SAN ANTONIO – The cost of lumber is hammering Ed Berlanga.
The CEO of Texas Homes has watched his homes go up, and so has the cost of materials -- especially loose lumber.
“It was well over a 100% increase in less than a year,” Berlanga said.
Lumber alone for one of his popular models was $35,000 before the pandemic. By September, it was $70,000.
The price of lumber has surged nearly 180% since the pandemic began, according to the National Association for Home Builders, adding roughly $24,000 to the price of a new single family house.
What’s behind it? In addition to tariffs, demand has simply outstripped supply.
As pandemic shutdowns and cases took hold, many mills cut back production or even closed anticipating a less need for lumber products. Instead, demand for home improvement and new construction went through the roof.
“It isn’t just new home builders,” Berlanga said. “It’s remodelers. It’s basically anybody, the handyman who likes doing reno projects. It’s affected a lot of people.”
That includes Roger Gilbert. His company, Superior Fencing Company, has seen the price of treated lumber triple in the the past year.
“For our previous customers that got a quote last year and they’re ready to move forward, they’re really shocked that our costs are really up,” Gilbert said.
When costs can’t be passed along to the customers, they’re chopping into profit margins.
In Berlanga’s case, as with many builders, the signed contract locks in the price.
“If we don’t start on the house for 60 days later, by then the lumber could have gone up thousands of dollars,” he said. “So, when you ask me the question, ‘Do we pass it along or do we eat it?’ We eat it.”
Bottom line, until supply catches up with demand and prices fall, consumers can expect to pay more for that new deck, fence or entire house because, for now, money does grow on trees.