At Home: High lumber prices drive up building costs

Shanna Sloyer – The price of lumber has increased more than 100% since mid-April this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Rising demand for lumber and a shortage that was further complicated by the closure of lumber mills early in the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed the price of lumber to a two-year high.

Lumber prices have driven the cost of a single-family home up by more than $16,000 on average, and experts in the industry predict that prices will stay high through 2020. Katy Nelson, with the Topeka Area Building Association, said that while Topeka is no exception to these increases, the impact may not be as drastic as it seems when it comes to building a new home.

“The costs have gone up, and for some, it is sticker shock,” Nelson said. “But with the interest rates being lower, the average is about the same or just a bit higher.”

Consumers seem to agree. Nelson said the pandemic has given potential home builders more time to think and plan for what they want in a new home, and this is the year they have decided to build.

The construction and remodeling business in Topeka has remained strong throughout 2020, even as other industries have struggled. Local builders and contractors are currently booking into 2021.

“Topeka builders are very busy,” Nelson said. “When things shut down, construction kept working. We can’t leave a house half built or someone without a door or window or plumbing. We must finish a job.”

With both new construction and the real estate market booming in Topeka, Nelson offers this advice for anyone considering the possibility of building in the next 18 months.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account

“Start now. With interest rates as low as they are, it’s a great time to start,” she said. “Get the concrete poured so it’s in before the ground freezes and the framing may start.”

She recommends first finding a contractor to work with on a new home or remodeling project. The Topeka Area Building Association can help recommend reputable options.

“Get on their schedule now,” Nelson said.

For those who are still in the planning phase of construction, TABA will sponsor its annual Home Show from Feb. 12-14, 2021, with area vendors on hand to answer questions and show off the latest home construction and remodel trends and products.

“It’s a great place to come out and talk to people about your projects,” Nelson said.

For information on area builders and contractors, contact the Topeka Area Building Association at 785-273-1260 or via email at

The price of lumber has increased more than 100% since mid-April this year, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

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