WEATHER WATCH
DIYers beware: The price of Lowcountry lumber is through the roof
{p}Your next DIY project might be more expensive the longer you wait. (WCIV){/p}

Your next DIY project might be more expensive the longer you wait.

Builders say the price of lumber has skyrocketed during the pandemic.

"One piece of maple used to be $35, now they’re upwards of $65," said Dalton Bradford, an independent builder who owns the Salty Carpenter. "The demand has been overwhelming. The supply has been underwhelming."

Bradford provided prices from his lumber supplier, James Island-based Buck Lumber, that show an increase across the board in recent months.

OSB plywood has increased 31% in the last 30 days and 78% in the last year. Data from Buck Lumber also shows the price of spruce wood has increased 25% in the last 30 days and 50% in the last year. All plywood prices have increased 19% in the last 30 days and 61% in the last year.

Bradford says some lumber mills shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, disrupting the supply chain.

"A lot of it's milled overseas, so now there’s various tariffs involved," he said. "You've got to price materials out because they change everyday."

"Every single time I go to the store, the price is different," said builder Matt Gillette. He owns the building company King Arthur's Castle and says much of the lumber in big box stores comes from overseas.

He said that lumber must "go through customs, and to make sure the chemicals that are on there are treated correctly and are safe and meet current regulations".

It's the breakdown in the supply chain that's made lumber prices and availability so unpredictable.

"You're stuck between 'they told me it was going to be here Tuesday, and it’s now Wednesday, and then Tuesday the next week and Tuesday the next week' and you don’t know until the day it shows up," he said.

Gillette said that's causing wait times for products that would normally be available right off the shelf.

The issue also isn't just impact wood. Other building materials like nails, windows, and doors have become more scarce during the pandemic.

"Screws and nails are more expensive," Bradford said. "In the last 30 days for just sheet material, which is plywood, it’s gone up about 16%."

Bradford said it may take some time for prices to return to pre-COVID levels.

"I think we’re used to these prices, so I don’t’ think they’re falling anytime soon," he said. "I think they’ll stay up there for the time being."

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