London

Thinking of building a deck or fence this summer? Lumber prices might make you think again

If you were hoping to finally get to the home projects you've been planning for months now, brace yourself for a more hefty bill.

The price of lumber has more than doubled since this time last year

An eight foot 2x4 would typically cost London carpenter Tyler Kirk about $2.77 per piece, now he's looking at $8 a piece. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)

If you were hoping to finally get to the home projects you've been planning for months now, brace yourself for a more hefty bill.

Since this time last year, the price of lumber has more than doubled, almost tripling in cost.

"Right through the chain, from the mill to the customer, the prices are up tremendously," said Steve Copp, president of Copp's Buildall in London.

A sheet of OSB 7/16 which is used on the outside of a house or over the roof that cost $11 around this time last year now costs more than $48. 

Copp said there isn't nearly enough supply to meet the demand. Similarly, other building materials are seeing an increase, he said, but not nearly as drastic as that of lumber.

Copp said the temporary shutdown of lumber mills in the beginning of the pandemic as well as the increase in home purchases and renovations play into the current price surge in wood. 

"The prices continue to rise [but] at some point they're going to fall and go back to what they were," he said.

Bos Decks and Fences in London charged $48 for a basic six foot fence around this time last year, but now, the contractor charges $86 for that same fence as a result of the price surge. (Bosdecksandfences/Instagram)

Jasen VanHuigenbos, owner of Bos Decks and Fences, said he has seen lumber prices at double or triple their cost at this time last year.

The contracting company, which has been operating in London and area for six years, is booked solid for the next three months but the lumber prices have caused an increase in their costs.

"Last year I would have spent about $12.85 on a post that I spent almost 40 bucks on this morning," VanHuigenbos said.

Bos Decks and Fences charged $48 per piece for a basic six foot fence around this time last year. This year, customers will have to pay $86 a piece for that same fence.

Last year, contractors were left postponing major wood deck and fence installations due to a shortage of pressure-treated lumber.

VanHuigenbos said he has been able to get lumber so far and has not yet had a problem this year but the price of wood has heavily affected his company, meaning it affects their rates for customers too.

VanHuigenbos recalls the lumber shortage last spring when his contracting company ran out of wood in July.

"I was sending customers literal pictures I was taking at lumberyards to show that the reason we weren't there is because there was no wood," he said. "We were able to work a couple of jobs before the end of the year, but nothing like we normally would at a very slow rate. We would have to drive around for a few hours just to find out what we needed."

"When wood did come ... around September, November, it came at a surge price."

VanHuigenbos said material costs usually cover about half of the overall price, but he is now looking at up to 75 per cent taken up by cost of building materials.

A 48 foot fence would have been around $26 per foot but is now upwards of $50 to $60 a foot, he said.

Small business owners and home builders rely on businesses like Copp's, Rona and Moffatt & Powell for their lumber. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)

Similarly, Tyler Kirk, owner of Kirk's Renovations in London, said the increase in lumber prices has also caused his costs to jump.

The renovation contractor offers services including flooring, fences and decks in the London area and has been operating since 2019.

An eight foot 2x4, not pressure treated, would cost Kirk about $2.77 per piece, now he's looking at eight dollars a piece.

Kirk said a 20 foot section of fence in November 2019 would typically be under $5,000, but that same fence now would be priced closer to $8,000.

"I think a lot of clients don't realize that it's the material going up. They see the price and they're expecting it to be what it should have been a couple years ago," said Kirk.

"That affects what jobs we get too, because in some cases it's double what it used to be but our labour prices haven't increased at all, it's purely material."

The temporary shut down of lumber mills last year, met with an uptick in demand for lumber due to an increase in home purchases and renovations, are a few factors at play in the current price surge in wood, said Steve Copp, president of Copp's Buildall. (Sara Jabakhanji/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Jabakhanji

Reporter/Editor

Sara Jabakhanji is a reporter with CBC News and graduate of Ryerson's School of Journalism. Sara has chased stories for the CBC across the province of Ontario in Toronto, Ottawa and is currently working with London, Ont. bureau. She was born in Damascus, Syria and immigrated to Canada with her family when she was eight years old. Sara can speak fluent Arabic and is working on improving her French. You can reach her at: sara.jabakhanji@cbc.ca

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