What’s Up With Lumber Prices?

As we all know, 2020 has been a challenging year, to say the least. There is nobody that has not been affected in one way or another. The building industry is no different. Our most recent challenge has been difficulty in getting our building materials on time and at a reasonable price. Expected lead times (the time from when a product is ordered until it is received by our supplier and sent to our job sites) for siding, windows, doors, door hardware, garage doors and many more products have increased significantly. For the most part, the pricing has been stable on these items. It has just been an issue of availability.

Framing lumber, however, is a completely different story. There has not been as much of an effect on the lead time for lumber and trusses, but the pricing aspect has been dramatically impacted. Here is an excerpt from the National Association of Home Builders describing the impact on an average single-family home, and the economic and supply chain factors that have caused this volatility.

“Since mid-April, lumber prices have soared nearly 120% but are down roughly 20% since mid-September. The unprecedented lumber price spike over the last several months has added nearly $16,000 to the price of a typical new single-family home.

“This sharp increase also threatens the affordability of new homes and the housing sector, which is leading the nation’s economic recovery.

“The escalating lumber prices in recent months are due to the fact that there is not enough domestic production. Many mills reduced production due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing measures enacted by state and local governments at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Mill operators projected that housing would be adversely affected by the crisis and anticipated a large drop in demand. But housing weathered the storm much better than was predicted, and demand for lumber has accelerated.”

As stated in the NAHB article, the building industry has been thriving overall. We feel blessed, as many of our friends and neighbors in the restaurant, tourism and hospitality industries have not been so fortunate. We are keeping a close eye on the pricing and availability of our materials, and as always are trying to educate and be as transparent as we can be with our customers. They are ultimately the ones affected by this, whether by cost increases or delays in the scheduled completion of their home or project.