Lumber prices triple, impact home building costs in Upstate

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HONEA PATH, S.C. (WSPA) – The raw material industry is feeling the negative impacts of COVID-19 and it’s driving up the price of building homes.

Aaron Jameison is building a small home in the city of Greenville. He said this isn’t his first time having a house built, but said his builder is urging him to wait a few weeks until the price of plywood decreases.

“He says such a price increase easily increases the price of a house by $6000 or more,” Jameison said, “I don’t mind waiting.”

Lumber yards all across the Upstate are all saying the same thing– the price of plywood has tripled since the pandemic began. Many said this is impacting the raw material industry as a whole.

“Right now, prices are three times what they were last year,” Mark McCoy, owner of McCoy Lumber and Building Supply said.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) started out at eight dollars per four by eight slab before the pandemic began and has now increased to over $30 dollars. This material is used to structure sub flooring and walls when building a new home.

Experts say the increase is due to a number of factors, including COVID-19, which shut down factories in the north and slowed down production substantially. Since then, demand has increased and the industry is fighting to get caught up with supply.

Lumber yards said forest fires in California, along with a large spike in Americans doing home renovations during the pandemic, has created the perfect storm to drive up demand.

“With people at home, nothing to do and extra money, they started doing home projects. That’s the first squeeze we saw on raw materials,” McCoy said. “They were doing traditional decks, interior remodeling and the first thing we saw was all of our treated lumber was gone.”

McCoy has been in the business for several years and said he’s never seen the prices this high. He predicts that if the prices don’t fall soon, they could have a negative impact on the overall price of homes.

“Its going to put houses out of reach for a lot of people and banks keep appraising homes at the same price they were last year, even though the price has gone up for raw materials. Something has got to break sooner or later where they either assign higher numbers to the appraisals or the price of lumber has got to come back down,” McCoy said.

It’s not just plywood that has increased in price due to high demand and short supply. Resin, vinyl and a countless number of other raw materials are inching towards higher prices.

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