Lumber shortage hitting new home, renovation projects

The demand for lumber is going through the roof, and so is the cost paid by builders and homeowners.

This is happening as a lot of people are doing renovations or building something new.

It could be something else COVID-19 wrought: A big shortage of lumber at a time when so many people want to change their living quarters.

It is being felt in just about every aspect of building or renovating a home: A lumber shortage that has even surprised the veterans.

“I haven’t experienced this,” said Rich Nord, owner of RGN Construction. “And I’ve been doing this, like I mentioned, for quite a few years.”

Indeed, Nord grew up in the construction business; his 83-year-old dad is still active in the industry.

And Nord said he has never seen the scarcity and the cost of materials his industry is facing now.

“A year ago this month, this lumber package would have been 35% less, and it’s a large lumber package,” said Nord, standing beside a house in Seattle. “So you can imagine the cost increase on just one line item to construct a house.”

And it’s not limited to new construction.

“So we’ve gotten the calls regarding hardwood, lumber, two-by-fours, OSB — all of that has an increase in prices,” said interior designer Heather Kirk.

Kirk, owner of Kirk Riley Design, said the shortages are affecting her clients’ bottom lines.

“We’ve gotten examples of anywhere from double to three times what those materials were costing previously,” she said.

The shortage began when the coronavirus shut down most sawmills. Many mills are operating again, but fewer people are working. So the output has not kept pace with demand.

“And usually, in buying lumber, we have a slower winter season,” said Eric Ciraulo of Marine Lumber Services. “That never happened. You had your regular normal busy, and you had it keep going through.”

Their advice is to be patient, maybe change what you would like to do or wait.

Those in the industry know the cost will eventually go down. What they don’t know is when.