Builders call for action on lumber prices
April 21, 2021
The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) wants the federal government to take action on soaring lumber prices.
In a submission prior to the April 19, 2021 federal budget CHBA CEO Kevin Lee noted “the extreme rise in lumber prices is driving up construction costs and house prices, but also serving to stifle new housing supply coming on line.”
CHBA recommendations for Ottawa to “work with provincial governments and the lumber industry to increase lumber supply to Canada’s residential construction sector,” however, appear more aspirational than realistic. Lumber prices, meanwhile, are through the roof and still climbing.
As of April 9, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) 2x4 cost a record high of $1,132 per thousand board feet, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development's weekly lumber price tracking.
This compares to an average of $532 a year ago and to $372 in pre-pandemic 2019. The price was up nearly $100 from a week earlier.
“A sheet of [4-foot by 8-foot] half-inch plywood costs $65 today. It was $51 a few days ago,” said contractor Brian Barker of Sunshine Coast Roofing Ltd. on April 12, as he prepped a roof for more than 50 sheets of plywood.
A standard 8-foot 2x4 is now more than $7 after tax at Home Depot.
The price of standard plywood panels hit $1,223 per thousand board feet on April 9, up from $1,076 a week earlier and twice the price from a year ago. There appears little relief in sight.
In a podcast hosted by Canadian Forest Industries, Keta Kosman, owner of Madison's Lumber Reporter, said she is expecting the price pace to continue for as much as the next couple of years.
"Definitely through this year, there will not be a slowdown, and potentially also through 2022,”
CHBA estimates the rising wood costs would nail an extra $10,000 to $30,000 onto the price of a new house.
"We do expect the lumber prices to stay quite elevated for quite a period of time," Lee said.
High lumber prices, he said, are even causing some builders to limit pre-sales of new homes given the risks of future price increases.