An Unprecedented Increase
For the last five years the cost of lumber has been increasing in cost dramatically making fences and decks much more expensive to build. What could possibly be the reason why lumber is 3-4 times pricier than just 5 years ago? It’s been a perfect storm of three factors, combining to cause unprecedented lumber prices.
The Biden administration’s US Commerce Dept. on Nov. 24 followed through with expected anti-dumping and countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber producers, placing tariffs of 17.99% on their imports, more than twice the rate of 8.99% during the Trump administration. – Engineering News Record
How Tariffs Affect Canadian Prices
How do US tariffs affect Canadian prices? The United States claims that because the Canadian government subsidizes Canadian Lumber companies, they have an unfair advantage and can sell their product cheaper than US lumber companies. Therefore, they use tariffs to raise the price of Canadian lumber creating a better market for US lumber suppliers. This raises costs at the retail level significantly, and overall, for both Canadian and US lumber. The reason Canada offers subsidies is also the second reason for lumber cost increases, natural disasters.
In recent years, due to climate change, Canada has experienced many severe weather events that have at times decimated our forests. British Columbia is home to Canada’s largest supply of soft wood. In fact, among the six largest North American lumber producers, three are in BC. West Fraser Timber, Canfor, and Interfor, with 90% of everything the produced exported and half of that going to the US. This represents 50% of all the soft lumber produced in North America. Repeated wildfires, and flooding have not only destroyed forest volume but has also plagued distribution destroying rail lines and roads.
Although COVID-19 has provided homeowners an opportunity to do more home renovations, and build decks and fences, often lumber wasn’t available as pandemic shutdowns also affected lumber mills. This wreaked havoc on supply and demand forcing higher prices again at the consumer level. As a result, home prices and the cost of building anything of wood became ridiculously high compared to what we were used to pre-pandemic.
The Impact on LCM’s Customers
LCM General Contractor always does it’s best to remain competitive, transparent, and fair with pricing. Fluctuating increases present a problem as big jumps in material means that a quote for a project can change or be invalid within 30 days. We encourage you to research the cost of lumber so that you can understand why our costs for fences and decks have increased. Hiring the right contractor has become more important as an experienced builder won’t waste lumber or build something inferior design wise. With LCM you get value through quality that may offset costs as the overall project is worth more when done right.