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Experts believe lumber shortage and higher prices will add roughly $24,000 to construction of a new home

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — When the COVID-19 pandemic began, all types of supply chains were disrupted.

"The price of lumber has gone up 170% compared to last year," says National Association of Home Builder CEO Jerry Howard. "The supply chain for materials was dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown. There's a huge demand for housing and suppliers have not been able to meet that demand."

Like other industries, the lumber trade was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lumber mills and the companies that transport the materials were forced to adhere to certain guidelines and were subject to closures if employees tested positive for the virus. Another issue, the general public spending more time at home meant more projects.

"Last year when the pandemic started, lumber prices went down, because everyone anticipated a slower year," says John Schmeling of Schmeling Building Supply. "But actually what happened was people stuck at home decided they couldn't take a vacation so they wanted to put some money into their home. Build a deck or or build an addition."

So while there's not one issue that created this shortage, it's impact is clearly felt in the price you pay.

"What that means to an average American, just with the price of lumber, the price of building a house has increased by $24,000," says Howard.

Suppliers say in addition to prices skyrocketing, they're forced to ask fast to secure their materials.

"The pricing now is two to three times at the levels of what it was at the wholesale level last year," says Schmeling. "If I talk to a wholesaler today they'll want me to commit to lumber or plywood or OSB while I'm on the phone. If I hang up the phone and call them back tomorrow there's a very good chance the price has gone up or the material has already been sold."

Which is why these experts are hopeful the federal government will get involved to help alleviate the pressure. One hope is tariffs with Canada could be renegotiated.

"If they could roll back those tariffs it would help a little bit with the pricing. But at this time supply and demand has taken over. There just isn't enough supply to keep up with demand at this point."

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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