HorizonTV Featuring ProRemodeler: Watch Episodes On Demand At HorizonTV

Lumber Prices Skyrocket During Pandemic

A 70% increase to softwood lumber products prices in single-family homes is landing first on contractors and then on to homeowners 

August 24, 2020
softwood lumber prices are up and it could hurt remodelers

Even before the pandemic put America on pause, contractors have been worrying about the prices of building materials. The Trump Administration's tarriffs in recent years have already disrupted the availability of materials like tilesteel, and aluminum products, among others. Coming into this year "building material prices" was the no. 1 concern among contractors.

Now, months into the pandemic, those fears are becoming reality as new estimates from the National Association of Home Builders show that a spike in softwoof lumber products prices has resulted in major price hikes in new single-family and multifamily homes. 

New Prices 

There were some in the industry who hoped coronavirus would somehow help material prices, but a comprehensive look at lumber prices by NAHB—which included accounting for prices variances between sawmills, wholesalers, and retailer—discovered that what new home builders are paying for softwood lumber products skyrocketed between April in August. 

In April, builders of single-family homes were spending about $17,000 on softwood lumber products per home, and multifamily builders were spending around $6,000. By August, those expenses had risen to $28,765 and $10,403, respectively. Over the same time, single-family home prices increased $14,116 and multifamily by $5,322. According to NAHB, the increase prices out about 2.1 million households from the market. 

Builders use more softwood lumber than remodelers, so the impact of the increase will be less felt by remodelers. Still, with the pandemic expected to worsen in the colder months, it provides an ominous example of how quickly external issues (like a pandemic) can affect price. It's a reminder to keep a close eye on expenditures as businesses will need to be increasingly flexible as times get less predictable. 

RELATED: Track 2021 Lumber Prices: Latest News and Updates


About the Author

About the Author

James McClister is managing editor for Professional Remodeler.



The Trump tariffs have amounted to a tax on consumers of more than 25%. When Canadian aluminum and lumber is taxed or restricted it hurts American manufacturers as well as builders. Not going to impact the price of a large yacht but it has already impacted the prices for trucks and trailers, made in the USA but using aluminum from Canada. Time has long since passed for builders to stop building homes using methods that are more than a century old. If we built cars by hand the way we do houses there would be very few people owning cars.

My name is Steven, owner of Butler Homes LLC (https://www.butlerhomesusa.com/). I am a GC in the Home Improvement market. I've noticed though, that while lumber prices certainly increased, this increase has not nearly effected the buyer's ability to spend. It seems that discretionary income has also increased - stimulus checks really helped in this area. Also, with a raging stock market and economy, homeowners feel confident to make the jump to invest in their homes. .

Add new comment

Overlay Init