Up, Down, Boom, Bust, What’s Next With Lumber Prices?

construction lumber prices

When the price of lumber rose 300%, many of us wondered if that would be another new normal: pandemics and exorbitant lumber prices. It took Fortune eight charts to explain the skyrocketing lumber prices that recently fell to earth.

Lumber prices peaked at $1,515 per thousand board feet, then plummeted to $399 and rose to $630 in September 2021. You can see why there might be some confusion.

Riding the Wood Roller Coaster

By March 2021, monthly housing starts were at 1.7 million…all that building caused demand for framing lumber, OSB (oriented strand board), and plywood to soar. Lance Lambert, Realtor.com data journalist

Roller coaster enthusiasts say wooden roller coasters are a rough ride but always worth it. The lumber prices roller coaster ride has been equally rough.

Spring 2021 saw lowered interest rates and another housing market run. Available suburban houses were grabbed up by eager homebuyers that no longer had to commute to the city for work. The housing shortage led to an almost frenzied demand for new homes. And lumber.

With another pandemic looming, homeowners went on a home improvement spree. They began DIY (do-it-yourself) projects that required construction materials, like wood.

At the same time, and equally surprising, we were walloped with a severe worker shortage. Sawmills and lumberyards struggled to fill increased orders with a reduced workforce.

Managing Construction Projects: Be More Proactive

Something good may yet come from riding the wood roller coaster this year.

Granger Hassmann of Adolfson & Peterson Construction says uncertainties can force us to become more proactive. You can’t prepare for delays on the manufacturing side, so “considering different materials, systems, or manufacturers is crucial.”

It doesn’t matter what’s next with lumber prices if you’re proactively investigating materials options. Rather than waiting for anything, “You have to be more proactive,” said Hassman. A procurement cycle might have been 6-12 weeks. “Now it’s maybe a week. It’s just all about speed and management.”

If you’d like to be more proactive with business development, call 800-925-6085 or contact Construction Monitor. We customize data analytics to increase business – your business.

Construction Industry Material Prices

Construction Industry Material Prices

It’s not just construction industry news. Hardly a day passes without national and local news referencing the 2021 soaring materials prices. Our country’s financial well-being is driven by building permit applications, infrastructure construction, and more. The construction industry is a figurehead for economic measurables in this country.

Percentages of Construction Industry Materials Increases

Numbers don’t lie unless you’re Democrats and Republicans comparing the state of the economy. Even then, they don’t “lie.” Politicians use different numbers to support their required end results.

You can trust these numbers, shared by ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. These percentages peaked in May, so June actually showed some improvement.

Percentage of increases in construction industry materials:

  • 186.7% – Crude petroleum
  • 154% – Softwood lumber
  • 100.1% – Unprocessed energy materials
  • 90.3% – Natural gas
  • 75.6% – Steel mill products
  • 62.8% – Iron/steel
  • 31.4% – Nonferrous wire/cable
  • 18.3% – Fabricated structural metal/metal products
  • 12.6% – Asphalt, tar roofing, siding
  • 3.1% – Concrete/concrete products
  • 2.2% – Plumbing fixtures/fittings

The biggest price increases were in energy supplies, but softwood lumber skyrocketed. The National Association of Home Builders says lumber prices are adding about $35,872 to the price of residential new-home builds. However, that also adds $12,966 to multifamily rental homes, which translates into a $119/month rent increase.*

“Global supply chains should become more orderly over time as the pandemic fades into memory,” said Basu. Still, home sales are expected to rise. “This means project owners who delayed…construction for a few months in order to secure lower bids may come to regret that decision,” Basu concluded.

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As of June 23, the price (of softwood lumber) has fallen below $900 per board foot, down about 49% in less than two months. 

Materials Tracking for Construction Firms

construction materials

Construction firms using software for materials tracking have a competitive edge. And during the pandemic, one company managed supply chain challenges in such a way it increased productivity.

New York City’s HAP Construction shares steps to protect against contract loopholes for a more successful project lifecycle.

9 Steps Construction Firms Can Use

The construction company said these logistics were implemented during the pandemic, but they are strategies that will prove effective every year.

1. Before the project start date, make a list of all materials to be purchased:

  • Doors
  • Finishes
  • Fixtures
  • Flooring
  • Kitchen supplies/appliances
  • Lighting

Sort the list to give an exact location of where items will be used.

2. Order all needed materials as soon as possible. Purchasing items earlier allows you to avoid future price increases due to supply shortages.

3. Materials are shipped offsite for storage. Designate a logistics manager to:

  • Oversee all vendor purchase orders
  • Receive/log materials deliveries

This enables more oversight and materials control. It also allows project managers to reduce subcontractor surcharges.

