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Industry Updates

‘Lumber-Intensive DIY’ is Driving an Increase in the Cost of Construction Materials

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iStock/Melena-Nsk

It is widely known that the coronavirus pandemic has not made work easy for contractors, but conditions may be getting even more complex. According to NPR, homeowners are spending their money and energy on their own properties, which is good news for retailers — but possibly bad news for builders, since it is increasing the cost of some materials and making them more scarce.

One person who has invested time in his home is John Buhr in Kansas City, Mo. Buhr built a playhouse for his children after the COVID-19 outbreak, and followed it up with a living room. Today, he is building an office for his wife above his garage as well as an apartment for the grandparents when they pay a visit. “This all kind of became immediately necessary thanks to COVID,” he told NPR.

According to Max Anderson, a chief economist for porch.com, the demand for home improvement has roughly doubled recently. “This is all-time high in terms of measured history in the United States,” he stated to NPR. “This is the highest level of home improvement spending we’ve ever seen.”

This has had its effect on sales. Nancy Musselwhite, who follows the building materials industry for Principia Consulting, tells NPR that hardware sales are up between 25% and 35%. “If you’ve been watching Home Depot and Lowe’s earnings reports, they are killing it this year,” she said. “We saw a lot of homeowners engaging in what we’ll call ‘lumber-intensive DIY’ during COVID.”

The rise in deck and fence building more than doubled lumber prices recently and caused shortages in supply. But that is not the only material that has become scarce. The station also spoke to Patti Peters, an employee at Mack True Value Hardware in Mission, Kan., where gaps on the shelves show storages in supplies, including seeds and spray paint. In addition, fencing has “been gone since early April,” she told NPR.

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