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Lumber shortage causing potential delays in the construction industry

Drew Butler
drew.butler@ardmoreite.com

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the construction industry has remained constantly busy with projects across the area. Now, however, some of these projects may begin to slow down due to the nationwide lumber shortage. Increased costs and shipping delays are causing developers to consider pushing projects back until things return closer to normal.

These shortages stem from decreased production due to the COVID-19 when thousands of workers in the logging industry were laid off across the nation due to shutdowns. According to Lance Windel, CEO of Milestone Homes in Ardmore, many of these jobs have not yet come back, and the effects of the shutdowns are becoming more obvious in the home construction industry.

“A lot of us have our wood already bought 60 to 90 days in advance,” Windel said. “So it’s just now catching up with us, and we’re starting to get nervous about it.”

Windel said while the increased cost of lumber can put strain on upcoming projects, the biggest issue is getting the lumber. When placing a large order, builders are being told the order won’t arrive for three to four weeks — and it could possibly take even longer.

“The problem is, lumber is the second big product that goes into the house,” he said. “The first product is the concrete, so we can get the slab poured but we can’t go forward from there. If we can’t frame then we can’t roof, and we can’t sheetrock, and we can’t put in electric and plumbing.”

Windel said the delay in framing causes a trickle down effect which further delays every other aspect of the construction process. He said sources within the industry are saying prices and production are not likely to return to normal until the first quarter of next year, so now many builders are considering delaying some of their projects until then.

“I’m looking at projects that I have in the pipeline, and I’m thinking I might have to push those back,” Windel said. “If the lumber costs an extra 5%, and I don’t have that in the budget, it doesn’t make sense for me to start it. So I’m looking at those and either delaying their start or delaying their framing stage. The problem with that is then I’ve got a framer that needs a job, and it’s not just him. If I delay him, then I’ve delayed everybody.”

Windel said he, like many other builders, are currently waiting to see what happens.

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