US homebuilding is facing another critical barrier, and it’s probably not what you’d guess.
Lumber prices are seeing an unprecedented spike and, with the release of a recent Housing Wire story on lumber prices, this issue is seeing more attention from those outside of the construction industry. But lumber prices aren’t the only homebuilding items seeing supply market issues.
There is a severe resin shortage that is impacting the production and market-pricing of OSB and plywood, materials typically used in the sheeting and roofing of Habitat homes. The severe impact of product availability has allowed manufacturers to essentially name their own prices but with the current state of housing demand, those inflated prices haven’t slowed house production.
In addition to lumber, OSB, and plywood, the industry is also experiencing a shortage of fiber cement siding, PVC piping, and some roofing materials. Market prices vary, but overall the impact to housing production costs have been intense. For for-profit developers, this has been bearable because of the large market rate demand, but non-profit builders like Habitat are beginning to feel the significant weight of price increases.
At Tacoma Habitat, we’ve watched lumber packages nearly triple in price since the end of 2019; exterior finish costs have doubled in the same time period; and neither metric includes the significant price increase of windows, doors, and decking.
As the need for affordable housing continues to rise alongside the cost to build, more and more Washington households will be priced out of homeownership. Tacoma Habitat and our statewide partners are challenged to match the rising costs with increased philanthropy (both in cash and land donations) while also working to maximize the density of our real estate holdings, and lower our costs to build without sacrificing quality for those who need safe and stable homes. We have also increased our advocacy efforts, working with elected officials at all levels of government to find innovative solutions to the housing crisis and implement policies that encourage investment in affordable housing.
What about you? What ideas do you have to combat this compound crisis? It will take all of us to keep entry-level homeownership a reality in our community.