How to chop remodeling costs when wood prices are high

Jerome Powell

Wood costs have skyrocketed over the last year, leaving would-be home renovators to choose between waiting in price purgatory or moving forward and possibly overpaying.

Lumber mills incorrectly predicted that the housing market would crumble under the weight of the pandemic rather than boom as it did, says David Logan, senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders .

That “fatal mistake,” as Logan calls it, led to a supply-demand mismatch that by May of this year had driven the cost of lumber from mills to quadruple what it was in April 2020, according to data from Fastmarkets Random Lengths , a wood products industry trade publication.

As of mid-July, lumber prices dropped to only double their spring 2020 levels, but whether the decline will continue and when lower prices will reach homeowners isn’t yet clear, Logan says.

Here are tips to navigate a home remodel when wood costs are through the roof.

MAKE ROOM FOR VARIABILITY

The recent price dip may seem like a positive sign, but Logan likens a home remodeler’s dilemma to that of a homebuyer: There’s no telling when the time will be right.

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