This is out of date (above) , but currently you need about 1/3 of the cost of a project to get a loan for the balance, fixed, at 3% or even lower. If a qualified person like you mention is willing to co sign to get you started there is nothing wrong with that. As an Architect, as well, I would suggest doing the plans so it fits into a specific budget or the project will not be feasible, loan or otherwise. Do you want to have a set of plans that does this? Or what would you do, buy a used house and live in it? That is a possibility, but if you can afford to buy you can certainly afford to build, is my point, so why would you do that?