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Lumber Prices Skyrocket During Pandemic Construction And Remodeling Boom

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The pandemic may seem like a good time to take on some projects around the house -- but if you're planning to build or renovate, it will cost you.

The National Association of Home Builders says the price of lumber has shot up more than 180% since last spring, with the spike causing "the price of an average new single-family home to increase by more than $24,000 since April 17, 2020."

When COVID-19 hit, no one knew how it would affect the housing market. Many builders braced for impact. David Siegel is the executive director of Housing First Minnesota, which represents nearly 1,000 homebuilders, remodelers, trade partners and material suppliers.

"The suppliers also got very, very nervous about what the future would hold," Siegel said. "It turned out that the market exploded."

That exploding demand, during a time when supply chains were strained, created a problem. Hamid Azadegan, of Nema Inc Design and Building, has been designing and building custom homes for 30 years.

"You probably noticed that your Uber rides cost a lot more on New Year's Eve, especially when it's raining," Azadegan said. "And today in construction it's New Year's Eve and its pouring."

The demand for new homes, remodeling and DIY projects is raging, but lumber supply is limited, so costs have skyrocketed. Tariffs also play a role.

"In some cases, a lumber package for a house is up almost double," Siegel said.

Azadegan has seen even steeper increases.

Lumber Generic
(credit: CBS)

"[Prices have] almost quadrupled since last April," Azadegan said.

It's not just lumber. Appliance ordering is also out of whack. Azadegan learned that lesson for himself when he tried to order a specific fridge.

"It was supposed to get delivered in September. It's been backordered to next June," Azadegan said.

He has had to redesign his custom cabinets around the new fridge he was able to order for a recent project. And the list goes on. He says garage door openers were backordered for months. The copper for plumbing is more expensive, as are electrical parts.

"It's concerning because it's affecting the affordability of the product we're putting into the marketplace," Siegel said.

But how long will it last?

"If I could predict I wouldn't be here, so I'm in the same boat as everybody else," Azadegan said. "Expect delays, shortages and many challenges."

Siegel thinks this situation will continue for several more months.

Experts say when it comes to appliances, you'll be able to go out and buy a new fridge or dishwasher, but you may just not be able to get the exact one you wanted unless you're willing to wait for it.


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