Lumber prices skyrocket, but housing market remains strong

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NEW ORLEANS — Some Louisiana residents are still repairing their homes from last hurricane season and others are simply building new homes.

Either way, people are facing a lumber shortage across the country.

The price of lumber in some cases has gone up more than 200 percent. This means those looking to build are getting creative to still make their project affordable.

Even amid a pandemic, demand has increased. Frank Fazzio, President of Kellet Lumber has worked in the industry more than 60 years.

“I’ve never seen anything like this. Demand was there. The prices went up with the lack of supply,” Fazzio said.

Plywood and framing lumber are in short supply. Fazzio says supply is low because the pandemic stopped a lot of production, there are less truck drivers to haul materials and demand is high.

Prices are expected to get worse. Fortunately, customers have not seen many delays in orders.

“As more people get back to work, especially in the sawmill industry, supply will meet demand,” Fazzio said.

Lumber is not the only material going up.

“Were talking about copper, sheet rock, shingles, the concrete you’re standing on,” said Heath Gomez, owner of Danos Development. “We’re talking about all of the hard materials that are necessary to start a construction project.”

The housing market is also booming and despite the increase in prices, people are moving forward with new construction.

“We’re seeing long wait times as far as drafting projects, as far as getting bids for projects. I’d say get out there and do it,” Gomez said.

As for those who want to move forward, but need to cut expenses, builders can scale back on trim and some of the bells and whistles.

“If that’s doesn’t get us to the point we need what we have to do is cut back on square footage a bit. Be flexible, get prepared and hopefully you can build your dream,” Gomez said.

Another factor to consider if you’re in the market to build is interest rates are still at an all time low.

Lower interest rates can help absorb the added cost of materials. Builders also suggest initially putting less money down to free up cash as an added cushion.

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