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'A Perfect Storm' Leading To Record-High Lumber Prices, Driving Up Cost Of Homes, Improvement Projects

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Record-high lumber prices are driving up home prices and the cost of home-improvement projects. If you've tooled around with the idea of adding to or building a new home, then you know the increased cost of materials would make you rather swing a 2x4 than pay for one.

"Right before the pandemic, I could get them for about $2.50. Right now, I'm paying about $8.50 for them," Josh Waterhouse, of Pittsgrove Builders, said.

Supply chain issues exist throughout the world and local contractors and suppliers are feeling the effects.

"If they don't already have it in stock, it's probably two, three months," Waterhouse said.

At Glassboro Lumber, those who didn't plan ahead in purchasing are left to foot the bill.

"They're up 200 to 240%. And then on top of that, you have with the pandemic, a labor shortage," said Jerad Villecco.

And the price?

"I've had customers and told them I think your house should cost $575, and now it's about $750,'" Waterhouse said.

Pittsgrove Builders says they've been charging less for labor than they did before the pandemic. Otherwise, they won't get the work.

Both Waterhouse and Villecco say the industry remains on wobbly footing.

With historically low interest rates, builders can still find clients willing to absorb the extra cost of materials for the additions they want.

But if that changes, they'll be left with overpriced pieces and nothing to build.

"I guess the fear is if interest rates go up, it would collapse the market. Now, all of a sudden people are going to stop moving forward with projects because it doesn't feel like they're getting cheap money from the banks and they'll feel like they're overpaying. It's a perfect storm," Waterhouse said.

Glassboro Lumber says many large-scale builders have stopped building for now. But suppliers are hoping if interest rates go up those prices will come back down.

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