Rising lumber prices impacting the Mid-South

Lumber prices on the rise

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - If home improvement, remodeling, or building has been on your agenda in the last several months, you may have noticed a change in prices.

You’re not crazy. The cost of lumber and other building materials has skyrocketed since this time last year.

“Lumber price is up almost 400 percent,” said Danny Lee, owner of Danny Lee Construction. “Drywall has gone up. Concrete has gone up $8 or $9 a yard. Steel has gone up $35 a roll, $40 a roll, extra just since Friday.”

Lee, a contractor of 35 years, says he’s never seen a market like this, and he’s concerned the high costs will hurt home values once the market dies down.

“It puts a hurt on the consumer,” Lee said. They are paying $35,000 to $45,000 more just in lumber costs for a new house.”

Nevertheless, the demand is climbing with the prices.

“Our biggest problem, really, is not the price, although that’s a factor,” said Kenny Puryear, owner of Puryear Lumber in Senatobia. “Our biggest problem is getting inventory.”

Typically, Puryear restocks his lumberyard in January and February when business is slow and costs are down.

“They [prices] always go up when spring comes,” Puryear said.

This year was different. Because of COVID-19, home improvement projects were all the rage with many people working from home, but that affected the market’s fluctuation.

Prices never came down.

“We just don’t know,” Puryear said. “There’s no pattern anymore. It’s changed the way everything happens around us.”

Both Puryear and Lee aren’t convinced, however, that COVID-19 is the sole reason for the hike in prices.

“They tell us there’s a shortage,” said Puryear, who’s run his business since the 1960s “They tell us there’s not enough inventory, yet there are trees that they don’t even buy at the mills.”

Still there are clients willing to front the money for projects.

When WMC Action News 5 spoke to Lee, he was outside one of his worksites, a home in Senatobia installing a brick fireplace and chimney.

“The remodels just as you see we’re doing,” Lee said pointing to the materials laid out in the front yard, “it’s just passed on the consumer because as a builder we have a flat rate. Usually, we charge for profit. We can’t diminish that because we have to have a certain amount of money to live on.”

As we progress through 2021, both Puryear and Lee believe this market will die down, but Lee takes it a step further.

He believes the prices will level out at a point significantly higher than when it was this time last year, making future home projects something the average consumer might have to save for a little longer.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.