BOISE, Idaho — A shortage in lumber is pushing prices through the roof in the Gem State and nationally, adding another layer to the Treasure Valley's housing crisis.
“I've been hearing from our builder members that they're looking to place orders for homes that they've got under contract and are hearing not just a few pieces here or there but whole sets of saying floor joist or other pieces are just not available,” said Bill Rauer, an executive office with Building Contractors Association of Southwestern Idaho.
He told KTVB that it's not just a local problem, but a global one.
“To put it in the words of the economist I’m seeing in the industry, it's hitting us right in the wallet,” Rauer said. “The demand is not only for building houses and commercial structures but throughout the pandemic homeowners across the country were doing remodel projects which also require lumber.”
Chris Skidmore, who recently got a quote for a new fence, is experiencing that shortage first hand.
“It's a bummer for sure,” Skidmore said. “About two weeks later, they gave me a call and told me they didn’t have any wood."
He understands the shortage and is patiently waiting for that wood to come in. However, experts say, the shortage is creating a bigger problem and is contributing to the housing crisis.
“Total lumber prices for the average home in the United States right now is up 208%, so really a crazy time we've never seen anything like this before,” Rauer said.
To put those lumber prices into perspective, Rauer explained that as of Tuesday, it was a little more than $1,100 per thousand board feet. Compared to a year ago, that number was closer to $350 per thousand board feet.
Rauer told KTVB that the foundation of the issue stems from a labor shortage, but that’s not all.
“It can be attributed to the pandemic, it can be attributed to people coming back to the lumber producing industry,” Rauer said. “Another piece of the puzzle is that construction stayed very active throughout the winter months, which is usually when you see a period of time when lumber producers can get caught up and they didn’t have the time to do that this year.”
BCA is actively talking to state and federal governments for ways to creatively address this. They're also actively looking for alternative ways to build homes.
One way that's already being used is something known as insulated concrete forms, which Rauer described as building an energy-efficient exterior or shell of a building without using any or very little lumber.
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