Construction industry on P.E.I. looking at alternative supplies as prices rise

Builders and suppliers in P.E.I.'s construction industry are working with some alternative materials as costs and availability continue to be a concern in the busy sector.

'It will catch up, you know, but this year is going to be tough'

Suppliers and construction contractors are working to meet the demand on P.E.I. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

Builders and suppliers in P.E.I.'s construction industry are working with some alternative materials as costs and availability continue to be a concern in the busy sector.

Prices for products like oriented strand board (OSB) that were typically used for wall and roof sheathing have skyrocketed.

That has suppliers like Mike James, owner of Spring Valley Building Centre in Kensington, P.E.I., looking at things like a wood-and-resin composite wall board that has not been used as much on the Island.

"Normally, this would be so expensive, people would just shy away from it because you could get your  $13, $14, $15 OSBs," James said. 

"Now that they're, you know,  $55 — this becomes more of a player in the market."

The four-by-eight sheet of OSB that once cost $15 now costs $55 — a 300 per cent increase that James said all came during the pandemic.

"And there is some different products that you wouldn't think of that would be challenging in this time of season," James said.

"Anything from caulking to nails and screws, it's just constant price increase after price increase and very tough to find the product."

The supply chain is a huge problem right now, he said, making it difficult to get a lot of products.

Some materials that have been on order since last fall are only now arriving — leaving builders and suppliers seeking alternatives.

Some construction products are hard to come by and — if they are available — have greatly increased in cost. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Construction Association of P.E.I. said it has been getting calls from Island contractors checking on materials that they were planning to substitute.

General manager Sam Sanderson said materials that meet or exceed the National Building Code are OK to use.

"With the busyness of the industry here on P.E.I. — and really right across the country — you know, construction is really booming," Sanderson said.

"Certainly has an added stress to not only the builders but the suppliers and stuff so everybody is trying to do their best with what they have to work with."

Sanderson said innovation is important as builders try to keep up with the demand for projects on the Island. 

Owner Mike James at Spring Valley Building Centre in Kensington says some of the products ordered in the fall are just arriving now. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Even customers from off-Island are calling up, James said, looking for supplies.

There still is a concern among some contractors that the supply shortage is going to cause further delays.

Bryan Chappell, with DTS Inc., said he has four projects to build and is having difficulty getting some of the materials he needs for one of them.

"I'd say what's going to happen at the end of the day is going to be a lot of projects come to a standstill come July, August," Chappell said.

Chappell said he has been in the business for 26 years and never seen anything like it. He knows of supply issues around lots of the materials for customers who haven't placed orders yet.

"It will catch up, you know, but this year is going to be tough," Chappell said. "Everybody is trying to get things done and it has been pretty hard for people and it is going to get a lot harder."

Owner Duane MacDonald of Callbecks Home Hardware Building Centre says ordering well in advance will give people a better chance of having the materiel needed for a project. (Duane MacDonald)

Duane MacDonald, owner of Callbecks Home Hardware Building Centre in Summerside, P.E.I., advises people looking to get projects done to do their homework.

"I think a lot of the trades are busy so if you are thinking of doing a project you should probably plan early and get things booked," MacDonald said.

"We have people booking and giving us their orders early so we can make sure we've got the stuff for them in time."

He said innovating has had some benefits as builders use different energy-efficient products that would have been considered too expensive before the prices of regular materials went up.

"So there's different things you can look at that maybe before cost a lot more to be an upgrade that aren't so far off now to build a more efficient home."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Brian Higgins


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