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Pandemic forces contractors to raise prices, as lumber costs triple

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - More people in north central florida are buying homes but materials like lumber are hard to source, making it hard to build new homes and profit at the same time.

“The lumber companies and the builders all thought demand was going to be down and lumber companies cut production by quite a bit,” AR Franchising Chairman, Barry Rutenberg said.

With the shortage, comes lumber tripling in price in the past year.

Owner of Interior Contractors Incorporated, Larry Wooten, said it takes months to receive the majority of the materials needed to run his maintenance company, and prices are through the roof.

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He explained that a 2x4, which used to be $2.00, is now $6.00 and houses typically require 1,000 or more pieces this size.

“For the last year, we haven’t been able to get material the way we have in the past,” Wooten said. “Now, we have long wait times, sometimes months to get material that we used to have readily available. And everything across the board is going up, plumbing supplies, electric, it doesn’t matter. All the materials are going up.”

Wooten also said a sheet of plywood that was maybe $13.00 last year would now cost them $48.00, and these high prices are affecting businesses and their customers.

“Those who have pressed a home at a fixed price are in jeopardy of not making any money or losing money,” Rutenberg said.

The dilemma Rutenberg described is exactly the struggle Wooten is facing.

“They’re not happy because I’ve lost some jobs because I bid the jobs out months ago, and I had to increase the price,” Rutenberg said.

Rutenberg said until there is more lumber the federal government could lend a hand.

“They could get more trees off of federal lands,” Rutenberg said. “Can we increase the harvesting for a specific period of time?”

He hopes the timber companies will increase production voluntarily.

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