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NAHB Urges Biden to Act on Lumber, Building Material Supply Chain Snag

Roofing Contractor with Spirit Level in His Hand on Top of Newly Built Wooden House Roof Structure
While lumber prices have fallen sharply since peaking in mid-May, prices have been moving upward over the past month, NAHB noted.

With builders continuing to deal with lumber price fluctuation and building material supply chain disruptions, NAHB sent a letter to President Biden on Oct. 6 urging the White House to take the following actions:

  • Redouble its efforts to address lumber price volatility, which has seen cash prices climb by more than 25% over the past month;
  • Address supply chain bottlenecks for lumber and other building materials and supplies that are causing significant delays and keeping home prices about 20% higher than they were a year ago;
  • Return to the negotiating table with Canada and develop a new softwood lumber agreement that will end tariffs on lumber shipments into the United States.

"I am writing to once again alert you to the volatile lumber prices NAHB and its members have experienced over the course of this year," NAHB Chairman John C. Fowke wrote. "When compounded by severe disruptions in the supply chain impacting all building materials and components, the housing sector and the economy cannot help but be negatively affected."

NAHB’s letter stated that these are “three key issues that continue to trouble our members, each extremely problematic but when combined, will severely hamper the ability to provide affordable housing and provide jobs to strengthen the economy.”

"First, while lumber prices have fallen precipitously from a few months ago, we are now watching cash prices climb to more than 27% over the last month," Fowke wrote.

". . .Second, persistent supply chain issues for other building materials and supplies are causing significant delays and keeping home prices about 20% higher than they were one year ago," he continued.

". . .Third, the impending November decision from the Commerce Department concluding its administrative review of tariffs on softwood lumber imports from Canada will do nothing but exacerbate these issues," Fowke added. "Projections are that these tariffs could double again, which is extremely troubling given constraints experienced in the lumber supply chain coupled with the extremely high lumber prices we have experienced this year; prices which are once again on the rise."

And while lumber prices have fallen sharply since peaking in mid-May, prices have been moving upward over the past month—". . .[F]orecasting trends indicate these increases will continue into the near future, and news of mill curtailments are stoking fears of another massive price spike this fall and next spring," Fowkes noted.

"Housing demand remains strong and residential construction is projected to remain at its current pace through 2023," Fowke wrote. "For these reasons, NAHB remains committed to doing its part to ensure housing remains a key component of American socio-economic opportunity, creating jobs and ensuring the U.S. economy continues to move forward. However, we cannot do this without your assistance on the continuing lumber and supply chain crises."

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