4. Using architectural drawings, create a building map that designates where specific materials will be needed and when.

5. Following every materials delivery, the logistics manager should inventory items to ensure the correct quantities were delivered and materials are undamaged. The logistics manager then updates the master list, showing the materials are stored and ready for jobsite delivery.

6. All items in storage should be sorted according to building site locations. Perform a second check to ensure everything is accounted for and undamaged.

7. Label all boxes/materials with an individual QR (quick response) code. When pieces are ready for delivery to the construction site, the workers onsite can easily see where every piece of material or equipment needs to be.

8. When possible, all materials for each task should be delivered together. This reduces the number of deliveries and the number of trucks in traffic which lowers gas emissions.

9. Schedule jobsite deliveries after regular hours if possible. This frees hoists for workers that need them during the day. After-hours delivery also lets delivery crews get in and out quicker.

The time savings are measurable But it’s also morale-building when project workers and subcontractors can find the materials they need quickly and in the right spot. 

Logistics for better business organization are what construction firms value. Construction Monitor takes building permit information and customizes it, making it easier, faster to use. Contact us to learn how our data can transform your marketing strategy.

Recycled Plastic Roofing: Solving A Problem and Saving Our Planet

recycled plastic roofing

The North Pacific Gyre is a massive oceanic wasteland of plastic pollution. It was discovered in 1997. Today, it covers an area the size of Africa.

The extent of plastic polluting the planet…
is far worse than anyone imagined.
Green Builder

Plastics have been much appreciated and their uses unlimited. Their powers of durability and abilities to withstand tough weather conditions make them the ideal material for many applications. But therein lies the problem: They don’t erode or dissolve over time. Plastics never leave.

Recycled plastic roofing is one of the best ideas of this century.

Demand for Recycled Plastic Roofing

The demand for recycled plastic roofing is anticipated to go, well, through the roof. It was expected to reach 35.6 million squares in 2021.

Demand will be driven by:

  • Consumer interest in the use of thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membranes
  • Contractor preference for single-ply membranes vs. multi-ply built-up roof (BUR) systems
  • Rising use of environmentally friendly white/light-colored roofing materials
  • Widespread availability of easy-to-install self-adhesive membranes

The MRFF (Materials Recovery for the Future) is a nonprofit investigating the feasibility of recycling flexible plastic packaging. In February, Kraft Heinz announced the successful completion of a pilot project testing the application of roof boards made from recycled plastic materials.

The boards were 4´x 8´ and 94% of each board was made of post-consumer recycled plastic and fiber. If the plastic roofing performs as well as standard building materials, Kraft Heinz may standardize its use.

“This Kraft Heinz project is a powerful example of environmental stewardship,” said Susan Graff of MRFF. “Working with recyclers, they’ve provided a model for addressing expectations for full life-cycle management of plastic while using an efficient, low-cost package for consumer product protection.”

You Build Your Own Future

There are plenty of exciting possibilities for the future of construction materials. Recycled plastic roofing is one of them.

The future of your business depends on proactive or reactive options. You can lead the way with technology-driven decision-making or you can wait to see what the others are doing then try to get a piece of the pie.

Construction Monitor has data analytics you can use for business development. If you need to know more about how to use building permit statistics, please contact us today.

Higher-Priced Materials Impacting Construction Industry

construction industry

The price of lumber for new-home construction is going “through the roof,” so to speak. But construction industry contractors that were thinking metal-insulated panels on that roof might be cheaper are thinking twice. Prices of lumber and steel saw as much as a 25% increase in February 2021.

Within the construction industry, single-family housing starts are up as are demands for residential renovations. They are seemingly pandemic-driven by stay-at-homeowners that would have used disposable income for travel and group activities. Low-interest rates are another factor, so contractors are being encouraged to pay more – and charge more – for construction.

Pandemic Continues To Affect Steel and Lumber Mills

U.S. mills rode out the pandemic with layoffs and short-shifts. Social distancing requirements called for creative ways to keep workers working. Meanwhile, they let their inventory drop because this time last year, supply exceeded demand.

The steel supply shortage may be short-lived and Boyd Metals believes the pricing will level out. Production was scaled down in 2020 and it will take some time to “fill the pipeline” to meet the increasing demand. But it will happen.

In January 2021, the construction industry began demanding more lumber and it wasn’t available. “The problem is particularly acute in the remodeling business because the pandemic has caused so many people to want to add additional space, especially outside. Contractors and design firms are caught in the middle,” says CNBC.

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Contractors Develop Solutions

Materials that cost more than plywood last year are now looking cost-effective. Without compromising quality or durability, construction industry contractors always find workarounds for challenges. “Be sure to deal with reputable and knowledgeable suppliers,” says Valve Magazine, especially as you seek alternatives to metals.

Exploring new business opportunities and aligning yourself with construction industry leaders is another way to develop solutions. Construction Monitor can help. Our presorted data can ensure you’re the go-to for your area’s construction opportunities.

