By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Here’s another economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic: Lumber prices are hitting all-time highs.
That’s adding tens of thousands of dollars to the price of new homes and causing builders to renegotiate contracts on projects large and small.
Central Oregon Daily News spoke to a deck contractor about what it means for him and his customers.
In 20 years of building decks, Rian LeBlanc, owner of LeBlanc Decks, says he’s never been in a situation where he’s had to renegotiate contracts, but he’s there now.
Finished lumber prices have more than doubled, and in some instances, tripled in the past year.
“Luckily most people in Bend have been hearing this through the grapevine,” LeBlanc said. “We haven’t a lot of push back on it, but they are frustrated with the fact we are coming back and saying ‘Hey, I need x amount of dollars.’ Many times, that’s into the thousands to continue this project.”
Blame the increase in lumber prices on COVID.
Lumber mills and wood product manufacturers have reduced production to satisfy health requirements.
At the same time, homeowners tired of being cooped up and staring at the same four walls are busy remodeling.
New home starts hit a 14-year-high in December despite the economic crisis.
It’s a classic example of high demand, low supply and rapidly escalating prices.
“It’s crazy. I have to believe this is affecting the homebuilders even more dramatically,” LeBlanc said. “Us being deck builders, we’re not using as many sheet goods or materials as a homebuilder. I can’t even imagine the impact that’s having for those guys.”
A correction in lumber prices is expected as vaccines become more widely available, lumber production catches up with demand, and people begin escaping the confines of their homes and resume travel.