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Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Financing is a necessity for many general contractors who have to manage cash flow on multiple projects. And from a business credit card you use for everyday supplies to a loan you take out before the start of your largest building project yet, contractor loans can come in a variety of forms.
As you consider your options for a contractor or commercial construction loan, keep these five questions in mind. They can help you evaluate your options and make sure you get the best possible financing for your situation.
To avoid confusion, note that these questions are for construction companies that are looking for financing. They’re not for individuals who need a loan to build or remodel a home, or for small businesses that are taking out a loan to build or remodel a commercial property.
There are different types of loans for general contractors, and different forms of financing may be best depending on why you need the money.
For example, if you need a working capital loan to cover expenses while you quickly expand, you might be looking for a term loan that will give you a lump sum payout that you repay with fixed monthly payments. However, if you only need to float a little money between progress payments, a business line of credit or credit card might be a better fit.
Similarly, consider your timeline and how quickly you need the money. The Small Business Administration (SBA) partners with traditional lenders, such as banks and community development organizations, and offers large loans with favorable rates. However, the application and funding process can take months, making it not the ideal type of contractor funding for those on a brief timeline.
By contrast, you may be able to complete an online lender’s application in minutes and get a contractor loan within a couple of days or weeks. Even if the loan is a little more expensive, it may be the best option if you need to borrow money right away.
If you’re looking for contractor funding for a specific project, a construction loan (rather than a more general small loan for your construction business) may make the most sense. One example could be a loan that’s structured so you receive enough money to cover your estimated expenses before the start of a project and make interest-only payments while you’re building. Once you complete the project, you’ll make full principal and interest payments.
After deciding what type of contractor funding you’ll ideally use, start to look at different lenders and see how their loans’ terms differ. You likely won’t know your specific offer until after you apply and the lender reviews your application, business details, and credit. However, you can still narrow in the best options for your circumstances by asking a few general questions:
Lenders may charge a variety. Some of these may sound familiar if you’ve taken out a personal loan or small business loan before, but others are less common outside of the construction business financing environment.
The fee type and amount can depend on the lender and your creditworthiness. Here are a few of the ones you should look for as you consider a contractor loan:
As you’re comparing the terms of the loans for contractors, also try to review each lender’s requirements to be certain that you can qualify for a loan. Some lenders may list minimum credit scores for the business or business’s owners, require your business has a certain amount of revenue, or only offer contractor loans to companies that have been in business for several years.
Some lenders might not share all of their requirements or list everything online. If you think you’ve found a good financing option, you could call (or visit a local branch if you’ve decided on a bank or credit union) the lender to ask additional questions.
Sometimes you need money to make money and contractor funding can help your company grow. But before you sign the loan agreement, take a step back and make sure the repayment terms work for your business.
It may be better to pass on a job than to put your company and employees in danger by taking out contractor loans that will squeeze you too tightly. Or, you may need to keep looking to find a lender that will offer a similar amount of money with more favorable terms.
Funding Circle offers contractor loans and financing. You can take six months to five years to repay the loan, and competitive interest rates. You can complete the entire process online, with an application taking just 10 minutes and a decision being made as soon as 24 hours after you submit the required documents.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.