State of the Inustry: The 2020 Lumber Shortage

By Karah Hawkinson, Social Media Coordinator

2020 has been an unprecidented year in many ways. From wildfires to hurricanes, a viral pandemic to race riots – it’s been a lot. The ripple effect from this year’s events will be felt for a long time to come.

The lumber industry has been impacted by those ripples already. Like dominos, one event tapped another and another. First, virus shutdowns cut back production at lumber mills. With domestic sources limited, people began looking for imported lumber. But high tariffs on Canadian lumber led to dramatic price increases. Throw in demand caused by low interest rates on mortgages, a new appreciation for home and home improvements as people were forced to work and learn from home, and a trend of urban-dwellers seeking to move to the suburbs, and it’s been a lot of pressure on the system!

On the upside, there is no lack of work for builders and remodelers. On the downside, materials can be hard to come by, and lumber prices are up. According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “the composite price of lumber, per Random Lengths, has soared more than 160%. This surge is adding approximately $16,000 the price of a new single-family home and more than $6,000 to the average new apartment.” (National Economic Council Hears NAHB Concerns on Lumber)

For suppliers like Country Lumber, it’s been disheartening to tell our customers that there are some things we just can’t get (at least not quickly). Our staff has been scrambling every day to track down lumber for new construction, additions, and decks. Rest assured that we are fighting right alongside our customers to get you the materials you need, and at the best prices we can find.

In the meantime, there are other products and projects. Windows, interior trim, doors, maintenance-free decking, siding, and roofing materials are available (many items in-stock and ready for delivery!). If you’re a homeowner, consider making these improvements. The real estate market is hot right now (a consequence of high demand, low interest rates, and limited availability in new construction), and we’re all spending more time than ever at home, so it’s a good time to invest in your property.

As we walk through this new phase of 2020, it is our hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. We appreciate the opportunity to serve homeowners, builders, and remodelers in these challenging times, and we look forward to easier days ahead!

Top 10 Reasons to Work in the Building and Remodeling Trades

by: Karah Hawkinson, Social Media Coordinator

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I hope this finds you and yours well and healthy. We appreciate all the necessary workers out there, including the tradespeople, builders, and remodelers who are helping our homes stay safe and warm. Be careful out there.

There are lots of reasons to love a career in the building and remodeling trades. Here are our top ten.

10. Less college debt: The average four-year degree costs over $30,000 per year (tuition, fees, room and board), or $120,000 by the time you earn a BA. Vocational or technical training costs about a quarter of the amount, and can be completed in one or two years (depending on the program) instead of four.

9. Tradespeople can’t be outsourced: Companies are always looking to save money. One way they do that is by hiring workers in other countries who will do the same job for a lower wage. Jobs in the building and remodeling trades can’t be outsourced because they’re hands-on, on-location jobs.

8. Fresh air and exercise: Do you like being outdoors? Have trouble sitting still? Jobs in the building industry are very physical. No need to hit the gym if you’ve been moving on the jobsite all day!

7. Own your own business: The trades allow for a variety of employment types, including apprenticeships, hourly labor, and independent contracting. If you want to be your own boss, building is a great field!

6. Every day/Every project is different: Do you enjoy solving problems, and rising to new challenges? Do you like variety in your work? No two building projects are the same, which keeps you on your toes and lets you show off your talents!

5. Contribute to your community: Every business, every home, every organization in your community was built by someone, remodeled by someone, and maintained by someone. Builders and remodelers are the backbone of our communities, and people rely on them to keep things running smoothly!

4. Develop useful skills for your own home: Every homeowner knows that when you have a house, you have a project. Builders and remodelers have the skills to build sweat equity in their own homes, and provide for their families with both their income and their skills around the house. Even if they don’t do a particular job, chances are that they have a friend/coworker who does!

3. There are LOTS of career paths in the field: From drawing architectural plans to pouring concrete, from drywall to roofing, plumbing to HVAC work, there is a universe of different jobs that one can do in the building industry. Each of them requires a unique skill set, and each of them is vitally important!

2. Be part of a growing industry: Before the Coronavirus crisis, all the news about the building industry was labor shortage, labor shortage, labor shortage. Though we don’t know what will happen to the economy after the pandemic, trends show that before the pandemic single-family home building projects were on the rise. I know three different architectural firms, and even during the quarantine shutdown, all of them have been busy drawing new plans for this summer’s projects.

1. Construction and remodeling jobs pay well: There’s a huge pay range in the construction industry – from laborers with no education or experience (median: $38,000/year) to general contractors (average: $91,000). Of course, a lot depends on where you live, how much experience you have, etc. but when you combine a solid income with a lack of education debt and the other benefits, it’s a great career!