Surge in lumber prices comes from lack of workers



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PEORIA (WEEK) — Lumber prices are higher than ever before, affecting local suppliers and builders.

“We’re getting tired of it, to be honest with you. It’s tough to keep explaining to our customers. Sorry, your price went up again today,” said Scott Lewis with Scott Lewis Homes.

Lewis said the the extreme increase in the cost of lumber is costing him, customers.

“We’ve had clients say, let’s just wait, push it back till fall or maybe the following spring, and just see if the prices come back to normal,” said Lewis.

Co-owner and President of LS Building Products, Troy Reed, said the problem is with the lumber mills. It started when the pandemic began, mills closed or cut back on staffing. The issue now, is finding workers.

“The demand is far greater than what the supply capabilities are right now. And honestly, I don’t see that coming to an end, anytime this year,” said Reed.

A year ago, a two by four used to build a home was about $4. Currently, it’s triple that, almost $13.

“I’m amazed that folks are still building and remodeling with the pricing the way it is, it’s never (been) seen in this industry,” said Reed.

Although, Reed said their customers have never put in so many orders with them.

“We’re getting a lot of pressure from our customers to try to buy material now and have us hang on to it. We don’t physically have the space to do that,” said Reed.

Lewis said there was a solution to this mess.

“There’s jobs out there, there’s lots of work to be done, get the people off the unemployment and back to work. And that will help bring the cost back down,” said Lewis.

Both the builder and supplier agreed the price of lumber would probably never get back down to the pre-pandemic levels, but they estimated it would drop, soon.

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