Optimism is on the horizon as record-high lumber prices finally begin to drop. In one of the first signs of a lumber market correction, the industry saw the framing lumber composite price drop by $211 in mid-June with lumber futures continue to drop. As of the third week in July, the market stands near $500 per thousand board feet. While any decline in cost is welcome news, it is unlikely we will see a return to pre-pandemic levels and the industry will continue to struggle as a shortage of raw materials wreaks havoc on the materials market. Accepting this on-going reality forces the discussion on just what can we expect as we continue to navigate the disruptions in the supply chain.

First, let’s look at the factors affecting the drop of lumber costs.

  • As vaccinations ramp up and more people get back to work, the country’s roughly 3,000 sawmills are also ramping up production.
  • Home improvement projects are slowing, as more people head back to work or return to the office.
  • The new home construction market has slowed as general contractors put projects on hold in the face high lumber prices and supply chain issues

But as noted, lumber prices are not the only factor linked to the disruption within the construction industry. Even as the economy begins to rebound, a shortage in labor, raw materials, and delivery challenges continue to roadblock recovery. June’s Supplier Delivery Index’s of 75.1% paints a clear picture of the realities facing our industry.

Now, let’s explore how to best navigate into the future.

Flexibility and working closely with supplier and partners to find alternative materials can help minimize the disruption and price increases, where possible. Being flexible with specifications to accept “or equal” materials or the willingness to switch to an alternative construction method can be the key to keeping a project moving forward. Hiring the correct trade partner that can provide this industry knowledge is key to your project’s success.

For example, a recent Quality Buildings project specified 3/4” OSB Subfloor (Huber Blue). However, a shortage of resin, needed to produce OSB, has made OSB a hard-to-get in large quantities and high-priced material. In reviewing the project details and speaking with the local manufacturer technical representatives to determine the impact of the change, our team was able to present an alternative solution. By switching the OSB subfloor to ¾” Magnesium Oxide (MgO) we could potentially not only replaced the OBS but also the ¾” flowable underlayment (Gypcrete). Making this change required the Quality Buildings design team to revised the project details, structural loading assumptions, and final flooring sections. As part of our impact evaluation, prior to making our recommendation, we had discussion with the property owner and general contractor to discuss specifics including construction schedule, sound transmission, interface with other trades, and cost.

Need help sourcing alternative materials for your next project? Contact us at 717-288-2348