VA Construction Loan Guide: Requirements and Process

April 26, 2024 - 10 min read

Can I build a house with no money down?

Are you seeking to build a new home from the ground up? Are you an active-duty service member or veteran? If so, you may qualify for a VA construction loan, sometimes called a VA construction-to-permanent loan.

This loan can finance everything from the land purchase and construction to a permanent mortgage for the finished residence. And, as with all VA mortgages, there’s zero down payment required for eligible borrowers.

The catch? VA construction loan lenders can be hard to find. Read on to learn what’s required, how to qualify, and if a VA new construction loan is right for you.

Check your construction loan eligibility

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What is a VA construction loan?

If you are an active duty service member or veteran with eligible military service history — or a surviving spouse — you may be able to take advantage of a generous loan program provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: the VA construction loan.

Check your construction loan eligibility

For eligible borrowers, a VA construction loan can simplify the process of building your dream home.

“The advantages of a VA construction loan include no down payment required for fully entitled veterans, 640 minimum credit scores, and no private mortgage insurance required on the VA one-time close, which is completed in one loan versus up to three for the traditional route,” says Richie Duncan, division manager with

And, the VA construction loan is flexible. Financing can be used for:

  1. The total cost of purchasing a lot, constructing a home on it, and financing the permanent mortgage on the residence once it’s finished. With this option, there is only one underwriting process, one appraisal, one set of closing costs, and a single closing. This is known as a VA one-time close construction loan
  2. The combined costs of buying land and building a house on it, after which your VA construction loan can be refinanced to a separate permanent VA mortgage loan. With this option, a single appraisal and single closing are involved with the short-term loan, but a separate underwriting process, appraisal, and closing costs are required for the permanent VA mortgage loan
  3. The construction of the home on land you already own or are financing separately, after which your VA construction loan can be refinanced to a separate permanent VA mortgage loan. As with option two, there’s a single appraisal and closing for the VA construction loan, but a separate underwriting process, appraisal, fee, and closing are needed for the permanent VA mortgage loan

The only problem is, finding VA construction loan lenders is tricky. If you can’t find a willing lender, you may have to pursue alternative financing options instead.

The VA construction loan process

The VA construction loan process involves a series of steps, according to Julie Aragon, CEO and founder of the Julie Aragon Lending Team:

Check your construction loan eligibility

  1. Your entitlement to VA benefits is verified by obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and providing personal financial information to the mortgage lender. Prepare to collect and review copies of current credit reports, proof of income, statements of current bank and investment accounts, and other financial documents the lender may request
  2. Find a lender that offers VA construction loans and get pre-approved. Note that the VA does not lend directly, so you will have to search for a private lender offering this program
  3. Choose a VA-approved builder/general contractor that is properly licensed and approved by the VA and submit your home construction building plans to the lender
  4. Have a VA appraisal of the property completed
  5. Have the completed home inspected according to VA standards and complete the closing process
  6. If your VA construction loan does not include a permanent mortgage loan component, you’ll need to refinance to a VA home loan once the home is built

“Note that, for VA construction loans, disbursement of the funds to pay for the building of the home occurs in a series of installments, or ‘draws,’ at certain milestones as the construction phrases progresses,” explains Aragon.

VA construction loan requirements

When it comes to VA home loan requirements, there are several guidelines for the borrower, the contractor, and the home being built.

Check your construction loan eligibility

Borrower eligibility requirements

First, you need a decent credit score.

“While VA guidelines do not specify that borrowers have a minimum credit score or meet other financial criteria, most actual VA loan lenders will. To improve your eligibility chances, aim for a minimum credit score in the 620 to 640 range,” Aragon recommends.

In addition:

  • Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) should be below 41%
  • You must meet income requirements based on the size of your family
  • You must not have experienced bankruptcy in the last two years
  • You need stable income and employment; you must be able to comfortably afford mortgage payments

Prepare to verify two years of income when applying for a VA construction loan.

For W-2 borrowers, gather the last 60 days of pay stubs, the last two years of W-2s, and your last two annual tax returns. Self-employed borrowers should collect the last two years of full personal and business tax returns as well as all tax schedules involved.

Property requirements

The home being built needs to meet certain requirements, too, including:

  • The finished home must be owner-occupied as your primary residence
  • The types of homes eligible to be built include single-family homes, condominium units in approved projects or legal phases, and manufactured homes
  • Your total loan amount for construction/the permanent mortgage must not exceed $ for most US counties in 2024
  • The property must be located in a VA-approved area and must not exceed VA maximum land limitations, such as 10 acres
  • The property must be inspected by a professional approved by the VA

“Keep in mind that respective local regulations will dictate the property requirements for your VA construction loan,” notes Dan Holtz, co-founder and CEO of Sovereign Lending Group.

Lender/contractor requirements

And, finally, there are limitations around which mortgage lender and contractor you can work with.