Learn how to use building permit information to make money. Contact Construction Monitor today or email support@constructionmonitor.com.

Modern Construction Projects and Futuristic Materials

Modern Construction Projects

We have more materials choices for modern construction projects. And we’re developing better options for strength and longevity. It’s an exciting time!

Durability is the ability to last a long time without significant deterioration. A durable material helps the environment by conserving resources and reducing wastes and the environmental impacts of repair and replacement. –Portland Cement Association

Modern construction projects are already using technology to make better business choices. As the focus on more durable buildings and roadways increases, here are some of the materials we’ll see trending:

1. Cigarette-Butt Bricks

If you’re like many, seeing cigarette butts on the ground is disgusting. It pollutes the view and the ingredients (arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and nickel) contaminate the soil. Researchers are developing energy-efficient bricks using cigarette butts. The bricks are lighter and use less energy in the manufacturing process.

2. Concrete Admixtures

“A holistic view needs to be taken about concrete durability,” says NBM&CW magazine. Mineral admixtures are providing strength-driven solutions for HPC (high-performance concretes) and SCC (self-compacting concretes). Today’s typical concrete can have six or more ingredients.

3. Light-Generating Cement

This newly developed cement can absorb and generate light. The potential for this invention is huge.

4. Martian Concrete

Northwestern University is researching construction projects on Mars using available materials. And they’ve come up with a Martian concrete mixture using sulfur.

5. Pollution-Absorbing Bricks

It’s called the Breathe Brick and it sucks-in pollutants and releases filtered air. You’ll see these bricks incorporated into buildings’ ventilation systems.

6. Translucent Wood

This low-cost resource can be used for windows and solar panels. There will be many application ideas for translucent wood in modern construction projects.

Construction Monitor for Modern Construction Projects Leads

Technological solutions are driving business development for modern construction projects. Construction Monitor’s analytics are the most efficient, easy-to-use technological resource for thousands of companies nationwide. Contact Construction Monitor to learn why.

The Future of Commercial Construction Materials

Commercial Construction Materials

Commercial construction roadwork on I-35 in Texas began in 1960.

In 2020, when a newspaper printed an article: “Construction nears completion on I-35,” it became the latest of a long history of jokes among Texans about the I-35 commercial construction project.

Considering most concrete and asphalt roads begin needing repair after 20 years of use, I-35 construction crews may have jobs for life. But what if those materials – concrete, asphalt, and others – could self-repair?

It’s not a sci-fi movie plot; it’s happening now. Scientists are “cooking up” asphalt, concrete, and metals that “heal themselves,” reports CityLab. Its potential is mind-boggling.

5 Commercial Construction Materials That May Change Our World

You hear a lot about “sustainability,” but it’s much more than a buzzword. The future of the commercial construction industry may be re-shaped with some of these materials:

  1. Air-cleaning bricks – Most air-cleaning methods emit pollutants, which is defeating the purpose. CalPoly invented a passive system: concrete bricks filter air particles.
  2. Laminated mass timber – Wood is a weaker material. But cross- and glue-laminated timber is able to support a lot more weight and is “surprisingly fire-resistant,” says one study. Another study says as much as 31% of global emissions could be reduced by using wood in buildings and bridges.
  3. Passive-cooling ceramics – California students have designed a building material of clay composite and hydrogel. As the building heats up, the heat is transferred to hydrogel droplets. The effect cools buildings.
  4. Recycled trash – Recycled water bottles, cardboard, and possibly aluminum cans may be used for insulation and commercial construction materials.
  5. Strand rods – Japan released a CABKOMA Strand Rod that can save lives during an earthquake. The seismic reinforcement system uses fibers and thermoplastic resin and the rods are five times lighter than metal wire.

Construction Monitor for the Future of Your Business

The costs for most of those materials are prohibitive for now. But you can expect to see more sustainable materials used in commercial construction when they become financially viable.

The future of your business depends on your ability to make informed decisions that drive profit. Construction Monitor has the data analytics you can use. If you need to know more about how to use building permit statistics for leads, please contact us today.

Dealing With Rising Construction Materials Costs

construction  materials costs

Overall costs are lower than they’ve been since 2010 for the construction industry. But construction materials costs are rising. In August 2020, we saw the largest increase in lumber prices since 1949. Some of the rising costs can be attributed to:

  • Construction demand is greater than mills’ current production capabilities.
  • DIY (do-it-yourself) renovation projects increased among at-home homeowners.
  • Mills closed due to pandemic; those that remained open saw a dramatic demand reduction.

5 Strategies for Managing Construction Materials Cost

With no end in sight to the pandemic and international tensions running hot, construction materials costs will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Anirban Basu, Associated Builders and Contractors

You can’t control higher construction materials costs but you can better-manage construction project materials:

1. Bulk shipments – Large orders for materials needed at different phases of the project lead to:

  • Potential damage from moving materials repeatedly
  • Shuffling materials around
  • Time lost trying to find where materials are stored
  • Unplanned deliveries

Ask your distributor(s) to work with you to break down deliveries according to contractors’ needs.

