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Outrageous lumber prices hurting rehabbers, home buyers

Prices on some types of wood have tripled in a year
Home Depot sales soar amid pandemic-related DIY increase
Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-26 21:16:01-04

Are you planning a home improvement project, an addition, or thinking about building a new home?

Buyer beware: The price of lumber is hitting all-time highs.

Larry Parker just experienced it. He walked into Lowe's the other day to buy a sheet of OSB plywood for a home project he was doing at his Hillsboro, Ohio, home.

"When I put the OSB in my cart, it was $26.95," he said.

By the time he got to the checkout, however, he says the price on the store's digital signboard had changed.

"It ended up being $33.50," he said.

Prices can go up in minutes

Welcome to 2021's lumber price rollercoaster, where the price of a 2x4 board can jump in minutes due to a nationwide lumber shortage.

Fortune magazine says the price of wholesale lumber has risen over 200% in the past year, impacting everyone from DIY homeowners to high-end home builders.

Brad Olinger is president of Sterling Homes, a Mt. Lookout, Cincinnati, home builder.

"The lumber we buy by the board foot was $400 a year ago, and now it's up to $1,200, so it is three times the cost," he said.

He can't even give potential home buyers an exact quote up front anymore.

"We give an estimate of what the price will be, and then we bid everything out," he said.

He then meets with buyers to show them options for keeping their costs down.

And it's not just lumber going up in price.

Almost all home-building products, including plumbing, drywall and even drywall paste are a lot more expensive than they were just one year ago, according to Milford home builder Marc Michaelson, owner of Michaelson Homes.

"It's incredible," Michaelson said. "We're seeing shortages in plumbing material, electrical materials and drywall. Drywall has doubled in the last year."

Why such high prices?

You can blame a perfect storm of pent-up demand, trucking bottlenecks and shortages created by last summer's COVID-19-related lumberyard shutdowns.

Many people held off building new decks or additions in 2020, because they didn't want people in their homes. Now, they are placing orders and fueling demand.

It's all added $24,000 to the cost of the average $350,000 home, according to Business Insider.

Experts are hoping prices -- and the building frenzy -- eases this fall as more lumber becomes available. After all, there is no tree shortage.

If you are planning a home project in the meantime, see if you can lock in the price or scale it back a bit in size.

Or wait and hope that prices come back down to earth next spring.

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