Timber troubles: Lumber shortage increases timelines, doubles prices

Around Arkansas

MAYFLOWER, Ark. (KARK) – A lumber shortage in a booming housing market isn’t the best combination.  

The cost of lumber has not only delayed the building of homes in central Arkansas, but it’s also doubled the price of their framework.

It’s basic economics.

“Lumber is a commodity so just like a stock, the more it’s in demand, the higher it goes,” said president of Lumber One Home Center Adam Wells.

Wells says the high cost goes back to the start of the pandemic.

Manufacturing slowed and to fight some of the economic effects of the pandemic, Wells says interest rates were lowered, which led to a boom in demand for building houses.

Wells saw the peak price increase a few weeks ago.

“Overall, the market was somewhere around 360 to 380 percent up,” Wells said.

Because it was so high, demand slowed down.

“And because of that, we’re starting to see perhaps some relief on lumber prices,” Wells said.

The roller coaster trend is also affecting home builders like Eric Ward of E. Ward Construction.

“But the good thing is it seems like it’s getting better, slowly,” Ward said.

Ward says it’s caused the prices of homes to go up about 5 to 10 percent. For instance, the lumber package on one particular model of a home he built before the pandemic cost about $22,000. He says for the same model of home this year, it cost about $49,000.

Ward says for home buyers who contracted before the pandemic hit, there’s a lot of frustration.

“We just dealt with it case by case,” Ward said. “That’s all you can do.”

The rising costs aren’t just affecting home builders, but anyone with a DIY home project that includes lumber.

“And we’ve heard from our customers anecdotally that they’re gonna hold off to see if they can get some relief and who could blame them?” Wells said.

No one can say for sure when lumber prices will return to normal, or if they’ll ever return to normal at all.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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