Pandemic Causes Shortage Of Lumber, Home Prices Jump

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s not just wipes and toilet paper in short supply due to the pandemic. Homebuilders are finding a shortage of lumber.

Indiana classified construction as an essential industry when the state was in lockdown, but many states shut down sawmills at the start of the pandemic. Indiana Builders Association C-E-O Rick Wajda says there are still empty shelves at some lumber stores, and says it’ll be a couple more months before the supply fully recovers.

Indiana Builders Association C-E-O Rick Wajda

Wajda says the shortage has driven up prices which were already being pushed higher by a 20-percent tariff on soft lumber from Canada. Those increases drive up what you pay for a house. Wajda says the average price of a single-family home has risen by 16-thousand dollars.

In Indiana, Wajda says, the rule of thumb is that every thousand-dollar increase pushes 47-hundred families out of the market. He says the impact has been softened somewhat by low interest rates.

Wajda says the shortage hasn’t stopped construction in Indiana, but projects are taking longer to finish.