‘Everyone is building’: Cost of lumber, materials skyrockets amid high demand

South County

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ It’s becoming more and more expensive to complete home improvement projects because the price of building materials keeps going up.

Evan Finnegan, a purchaser for Finetco, said the reason the price of lumber and other building materials continues to climb is because the demand is high and the supply is low.

“Everyone is building, the demand is so strong right now,” Finnegan said.

Finetco owners several local lumber yards in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Finnegan told 12 News back in October that the price of lumber seemed to be going down.

But that didn’t last very long.

“Once the buyers saw the pricing in the market was coming down, they started to buy a little more inventory, and as soon as that started to happen, the prices started to go back up,” Finnegan said.

The National Association of Home Builders said the price of lumber has gone up more than 180% since last spring. In turn, it’s caused the price of newly-built single-family homes to skyrocket.

“Basically, you’re looking at double the price of what it costs to build a house now compared to what it was a year ago,” Finnegan said.

Manny Terra, owner of MGM Building & Renovation, said in his nearly two decades in business, he’s never seen price hikes like these.

“It outweighs the cost of labor. It does,” Terra said, adding that it’s been frustrating trying to purchase materials to finish projects for customers. “Some of the materials that we’re dealing with are very expensive now.”

Colin Penney, the executive director of South County Habitat for Humanity, said they’re also feeling the impact.

South County Habitat for Humanity serves all of Washington County, and according to Penney, the organization relies on fundraising and volunteers.

“Just in the past six months or so, we’ve seen a $25,000 increase in our building costs,” Penney said.

Penney said the organization has been scrambling to find additional funding to complete construction on a home that was delayed due to the pandemic.

“We do believe we’ll be able to get that house underway for a deserving family in May,” he said.

He said they also have six additional homes scheduled to be built over the next couple of years.

“We’re trying to find that $25,000 times six,” he said of their building costs.

Penney said the need for affordable housing is high right now in Rhode Island, making their work all the more important.

“We’re seeing more and more families every day giving us a call saying they can no longer afford their rent,” Penney said.

South County Habitat for Humanity serves all eight communities in Washington County, and according to Penney, the organization relies on fundraising and volunteers.

Finnegan said the price of building materials keeps rising, but it’s unclear if that will continue as peak building season begins.

“Ultimately we don’t see it really coming down until obviously the consumers, which are the homeowners and contractors, start to cut down on what they’re doing,” he said.

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