Lumber, construction supply prices skyrocket amid high demand

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- If you're looking to buy a new home or do some work to your existing one, get ready for serious sticker shock and major delays.

The construction industry is collectively shaking its head.

"Prices have just shot up astronomically," said Gary Hineman of the Delaware County Supply Company.

The price of lumber is at an all-time high, about four times the normal cost. Take, for example, wallboard used to build homes.

"We typically are used to seeing it around $10-$12, as low as $9 per sheet. It's selling for $43 per sheet right now," said Hineman.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, right now it's adding $36,000 to the cost of an average new single-family home.

The reasons are record new home sales and a boom in renovation projects.

"I feel bad when the customers call looking for a kitchen done in the next month or two and I'm like, 'We're booked,'" said Finbarr O'Kane of O'Kane Construction.

They are booked for the rest of the year. All this while supply is down after the pandemic forced sawmills and factories to halt production.

"The industry is just so backlogged," said Gary O'Neill of Gary O'Neill Construction. "Anything you have to order from a factory has been pushed back seven, eight, nine weeks."

O'Neill said there are certain products he simply cannot get including the small gravel stones he typically puts underneath driveways.

"The large companies won't sell it to you, they're keeping it for their own blacktop and concrete products," he said.

What else is in short supply?

"Help, construction workers are in short supply," he said.

All this is causing consumers like Chris Viola to rethink remodeling plans.

"It's going to be way down the line now due to pricing increases," he said. "You can price a job today but we have to tell the homeowner, this is only good for a week now."

Many consumers are having to put DIY projects on hold and industry experts don't expect the situation to change any time soon.

Mill owners said they're backed up with orders into the summer and prices are expected to continue to be sky-high through at least the third quarter.
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