Lumber costs worry dealers, home builders

The cost of building materials has risen by between 20 and 30 percent in the past twelve months, the (U.S.) National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo found in a survey of NAHB stakeholders. The average response said costs had risen by about 26.1 percent. More than one in five respondents said they have seen costs go up by at least 40 percent. Likewise, here in Canada, the new 2021 Business Conditions Survey by Hardlines found that product availability and high prices are among the top concerns of hardware dealers.

These findings are borne out by industry observers. Oregon-based Random Lengths, which monitors wood markets, said in its latest newsletter that the price of Western spruce, pine, and fir two-by-fours dropped for a second consecutive week. Yet cash prices for lumber remain high—nearly four times higher than the June 2020 benchmark.

“My sense is that prices have peaked,” consultant Russ Taylor told The Globe & Mail. “But very few producers are building new mills. They’re buying existing mills and modernizing.”