Rising price of lumber putting people in a pinch

Kmov – ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — Lumber prices are skyrocketing as the latest consequence of COVID-19. It’s putting a lot of people around St. Louis in a pinch they didn’t predict. 

Holly Huebner is planning to build her dream home on a vacant lot in Dogtown, but for now those plans are on hold.

At Bremer Hardware and Lumber in Bourbon, prices are up significantly from February.

“They were going for $11.93, now they are $21.39 for a 16 footer,” said Marcus Bremer.

Bremer says the rising price of lumber is having a big impact on the customers that come through his doors.

“Nobody wants to build anything right now. It’s so expensive,” said Bremer.

So why is it happening? Bremer says it’s more fallout from COVID. 

“The big reason for that is, when coronavirus hit they shut down a lot of the mills and plants.

“With all the building and people home from furlough the demand got so high they couldn’t keep up with it,” said Bremer.

In Missouri, forest products are big business.

“It’s about a ten billion dollar economic engine for the state’s economy,” said Brian Brookshire, executive director of the Missouri Forest Products Association.

“Tremendous amount of wood product manufacturing happens in the State of Missouri,” Brookshire said.

But unlike southern states that produce 2×4’s for home construction, most of Missouri’s timber produces things like hardwood floors. Unlike the rising cost of lumber, Brookshire says the opposite is happening for the group he represents.

“The reason you contacted me is why I’m getting contacted by a lot of folks. They see prices of pine 2×4 lumber going up in box stores and the assumption is that’s the case here in the hardwood industry not been the case in recent times,” Brookshire said.

That’s good news for consumers who want to put hardwood flooring in. It’s cheaper than it was a year ago.

Brookshire says trade issues with China and falling demand for real wood floors versus other alternatives is driving the price down.

If you’re redoing your living room floor you might be in luck, but if you’re rebuilding your deck, you might want to hold on to your wallet.

Bremer hopes prices begin to level out over winter, as fewer people tackle outdoor projects. For people like Huebner, and others like her, the year of uncertainty continues.

“COVID hit and I was furloughed and that pushed everything back. By time we got on our feet again, building prices just doubled, tripled whatever. Advised by the builder let’s postpone it. Just a lot right now,” said Huebner.

It’s also having an impact on contractors working on big projects. In some cases, bids were done months ago, now prices are up and that’s cutting into profit margins. If it’s had an impact on you, share your story with Chris Nagus on his Facebook page.

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