Lumber prices remain high due to pandemic shortages

National

NEW YORK (CBS Newspath) – The pandemic caused shortages for everything from appliances to toilet paper. While supplies have returned closer to normal for most products, there is still a lumber shortage and that’s hitting our wallets.

Construction company owner Ray Perkins says rising lumber prices are cutting into his bottom line. “Normally they’re $3.49 a two by four, now they’re $6.49, $6.50,” Perkins says.

Interior designer Heather Kirk says that’s boosting her clients’ project costs. “We’ve gotten examples of anywhere from double to three times what those materials were costing previously,” she says.

The high prices are from a global lumber shortage and a huge boost in home improvement projects when the pandemic forced people to stay home. And the high demand continues to build into 2021 with the ramping up of major construction.

The National Association of Home Builders says wood costs are adding $24,000 to the price of a new house. “There’s not a lot of industries that can absorb a 70%, 60% to 70% increase in its demand without having supply issues,” says Steve Sallah, president and CEO at lumber buying cooperative LBM Advantage.

Sallah believes building will slow down a little in the coming months and Americans will shift spending from home improvements to travel and entertainment as infections drop. “I think prices will ease a little bit in the summer. The average lumber historically has been between $300 and $400 per thousand board feet. Right now, it’s over a $1,000. I see it in the $700 or $800 price range by summer,” Sallah says. But he doesn’t think lumber costs will return to normal levels until the middle of next year.

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