Last August, after a complaint filed by U.S. lumber companies, the United States levied a 19.3% countervailing tariff on softwood lumber from certain Canadian provinces. That was followed by an additional anti-dumping tariff of 12.6% in October, making total duties charged to Canadian lumber exporters almost 32%. Though the tariffs are preliminary and the countervailing duty was lifted in December, the two countries have yet to come to an agreement.
“The tension has certainly been reflected in lumber prices,” NAHB economist Michael Carliner says. “Meanwhile, the effects trickle down from big lumber producers to remodelers.”
Volatile lumber prices require using extra care when job costing. Carliner recommends that remodelers lock in lumber costs with suppliers before providing customers with estimates.