Lumber prices hit all-time highs ‘across the board’

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re building a renovating a home, it’s not going to be easy or cheap to get what you need from your local lumber store. 

Lumber prices are skyrocketing.

“Pretty much across the board in almost everything that we sell, we’ve seen almost double in the past six months,” Jeremy Stokes, owner of Tontin Hardwoods in Grand Rapids, said.

People who have been in the industry for decades say they’ve never seen price increases like what’s happening now. At Standale Hardware, prices of some types of wood have risen three to five times from where they stood just six months ago.

Though customers might still be willing to foot the bill to get the project done, it’s difficult to even get some of the products. 

“Some of my biggest suppliers are calling me and saying they don’t know when they’re going to restock and when you talk about national brand level-suppliers not even knowing when they’re going to have material, that’s pretty unheard of,” Stokes said. 

So what’s behind all this? The pandemic slowed production early on when certain industries were shut down, but Stokes said as manufacturing worked to catch up, the demand never slowed.

The question now is when it will level off. Stokes said it’s almost impossible to know for sure, but it probably won’t be anytime soon. In the last month alone, he’s only seen the increase continue to accelerate. 

“We’re not running pricing out any further than seven days because I don’t know what next week is going bring,” he said. “So we’re kind of living in day-to-day right now.”

Because of how rapidly things are changing, Stokes said customers should be prepared for the potential of price hikes even if they’ve already gotten a quote.

Lumber stacked up for a project. (April 28, 2021)

He’s also concerned about people who might be newer to the building industry, because some of them might not have material price increases worked into their contracts. That means the customer would still pay the same to build their home and the builder would have to cover those material increases. 

“You want to see those guys make it through these crazy things and that’s the kind of thing that could bankrupt a small company pretty quickly. If your materials cost is 30% of your job and it just tripled, that’s really tough,” he said.

That’s why he said it’s important for people to be informed about what’s going on and maintain good communication with their contractor. 

“Contracting, what we do, it’s all about relationships and if you have these kind of crazy price increases, that can put pressure on that builder and homeowner relationship,” Stokes explained. 

He believes the market will eventually level itself off, but in the meantime, people should be prepared for longer waits on certain products, be aware that prices are going up and to keep in mind that suppliers do not have control over costs right now.  

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