Lumber prices putting strain on builders, remodelers

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 11:17 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Last week, Random Lengths put the price for lumber up more than 230 percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s more than that, depending on the specific product.

The price is impacting more than just new home construction. Eyewitness News spoke with deck builders and remodelers who are also feeling the strain.

Quality Construction and Derby Deck Company Owner Jared Brown said it’s never been more difficult to find the materials he needs for a job. He said what’s happening is “unprecedented.”

“Used to be much more... Say you came up one piece short on a decking, on a composite deck, a particular color. Well, you could just run down and pick one up and finish the deck. Now, you may be two, three weeks out, just waiting on just one piece to finish a project,” he said.

While Brown and other decking and remodeling contractors said finding materials is becoming a greater challenge -- especially through smaller distributors -- what’s been the most drastic change has been the price for that lumber.

“Whitewood, your interior framing has taken probably the largest increase,” Brown said. “OSB, your plywood products, have taken an insane increase. What used to be $15, $17 is $45 a sheet now.”

Since the situation is changing so quickly, weekly, if not at times daily, Brown said he’s telling customers that the estimate he provides likely won’t end up being the final price.

“It’s really hard to bid (on) a job, and luckily, I have some really good customers that understand I’m not the one pocketing the money. It’s going on right down the line,” he said.

There has been no shortage of work for local contractors, sometimes struggling to keep up with inquiries. Brown said he’s booked out through August, which is actually normal for his business. He added that if people are looking at a decking or remodeling project, they shouldn’t wait.

“Get ahead of the ball. When you think you’re calling early, you’re probably calling on time, if not late,” Brown said.

Some other contracts said finding qualified labor is adding to the woes tied in with the price of lumber.

Mill Creek Lumber and Supply in Wichita said compounding the crisis are issues throughout the supply chain at mills and having the drivers to transport lumber.

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