Cost of lumber hits record levels

March 17, 2021

By: The Working Forest Staff

OTTAWA, CTV NEWS — The cost of lumber has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Whether it’s building a backyard deck or fence or framing interior walls for an addition or renovation, the cost will likely be double what it was last year.

Initially, Roger Liddle planned for a huge 25-by-30-foot wooden deck off the back of his new home in Manotick Ont. Once the design was complete, Liddle priced it out.

“The prices we looked at for the lumber last summer was quite reasonable,” says Liddle. “If  we had just bought the lumber and done the work ourselves the deck would have cost about $3,000 for the lumber itself.”

Today, that same lumber has more than doubled in price. Tim Priddle, co-owner of The Wood Source,  says it will likely keep climbing throughout the spring and into summer. 

“The perfect storm began last March when COVID hit and immediately there was a decrease in production,” says Priddle. “No one knew what was going to happen and that decrease has stuck with us all the while demand has increased massively.”

The pandemic is keeping many people closer to home and with few travel plans, many are choosing to renovate. There has also been a swell in new home construction and builders require large quantities of lumber.

The demand has not only driven the cost up; it has created a shortage as well.

Priddle says their lumber yard and mill receive wood from around the world, but the bulk of it comes from western Canada. Softwood like Douglas fir, red cedar and pine, used in construction. 

“The way mills are operating right now, log supply is a little bit short and they don’t know what they’re paying for their logs and the mills don’t know what they’re going to produce and when they’re going to produce it,” says Priddle.

“All the wood we ordering those particular species Whitewood for and cedar are PTS, Pricing time of shipment so would we ordered in October or November hasn’t arrived yet we don’t know what we’re paying for it yet and we won’t know until it’s on a truck heading to us.”

Priddle says they have stock for the short term but cannot say what the price will be by mid-summer. In order to offset demand, the Wood Source has imported Alaskan Yellow Cedar, at a competitive price, to provide alternative options when it comes to building a deck. They have also brought in cedar planks from Japan.

But the climbing cost has framed up a new problem for construction companies. 

Cody Czeitker, who owns Alteck Group, says while business has been booming, the lack of materials is causing a backlog and fluctuation can make work quotes tough. 

“Sometimes when we pre-order the wood it’s not even ready when we have the job starting so then we are pushing back other jobs,” says Czeitler. “And it’s hard to even price the jobs properly because we don’t know what the lumber is going to cost in four weeks from now.”

Czeitler has also taken a hit to his bottom line with contracts signed before the boon in lumber price. 

See more HERE.

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