The BC provincial health office is spending great effort to respond to the C0VID-19 pandemic; however, the lumber price continues to uncontrollably rise to a whopping price in BC and the rest of North America.
According to the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development’s product report on April 30, 2021, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) 2×4 costs $1,420 per thousand board feet, while the annual average in 2019 was $372. It has already increased by 380% since 2019.
The pendulum of softwood lumber and panel prices had swung widely as a consequence of the lockdowns, social distancing regulations and workplace prevention responses for the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since March 2020, sawmill companies laid off staff and stopped operations for at least a few months, then the federal government extended the Canada emergency Response Benefit $ 2,000 from Oct, 2020. Then, the whole lumber production cycle had slowed down, and many sawmill companies were being curtailed or permanently shut down,” said Mr. Paul Bains (lumber broker at Canex building supplies).
Paul further explained that although most sawmills are back on track, it took time for production to ramp up again. Moreover, some sawmills faced permanent setbacks while others were shut down completely. The supply has been low since the start of the pandemic, perhaps due to the high demand for lumber at the end of year 2020 when construction projects resumed. This did not happen in BC only, but also happened cross the border in U.S.
“We can only quote the lumber price by week, and we can only lock the lumber price for one month only for our old customers,” he said. “The housing industry is hot, and some small lumber companies may not have enough lumber products to sell. Plywood and TJI products are very limited on the market.”
“Don’t expect the lumber price to drop down anytime soon. As long as the pandemic is not over, the price of lumber will remain high. If you plan to build your house in 2021, please make sure that the lumber price is up to date and allows enough budget to account for lumber cost increase,” Paul advised.
Meanwhile, the lumber by-products such as trusses, wood fence, decking material, cabinets, wood door, casing & moldings will also be affected. The cost of those building products will also be on the rise.
Homebuilders or renovators will face challenges in maintaining budgets and timelines. Home owners planning to construct new houses or renovate should allow enough budget to account for the impact of increasing lumber prices. Stipulated price contract for house building projects may generate disagreements between homebuilders and home owners due to the unknown budget required for lumber and lumber by-products because of their continuously rising prices.