2. Inventory – The number of hours we lose locating and retrieving materials is amazing. We also tend to over-order because running out of something presents more challenges than having too much of anything. Every day, crews lose time making lists of needed materials and stopping work to retrieve ordered materials. This is a key project planning area construction management teams can improve upon.

3. Pre-work kits – Encourage distributors and contractors to package materials in customized kits for faster delivery and onsite installation. This also reduces waste.

4. Update cost estimates/plans regularly – Changes in construction materials costs need to be factored into the project as soon as possible.

5. Use construction management software – When a contractor needs additional materials, shared software alerts workers of the possible change in project scope. It can eliminate miscommunication.

Construction materials costs are leading to newer – better – construction industry materials. And technology is driving development. Construction Monitor has been a leading provider of analytics for the construction industry since 1989. Ask us how we can customize data to make it work for you.

Will New Construction Materials Revolutionize the Industry?

Tough, long-lasting construction materials such as concrete and steel have consistently been the standard for the industry. However, newer materials, including many types of composites, are becoming more popular for use in construction projects.

The Next Wave of Construction Materials

construction materialsIn an article on the website Construction Dive, reporter Kim Slowey reports on the increasing use of composites and how they could dramatically change what kinds of materials are used in and the way buildings are constructed.

Composite materials, including fiberglass, structural plastics and carbon fiber, have the potential to revolutionize the construction industry and the way buildings are put together, noted architect Greg Lynn, quoted in Slowey’s article.

Lynn reported that composites and the strong, fast-drying adhesives used to put them together could be used in many applications where steel and concrete have traditionally been used.

Probably the most dramatic application, according to Lynn, would be using composites and adhesives in the construction of high-rise buildings and skyscrapers. Many types of composites are significantly cheaper than traditional building materials. At the same time, composites can provide equal or greater strength while also being lighter and easier to handle.

Composite construction of skyscrapers, Lynn stated in the article, would result in buildings that could better withstand the stresses of an earthquake by reducing building movement. Composite and adhesive construction is also less costly than traditional building methods.

Slowey noted that another type of new sustainable construction material, cross-laminated timber (CLT), is also gaining popularity for use in building high-rise structures.

Potential Drawbacks

Understandably, the use of these materials has not yet become widespread. Overcoming perceptions about composite construction will be a major hurdle for its advocates. For example, tenants may not be eager to occupy space in what they perceive as a “glued together” skyscraper. Anything less than standard concrete and steel may be seen as inferior or unsafe.

Construction Monitor gives today’s construction companies the edge they need with information on the latest industry developments and construction leads. Contact us today for more information on the use of composites and other types of new construction materials and how these materials could change the way projects are planned, built and maintained.

New Report: Construction Material Costs Continue to Slide

Prices for construction materials continued to decrease in the early part of 2016, although industry experts expect those prices to start moving upward in early spring and later.

construction material costsFebruary 2016 marked the eighth consecutive month of material price decreases, according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), a major industry trade group.

Construction input prices were down 0.6 percent in February 2016, marking a 3.7 percent decrease since February 2015, the ABC reported. Nonresidential inputs showed a 0.7 percent decrease from January 2016 and a 3.8 percent decline since February 2015, according to the ABC.

The ABC’s findings were reached following an analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index released on March 15, 2016.

Prices slid downward in eight key areas, the ABC noted. These include:

  • Crude petroleum
  • Unprocessed energy material
  • Fabricated structural metal
  • Steel mill products
  • Plumbing fixtures and fittings
  • Nonferrous wire and cable
  • Iron and steel
  • Softwood lumber.

In contrast, only three areas experienced increases in February 2016.

  • Prepared asphalt and tar/roofing and siding products
  • Concrete products
  • Natural gas

Anirban Basu, the ABC’s chief economist, found that global financial issues, such as weakness in the commodity markets, lackluster economic growth in the United States and abroad, and strengthening of the U.S. dollar contributed to the cost declines.

The price decreases are not expected to last throughout the year, however. The ABC expects prices to rebound beginning in March 2016 or later. Upticks in prices are not expected to be substantial, however, noted reporter Emily Peiffer, writing on the Construction Dive website.

Peiffer also reported that declining construction material costs have harmed the U.S. energy sector and the regional and local economies that rely on it. Even a modest increase in prices in March or later is expected to help give those economies a boost, Peiffer noted.

Construction Monitor is the industry’s top source for construction leads and news and information on topics that affect building projects throughout the United States. Contact us today for more information on changes in construction material costs and how you can take best advantage of the recent decreases in material prices.