  • You must choose a VA-approved mortgage lender that participates in the VA construction loan program
  • The VA must approve of your chosen contractors. “They are required to have needed licensure, liability insurance, and a minimum of two years of experience building homes,” Duncan says
  • You must receive a new construction warranty from the home builder

Finally, any remaining funds after construction ends must be applied directly toward your loan principal. You can’t receive cash-back from this type of loan.

VA construction loan lenders

Be aware: It may be challenging to find VA construction loans or lenders offering these loans.

Check your construction loan eligibility

“Many lenders offer standard VA home loans for those purchasing existing residences. But fewer provide VA construction loans,” cautions Aragon.

“Also, the VA has traditionally provided limited guidance regarding its construction loans, which translates to widespread uncertainty and a lack of familiarity with lenders’ guidelines and requirements,” she continues.

The good news is, you can visit the VA’s website to search for VA-approved lenders. However, not all VA lenders offer VA construction loans. So be prepared to contact multiple companies until you find one that does.

VA construction loan interest rates

Another caveat is that you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate for a VA construction loan than you will for a standard VA mortgage loan.

Check your construction loan eligibility

“That’s because participating lenders view home construction loans as being somewhat more of a risk,” explains Aragon.

Interest rates for construction loans are typically at least 1% higher than standard mortgage rates.

“Unlike a mortgage loan on an existing home, there is no finished property that serves as collateral. So expect the VA loan interest rate to be a bit higher — typically 1% higher or more, although the rate you are quoted may vary.”

Another reason your rate may be higher? “A long-term rate lock is required, which may result in a higher interest rate,” says Holtz.

Other construction financing options

If you don’t qualify for a VA construction loan or can’t find a participating lender, you’re not out of luck. There are other financing options you can pursue for your new home.

Check your construction loan eligibility

For example, you could obtain a separate lot loan to buy the land and a traditional construction loan to pay for the construction expenses, followed by a separate VA home loan to finance the permanent finished residence.

“The drawback with this approach is that you will have separate underwriting, appraisals, closings, and fees, and your non-VA construction loan will probably require a down payment,” says Duncan.

Or, you can pursue an FHA construction-to-permanent loan, which combines the lot purchase, construction costs, and permanent mortgage financing on the completed house into one loan with one appraisal and a single closing. However, you likely have to put down at least 3.5% to 10% and pay private mortgage insurance upfront and annually.

Alternatively, if you choose a USDA-approved rural area to construct a home in, you may be eligible for a USDA construction-to-permanent loan. These also require no down payment and combine the lot purchase, construction costs, and permanent mortgage loan into one loan product.

Lastly, instead of building a new construction home, home buyers might consider purchasing a fixer-upper.

You could pay for the home and the rehab involved with a VA renovation loan or other home improvement loan.

The bottom line: Check all your options

Whichever route you choose, make sure you explore all your options.

Even though construction loans are a bit harder to come by, you still want to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best loan type and interest rate available to you. Be sure to speak with your loan officer about available options.

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VA construction loan FAQ

Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you

What is a VA construction loan?

A VA construction loan is a type of mortgage that allows qualifying veterans and active-duty military personnel to finance the construction of a new home.

Who is eligible for a VA construction loan?

Eligibility for a VA construction loan is available to veterans, active-duty service members, and some surviving spouses who meet the specific requirements set by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

How does a VA construction loan work?

A construction loans work by providing a loan guarantee from the VA to lenders, which allows veterans to secure financing for the construction of their homes.

What are the benefits of a VA construction loan?

he benefits of a VA construction loan include no down payment requirements, competitive interest rates, no private mortgage insurance (PMI), and flexible qualification guidelines.

What are the steps involved in obtaining a VA construction loan?

The steps typically include getting pre-qualified, finding a lender experienced in VA construction loans, selecting a VA-registered builder, acquiring necessary permits, and undergoing the appraisal and closing processes.

Can a VA construction loan be used for renovations or remodels?

No, VA construction loans are specifically designed for new construction only. However, there are other VA loan programs available for home renovations or improvements.

Are there specific requirements or limitations for a VA construction loan?

es, there are specific requirements such as having a valid VA Certificate of Eligibility, meeting construction timelines, using approved builders, and ensuring compliance with local building codes.

How does the disbursement process work for a VA construction loan?

Disbursements for a VA construction loan are typically made in scheduled increments as construction progresses, following inspection and approval of completed work.

What are the additional costs and fees associated with a VA construction loan?

Additional costs may include origination fees, closing costs, and certain fees related to the construction process. It’s important to discuss these details with the lender.

Can I use a VA construction loan to build on land that I already own?

Yes, you can use a VA construction loan to build on land you already own, as long as it meets the necessary criteria and requirements set by the VA.

Erik J. Martin
Authored By: Erik J. Martin
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Erik J. Martin has written on real estate, business, tech and other topics for Reader's Digest, AARP The Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.
Aleksandra Kadzielawski
Updated By: Aleksandra Kadzielawski
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Aleksandra is the Senior Editor at The Mortgage Reports, where she brings 10 years of experience in mortgage and real estate to help consumers discover the right path to homeownership. Aleksandra received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. She is also a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).