‘It’s about time’: Lumber prices start to fall as building season ramps up

Money

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — The cost of lumber is finally starting to come down after the pandemic caused the price of building materials to skyrocket.

One local lumberyard tells 12 News that while it’s welcome news for now, it’s unclear if the trend will continue.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to say that this is peak and it’s going to be a downward trend from here,” said Evan Finnegan, purchaser for Coventry Lumber. “From what I’ve gathered from talking to people, we do believe this is the top right now, the bubble has burst.”

Finnegan said in just the past week, the cost of some lumber products has dropped anywhere from 18% to 30%.

“It is on the downward trend … the Doug fir, the spruce and the PT [pressure treated],” Finnegan added.

There are a few reasons behind the fall, according to Finnegan, which include mills catching up with demand and fewer people trying to build.

“People, I think, are fed up with the price of how much it costs to actually build a house,” he said.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the price of lumber has jumped by more than 300% since April 2020, which led to an increase of close to $36,000 in the average price of a newly constructed single-family home.

Now that we’re in peak building season, the price drop is welcome relief for homebuilders.

“This is ridiculous. It’s about time the prices finally came down,” said Tim Votta, owner of Votta Construction. “There was a time there we couldn’t get any pressure-treated lumber. The price of plywood is insane.”

Finnegan said high demand and low inventory during the pandemic caused the spike in prices.

“If you run on 20 people in a mill and five of them have COVID and have to quarantine, that just sets you back,” he explained, adding that getting a mill back up and running takes time.

Not all building materials have gone down in price, however. Finnegan said the cost of nails has actually increased and it’s unclear if the price will drop anytime soon.

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