Built Technologies, one of the fastest-growing construction finance platforms in the US, announced raising a total of $213 million in 2021, achieving unicorn status and other impressive financial growth metrics for the year, according to a press release earlier this week.
The Series D funding in September 2021, led by TCV, brought Built’s valuation to $1.5 billion and made it the most recent Nashville unicorn. And there are a lot of people joining this Bachelorette party, with the company doubling its headcount to 330 in 2021 and expecting the same in 2022.
Woody Marshall of TCV and Lee Fixel of Addition, who led Built’s Series C, also joined the company’s board as a result of the year’s two funding rounds. The company has now raised over $289.1 million in funding through five funding rounds, with additional investors including Brookfield, Goldman Sachs, Canapi, Nine Four Ventures, Regions, Fifth Wall, NYCA, and Index Ventures.
Built provides construction financing solutions for lenders, builders and contractors, with its platform supporting loan administration, project monitoring, compliance and payment management. The company says its platform reduces the average draw turnaround time from 11 days to just 2.4 days and supports more than 169 North American lenders, spanning over 200,000 commercial, homebuilder, land development and consumer residential projects.
While the fundraise and valuation raise an eye, Built’s released metrics are even more impressive. The company grew its Total Construction Value (TCV) managed by 144% year-over-year, reaching $200 billion managed between lenders and builders.
In addition to the dollar figures, the company has added 61 new financial institutions, hundreds of new contractors and touched 738,961 transactions. It currently has 135,065 loans in process, and as you can see, it is putting a large focus on its fintech services.
“Built’s software serves debt providers, that are financing the improvement of physical collateral, that is secured, in most cases by a first or second deed of trust. So it’s very conventional. It’s a conventional industry, with not much technology,” Built Technologies’ Director of CRE Strategy, Jim Fraser, told FinLedger.
“The lenders are diverse as well. They’re independent mortgage companies doing consumer renovation or owner-occupied homes, to fix and flip debt funds. We also assist hard money lenders and big regulated financial institutions that are financing major commercial buildings, as well as production homebuilders, so it’s all sorts of things inside the industry,” Fraser said.
Due to smaller total volume, Fraser says that loan origination systems in the market have largely avoided construction, leaving them to handle thousands of spreadsheets and project risk management manually.
“Excel is probably our biggest competitor,” Fraser said, believing that there is nobody else in the market providing these services at Build’s size and scale. The range of clients is notable, with Built’s open system accessible to lenders, borrowers, contractors and inspectors alike – on loans ranging from $3,000 to over a billion dollars.
Fraser noted that most of Built’s team is very institutional banking-oriented, and includes high level talent from SunTrust, Wells Fargo and Union Bank. He also joined the company in early 2020, following over 30 years in financial services focusing on construction lending and real estate development.
Handling construction payments
Due to this significant experience in banking, the company has integrated secure financial solutions into its platform, throughout its construction loan administration, home builder and commercial financing and project monitoring services. This enables the lenders to safely and transparently send money and ensure that funds go to the correct segments of a construction project.
In culmination of these services, the company recently launched its construction payment solution Built Pay, which helps contractors, subcontractors, vendors and suppliers to pay and get paid faster.
Fraser explained that in construction, lien waivers are an essential part of payments and how contractors work with lenders during jobs, big or small, and they ensure work is compensated. He says that Built has also integrated these waiver claims into Built Pay, enabling lenders to disperse money to general contractors through its payment processing partner Melio Payments.
“Construction payments require what other payments in the world don’t. In construction, a [lein] waiver is the receipt, if you will, in exchange for getting paid. Here’s how it works. The lender, who’s dispersing money to a general contractor, puts that payment into our payment system. When a builder is presented with a waiver, they sign that waiver, and I then release the money to them digitally. That happens like that, and now we have excused that lien risk from the project. The builder can chose from any type of payment they wish to receive from hard check to wire to ACH transfer or debit card,” Fraser said.
“You can say, ‘Hey, I want to check. I want a wire. I want an ACH transfer. I want it on a card.’ You tell me how you want your payment. When you’re presented with a waiver, you sign your waiver, and I give you the money digitally. That happens like that, and now we have excused that lien risk from the project,” Fraser said.
Project risk analysis
The transaction volume and payment processing raised the question of risk analysis, and whether Built handles any of the risk, or underwriting, associated with these projects.
Fraser says that when you are a lender funding incomplete collateral, you want to make sure that the people working the project have the skills, capabilities and licenses to do it.
“We have solutions for that, which plug into the underwriting workflow. You also want to assure that the property’s budget is sufficient, based on the plans and specs that are presented, and we have a solution for that,” Fraser said, adding, “We’re actually doing some other things in the upfront origination process to help clients who have to do that manually, because the lending origination systems don’t do it. So yes, we do some of those things. It’s not a standalone system. These are piecework. This is piecework in the process and our clients buy those those services from us.”
On the horizon
Looking forward, the company seems excited and primed to continue growth throughout the construction market, with plans to improve its financial integrations, expand outside of the US and focus on reaching the full depth of the U.S. industry.
“I say another big effort for the year is supporting private capital market as well. If you look at the U.S. commercial market, I think it’s about 35% to 40% of that construction is financed by the regulated market. Institutions that are taking deposits, and making loans. The balance is made by non-depositories, and some of the biggest in the country are deep into the proof-of-concept and early stage development with us now,” Fraser said about potential opportunities for Built in the U.S.
“I’d say international and debt funds are kind of the big push for 2022,” he said.
In other recent proptech news, remote worker-focused smart home network Wander raised a $20 million Series A led by QED Investors. Real estate investor purchases also rocketed 40% in 2021, according to new data by RealtyTrac.