residential project may differ slightly from those for a commercial project, but the basic principles remain the same.

5. What are the common difficulties during the construction mortgage process?

Some common challenges borrowers may face during the construction mortgage process include securing a sufficient down payment, meeting the lender’s eligibility requirements, and navigating the draw schedule and progress inspections. Working with an experienced mortgage broker or loan officer can help alleviate these challenges and ensure a smoother construction financing process.

6. How can I manage construction costs and living expenses during the construction period?

Managing construction costs and living expenses during the construction period can be challenging. It’s essential to create a detailed budget that accounts for both the project costs and your personal finances. To minimize financial stress, consider setting aside an emergency fund for unexpected expenses (not living expenses, only) and seeking temporary housing solutions that won’t strain your budget, such as renting a smaller place or staying with family or friends. Additionally, working closely with your contractor to establish a realistic construction timeline can help you better plan your finances during the construction period.


commercial office buildingUnderstanding how construction mortgages work in Canada is essential for anyone considering building a steel structure. By following the steps outlined in this article and working with a knowledgeable mortgage broker or loan officer, you can secure the financing needed to bring your dream steel building to life. Keep in mind the different types of construction mortgages, key elements, and the differences between construction mortgages and traditional mortgages. With careful planning, research, and the right construction financing, you can successfully navigate the construction mortgage process and create a steel building that meets your personal tastes and needs, whether it’s for residential, agricultural buildings, or commercial use.

Remember to consider the down payment requirements, interest rates, and draw schedules when selecting the best construction mortgage for your project. By staying informed and prepared, you’ll be well on your way to constructing the steel building of your dreams in Canada.