Lumber prices continue to soar as pandemic lingers on

·2 min read
Iain Cocks stands in front of a home his crew is currently building in Port Joli, Queens County. Most lumber is now double or triple the price it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eric Jardine - image credit)
Iain Cocks stands in front of a home his crew is currently building in Port Joli, Queens County. Most lumber is now double or triple the price it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. (Eric Jardine - image credit)

It's now been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first arrived in Atlantic Canada and ever since, the price of lumber has continued to rise.

Most lumber is now two to three times more expensive than it was before the pandemic.

"The price of lumber has gotten so out of hand that people are stopping and reconsidering doing projects," said Iain Cocks of Cocks and Delaney Construction and Design. "Our local mills have doubled the price of two-by-fours and two-by-sixes that we use for framing."

The price of plywood is also having a big impact on construction sites.

The price of a three-quarter-inch spruce sheet of plywood is selling for more than $90 this week at a Kent Building Supplies store in Halifax.
The price of a three-quarter-inch spruce sheet of plywood is selling for more than $90 this week at a Kent Building Supplies store in Halifax.(Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Three-quarter-inch spruce plywood sheets that were selling for about $30 over a year ago are now in the $90 range. Oriented strand boards, commonly used for roofs and walls, have also gone up significantly in price.

While prices are continuing to climb, just getting supplies is proving to be difficult.

"The majority of the plywood that is produced in Canada is going south of the border," said Scott Smith, the president of Rooftight Construction and the president of the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association.

"Here at Rooftight, we've got 54 homes under construction and it's a battle just to get the plywood."

High prices of plywood and lumber and a lack of supply is making it difficult for some home building companies in Nova Scotia.
High prices of plywood and lumber and a lack of supply is making it difficult for some home building companies in Nova Scotia. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Smaller contractors who do home renovations are also feeling the pinch financially.

"I think a lot of consumers and customers I have are not aware of how much things have increased," said Denika Coakley, the owner of DC Woodworks.

"I just did a project where I needed some sheets of birch plywood and each piece was over $100."

Carpenter Denika Coakley of DC Woodworks says the skyrocketing price of lumber is making it difficult to do business.
Carpenter Denika Coakley of DC Woodworks says the skyrocketing price of lumber is making it difficult to do business. (Denika Coakley/Instagram)

Coakley says she's telling some potential customers who are considering new projects to put them on hold for now if they aren't an absolute necessity.

Last summer there was a lack of wood products when consumers who were working from home opted to do home renovation products.

Many large mills and manufacturing plants throughout North America were also shut down. Some are still not operating at full capacity.

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