Wood you believe the rising cost of lumber? These Windsorites with building projects can't

·4 min read
Lumber prices have doubled and, at times, tripled, forcing people in Windsor to adjust their budgets.  (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)
Lumber prices have doubled and, at times, tripled, forcing people in Windsor to adjust their budgets. (Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit)

When Landan Dallyn started making plans to build a home in LaSalle last year, he didn't anticipate that his budget would have to accommodate the skyrocketing price of materials.

Since the pandemic began in March of last year, the price of lumber has doubled and even tripled in some instances, leaving people building homes frustrated as they try to manage higher than expected costs. The "astronomical" increase, according to the Canadian Home Builders' Association is mostly driven by high demand and strained supply.

"It's crazy, the stress of it," Dallyn, 31, told CBC News Thursday. He said he has a new-born and wants to expand the build, but the price tag keeps increasing.

"You put so much work in getting the plans, laying it out, the permits, financing from the bank everything else so you get everything lined up and ... from a few months ago the price has gone up 50 per cent on a lot of the lumber, which is not something that you really budget for."

Landan Dallyn says he's building a larger home on his property in LaSalle, but he didn't consider the rising materials costs that have been pushing his budget higher than he expected.
Landan Dallyn says he's building a larger home on his property in LaSalle, but he didn't consider the rising materials costs that have been pushing his budget higher than he expected. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

About a month ago, he said he thought about waiting to see if it will come back down but in the last few weeks he's only seen the price continue to rise.

"Who knows if it will be better in six months or a year, could be worse. I mean it has to come back down at some point," he said.

And he's not the only one at the mercy of the lumber market.

For Family Respite Services, an organization that offers support for families who have children with disabilities, the cost increase has meant that the new accessible respite home they were building in Windsor doubled in price.

Since their budget didn't account for such a significant increase, a donor family stepped in to cover the additional finances, according to the organization's community relations personnel Alexandria Fischer.

"We had our projected budget for this project and then the pandemic hit," she said. "Material costs have doubled so partway through our construction we learned that that was going to increase our projected budget significantly."

"We thought, 'how are we going to respond? We have an urgent respite need to respond to.'"

Alexandria Fischer, community relations for Respite Family Services Windsor, says they didn't expect to have to double their budget but were notified mid-way through construction that prices were rising.
Alexandria Fischer, community relations for Respite Family Services Windsor, says they didn't expect to have to double their budget but were notified mid-way through construction that prices were rising.(Dan Taekema/CBC)

Without the additional support from the Solcz Family Foundation, Fischer said the organization would be "struggling." She notes that they do still need another $225,000 to complete the build.

High cost will likely stick around for few years

CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association Kevin Lee said the pandemic is a large factor.

A huge demand for new construction, a housing shortage and a short-fall in lumber supply are all reasons behind the high price, Lee said.

"They've been growing at an astronomical rate and they really are changing weekly," he said. "It went up a lot in the early fall because of the lumber industry having to catch up ... normally there would be a slow down, but there hasn't been so lumber prices took off again ... they're actually still on the climb."

Kevin Lee, CEO of Canadian Home Builders' Association, says lumber prices will likely stay high for the next few years.
Kevin Lee, CEO of Canadian Home Builders' Association, says lumber prices will likely stay high for the next few years.(Dan Taekema/CBC)

Supply and demand aren't the only factors at play though, Lee said, adding that a changing demographic has likely also contributed. He said millennials are a driving factor in the detached housing market.

As a result of the changing prices, he said homes are costing tens of thousands more than usual -- with a detached 2,500 square foot home about $30,000 more due to lumber prices.

"If you're looking at a typical town home, you're probably talking about a good $10,000 or more in lumber alone and then you've got other things that are going up in price from steel to concrete. Almost everything is going up some, but lumber is the most extreme," he said.

And it's looking like prices won't fall any time soon, at least that's what Lee predicts. He thinks the market will continue to stay high for at least "a couple of years."