Framing lumber availability decreasing

Framing lumber availability decreasing

According to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) an increasing number of builders reported shortages of framing lumber. NAHB reports that 21% of single family builders reported a shortage of framing lumber. Only 7% of builders reported a shortage of framing lumber in July 2015.

“Two recent events—the trade dispute and wildfires—have
contributed to these shortages.”

Wood is an important component in home building, not just for framing but for many features and finishes in the home. A substantial majority of newly-constructed homes in the U.S. are wood frame structures—91% in 2016 according to the Census Bureau. In addition to the wood used to frame, or support, the home, wood is used in many other features of new homes. Wood is often used in the floor, roof, deck and porch construction, flooring, interior doors and door framing, cabinets and various trim work, along with many other uses. Softwood lumber is the most widely used type of wood for new home construction.

Two recent events have contributed to these shortages and the resulting higher prices for lumber.

The most recent U.S.-Canadian softwood lumber trade dispute is one issue causing concerns. The previous agreement expired in October 2015. Uncertainty over tariffs and about supply, plus strong demand have led to higher prices.

In addition, the British Columbia wildfires have interrupted the cutting and transportation of lumber, and the production at lumber mills. In July 2017, 159 wildfires forced the evacuation of about 40,000 residents. Although by August 4 the numbers had improved, with 126 wildfires still burning and 7,000 residents out of their homes, the fire season is expected to be one the worst in B.C. history. The wildfires forced the closing of roads, mines and lumber mills, leading to shortages of lumber and price increases.

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