In the Summer of 2020, I needed (3) 20’ long, 5/4” x 6” pieces of pressure treated decking for a deck repair we were doing in Providence, RI.
Let me emphasis the number ‘3’, I literally needed three pieces of wood.
These pieces of wood however were nowhere to be found.
One of the things I pride myself in is the relationships I have been able to cultivate over the almost 30 years of being involved in the construction industry.
This being said, no matter what relationship I worked to lean on, these pieces of wood seemed nowhere to be found.
When I did finally find them, I felt as if I had struck gold.
Thinking back on it now, not only should I have felt this way because of their scarcity, but I should also have felt this was because of the price I had to pay for them at the time!
Although I may have wanted to faint, I had to pony up on the price because of how much in need of these valuable commodities that I was.
This similar situation played out repeatedly throughout the recent pandemic for seemingly anybody embarking on a home improvement project.
With supplies being so scarce, the industry price increases were, naturally, a given by product of what was occurring.
Though there have been some price reductions since things were at the non-COVID vaccine era height, I would be shocked if pricing of wood ever came close to its pre-pandemic levels.
The hard to get nature of wood in this specific environment ultimately was the biggest reason for lumber prices to be jacked up so high.
At the time, we not only had the pandemic, which slowed production as the various mills producing the lumber went in and out of virus-related stopping and startings, but there was also a HUGE demand for the lumber that had never been seen before.
People at home were taking on more home improvement projects than ever before.
The riots that were occurring throughout the country at the time sucked up a huge amount of plywood as folks worked to board up and protect their homes and businesses.
As an example, I remember being hired by a hotel in Providence at the time to board up their entire first floor.
I went to the lumberyard and bought ALL of the 1/2” plywood they had.
I was one contractor, for one hotel, and had ate up all this popular lumberyard’s plywood in one fell swoop – and this was something that was occurring all over!
Then, at this particular time, there were also a ton of historic wildfires in the Pacific Northwest which burned hundreds and hundreds of square miles of lumber.
This is a part of the country that we forest much of the lumber we use for home improvements from.
If you add all of this together, it equals a perfect storm of diabolical sorts that decimated the lumber industry and forced the lumber prices we all experienced to astronomical levels.
Clearly all of these events occurring at the exact same time were a coincidence of Biblical proportions.
Nonetheless, these instances provide insight as to the influence of outside forces on the cost of lumber.
In our current situation, instances that will have a resonating impact for what I believe to be quite some time to come.
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