Help me to understand hard money lending

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I own a duplex and a fourplex, both of which I financed through conventional mortgages and with 20% down.  I've been considering how to expand my portfolio.  In hearing/reading about how other investors expanded, those investors often talk about access to hard money.  This sound silly, but I'm not sure I understand the basics of hard money.  For example, if I locate a property that I'd like to BRR, how would hard money be utilized in that transaction?  Would a private lender lend the property purchase price and rehab costs, just purchase price, only 80% of the purchase price, etc...   Also, what are the benefits and risks of hard money?  I guess I'm just trying to understand what the options are when it comes to hard money, why folks utilize hard money, and where I can learn more.  I hope this question makes sense.

Basically a HML is another way to obtain a loan, just like how you finance your properties with a bank / mortgage broker.

Most of them will finance repairs and acquisition. The terms would be different for every company, and based on your experience.

They usually can close very fast, and they will underwrite the subjected property to make sure your numbers are right. (another advantage for you) They're not going to lend you their money to lose money. They will also loan on properties that require a lot of work, which gives you the advantage compared to a conventional bank or a FHA loan.

The risks are these are usually expensive, and short term (12 months or less). 

Go network in your local REIA, and ask around for referrals.