Lumber prices impact needed home repairs

Essential repairs are being put on hold, contractors tell the NAHB.

While record-high lumber prices are taken their toll on the residential construction market, they are also having a big impact on remodeling projects.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), homeowners who have had an opportunity while sheltering in place during the pandemic have examined their homes and identify key areas in need of repair. 

But many are not willing to take on the projects because of the uncertain costs and availability of project materials.

“When talking to prospective clients about projects, lumber pricing is now always part of the discussion, as they are aware of the issue, and are all concerned about how that may impact the cost of their projects,” Kenneth Kostecki, a contractor and remodeler from Virginia told the NAHB.

“Availability of other materials — such as windows, doors, appliances, plumbing fixtures, tiles, etc., — have also been in very short supply and/or with extended lead times,” he added. “This has led to additional project delays, which has impacted both cash flow and the overall project schedule, meaning that homeowners are left in the middle of a construction project with their house torn apart and unfinished for a longer period of time.”

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Lumber prices are not just deterring home updates but critical repairs as well. 

“Twice this year I have had to put plywood over a customers’ patio door to prevent them from falling out of the back of their home,” said Jarrett Kravitz, a builder/remodeler from Connecticut. “Why?, Because their deck was unsafe and needed to be demolished, but there wasn’t enough new material available to rebuild it within the value of their home improvement loan when material prices escalated.”

Gabrielle Pumphrey, a builder in Florida, told the NAHB that rising lumber costs have put many projects on hold, including those attempting to make hurricane damage repairs. 

 “Insurance companies paid out too many of these customers six to 18 months ago at a rate that was current at the time,” Pumphrey said. “This has created a huge difference in money received versus current costs today. A repair project we have had on the list for a year would now cost us almost three times as much to do compared to a year ago.”