After a heavy rainfall a few weeks ago, I noticed that the stucco on the walls by the front steps had started to come away from the wood underneath. On the horizontal ledges, water had gone between the stucco and the wood and caused the stucco to buckle and break open. So, I contacted a local stucco repair man to come and repair it.
Today he started the work and found that the wood had rotted in some places and had to be replaced. When he returned from the hardware store he told me that one sheet of particleboard had cost $65. Last month it was $54. Last year it was $15.
I knew that the cost of wood had gone up a lot, but I thought it had gone up about three times since last year. Apparently, that was optimistic. My one sheet of particleboard tells me that the price has gone up more than four times. So, if you were thinking of building a fence or a wooden deck, you should probably postpone that plan.
Demand for lumber went up during the pandemic because many people used the opportunity to do home renovations. At the same time, restaurants got busy building outdoor seating areas to counteract the restrictions on indoor dining. New home construction has been increasing for years and that has continued, so demand for wood has continued there, too. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, lumber mills were forced to close for a while.
Thus we had a perfect storm of increased demand and decreased supply. As a consequence, the lumber that was available became more valuable, and hence more expensive. It is so valuable that it has become a prime target for thieves. One poor fellow in Ontario even had the boards stolen from his new fence (CBC), and a truck driver had his entire load of wood, worth $80,000, stolen while he was parked at a truck stop in Calgary. (CTV)
My stucco repair man told me that this increase in pricing has not translated into increased wages for workers at the hardware store; in fact they are getting less pay because there is less overtime pay. Surprisingly, though, he knows that housing construction projects are continuing without any noticeable slowdown in productivity. We both wondered how much the cost of those houses will increase. He also wondered aloud who is benefitting from these increased prices. I thought that was a good question. I hope it is keeping some people in the industry employed because we are going to need them when supply catches up to demand again.
In answer to the question, “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I can say with confidence that today he wouldn’t chuck any wood at all. It’s too valuable.