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The Lumber Shortage's Impact on Your Siding Project

If you have looked at the news headlines lately, you have probably caught word of a serious lumber shortage across the United States. That lumber shortage is affecting everything from building new homes to renovating older ones. That issue with home renovation is a serious one, given that there is now a housing boom – and many of those homeowners want to spruce up their houses for market. Siding replacement is often a good idea to boost home value for homes that have weathered many years and are showing signs of wear. How does the 2021 lumber shortage affect siding replacement projects?

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Why is There a Lumber Shortage?

The lumber shortage is the result of a perfect storm of factors, and each factor plays a part. It starts with the fact that when Covid-19 began shutting down all sorts of businesses across the world, the lumber industry slowed down as well. Manufacturing facilities began cutting hours, lumber mills put less wood through their saws, and even the work of felling trees for new lumber slowed. As business slowed down, so did the transportation sectors. This left many railcars and trucks idle, not shipping lumber as frequently to dealers. Canadian lumber tariffs also played a role.

However, what the industry expected to be a time of slowdown instead turned into a boom – a big one. Those who were stuck at home started working on home improvements and remodeling. Many chose to begin building new homes, or renovating the ones they just purchased during the housing boom. The demand for lumber skyrocketed. The industry of lumber manufacturing was caught by surprise. 

How Significant is the Price Change for Lumber?

Lumber prices started creeping up almost as soon as Covid-19 took hold, and things expedited from there. In May 2021, lumber prices hit $1,686 per thousand board feet. For the uninitiated in the world of lumber, one board foot is 12 x 12 x 1. It takes approximately 16,000 board feet to construct the framing for an average family home.

A year before, it had been trading at $333 – for those doing the math, that’s an increase of more than 406%. Before the month was out, that price rose even higher, to $1,711. It dropped in July 2021 to $1,453. As of this article, the price is still over $1,000 per thousand board feet. Experts believe it will remain at over $500 per thousand board feet for the foreseeable future.  

What does this mean? To give you an idea, let’s go back to the lumber for an average family home. In 2021, the higher cost of lumber added a whopping $36,000 to the cost of building that house. As you might imagine, the costs of almost everything else in that house has gone up too, including siding.

How Does Lumber Availability Affect Siding Replacement Projects?

The 2021 lumber shortage trickles down through the construction and renovation industries. As more dealers struggle to get in enough lumber to get new homes off the ground, their investment in vinyl siding temporarily drops, leaving less of it to go around. And when lumber is available, it’s more expensive, due to higher demand driving costs up across the board. The constant fluctuations in price can also makes this tough, as it becomes difficult to budget for your siding replacement.

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The National Association of Home Builders conducted a survey in the third quarter of 2020, asking remodelers about the shortages in their industry. 22 percent of remodelers reported some shortage of vinyl siding, while 7 percent reported a serious shortage. In addition, 25 percent of remodelers reported material costs rose at a rate of 20 percent or more over the previous six months.

The Lumber Shortage: What Can You Expect Now?

Though the cost of lumber is slowly dropping, do not expect the shortage to end anytime soon. Planning well in advance for a siding replacement is always an excellent idea, but it’s even more so now, with materials shipping at least a month later than usual. Remember, even if the industry catches up with lumber availability, there’s the matter of transportation. With trucking companies being hit with a severe shortage of drivers, some materials might languish in a warehouse for lack of open trucks to move them around the country.

When talking with a siding contractor, be realistic about what the bottom line might be. Though contractors might be able to absorb a portion of higher material costs during a normal period of construction, these are not normal times. As mentioned earlier, it is not just the cost of lumber that goes up – it takes most other materials up with it. As a result, a siding replacement could be much more expensive (and in the case of wood siding, prices could soar).

Starting a Siding Project in 2021

While the 2021 lumber shortage is impacting siding project prices, this does not mean you need to entirely avoid a siding project. With the right tools and tips at your fingertips, you can get your siding replacement done confidently and within your budget.

Let Modernize help you choose and vet contractors, narrow down your list, and then speak to those who make the cut. Discuss ways to bring the costs down, any sort of negotiation you might be able to work, and when might be the best time to plan on starting the project. Keep in mind that beyond the cost is the time factor. Your contractor will need a great deal of lead time in order to get your project started. Be patient with the idea that it might be a few months out, if not more, especially if you live in an area of the country where the shortage is worse.

Modernize will be there to help you along the way. Let us connect you with local contractors to get that ball rolling on your siding replacement.

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