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Piles of lumbers are 'like gold,' says local builder

Posted September 3, 2020 2:56 p.m. EDT
Updated September 3, 2020 6:49 p.m. EDT

Dreaming of a remodel or buying a new home?

It will cost you more because of the coronavirus pandemic – if you can even get what’s needed.

One local builder said piles of lumber are “like gold” right now.

"This piece would have been in the $8 or $9 range, now it's over $25," said Wes Carroll, who owns Upright Builders, describing his construction material.

The price change happened between March and August.

"This 2x10, probably pre-COVID, was $12. It's about $26, $28 for one piece of that right now," Carroll added.

With 30-plus years of experience, he knows the supply and demand issues are serious. They're impacting builders, remodelers and buyers.

"Lumber prices currently are at an all-time high, like ever," said Carroll. "[I’ve] never seen anything like this."

According to the National Association of Home Builders, in the last four months, lumber prices increased more than 130 percent. That raised the price of an average new single-family home by more than $16,000. 

Timber mills cut production when coronavirus hit, anticipating a construction slowdown. Instead, the builder boom continued, and DIY-ers, who suddenly have time, boosted demand even more.  

Added tariffs on Canadian lumber make it worse, but coronavirus-related issues go beyond lumber.

"We’re having to wait seven weeks on windows, appliances, and flooring we're having a problem with," said Samantha Wilson, with RHC Construction and Realty. "Lights are usually two weeks out. We’re having to order them six weeks in advance."

She said those delays stemmed from coronavirus shutting down manufacturing plants in China and Mexico.

"Interior doors, the lead time on those has gone from about a week-and-a-half to 12 weeks-plus. Door hardware is impacted from about a three-day time to anywhere from 10 weeks up."

Both builders said it means buyers’ choices will be limited.

"Pretty much you get what you get, because that’s what’s available," said Wilson.

Along with costing more, the process will take longer.

"I'm still waiting to find out availability on all the framing lumber to finish this house," Carroll said about one of his projects.

Carroll said he expected 30 to 45 days added onto the build time of a house.

Some experts said supply and demand problems could continue through at least early November.

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