Rising lumber prices making home improvement more expensive


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HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WROC) — The pandemic has affected a lot of things: the price of gas, simple grocery items, and now, lumber.

As the weather warms, homeowners turn to home building projects like fixing the roof, building a shed, or adding a porch. But a nationwide hike in the price of lumber is going to affect those plans. Experts say they’re going to take longer and be more expensive.

Scott Fields, president and general manager of Matthew and Fields Lumber, says they’re normally busy come spring. But this year, he’s never seen anything like it. “We’re roughly doubled where prices were pre-COVID about a year ago.”

Fields says the demand there. People want to get outside and start new projects after a long winter and a long few months of being cooped up inside from the pandemic. He says supply is the main issue, however. “The mills are not able to reach full capacity for COVID reasons, social distancing, sick people not being able to get people back from layoffs a year,” he said.

There’s also less supply after a Canadian tariff was instilled on lumber due to the pandemic. The U.S. gets a lot of lumber from across the border.

Fields says they’re slowly getting the workforce back, but it’s going to take a few more months.

The experts say to get started on these projects early so you can negotiate prices before they go up even more.

Rick Herman, CEO of Rochester Home Builder’s Association, says it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re starting any home projects this spring. “A deck that might’ve been $3,000 in the past might cost $4,000 this year for the lumber,” he said.

It’s the same for homes. A new one could cost up to $30,000 more depending on size. Herman says he has never seen anything like it in his 25-year career. He says that with the pandemic, there’s also less inventory with pre-existing homes. As a result, more people are actually willing to buy new, and they’re willing to wait, major pluses for the industry.

“Buyers are getting more money because demand is so high and inventory is so low so there is an opportunity for things to even out and equal out,” said Herman.

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