Single sheet of 4x8 plywood now costs more than $65

Lumber prices have more than doubled in the past year and are still rising, adding another layer of cost to B.C.’s skyrocketing house prices

By
Western Investor
April 12, 2021





Workers wrestle a sheet of plywood onto a roof replacement April  12. |Western Investor
— Workers wrestle a sheet of plywood onto a roof replacement April 12. | Western Investor

As of April 9, a basic SPF (spruce, pine, fir) two-by-four cost a record high of $1,132 per thousand board feet, according to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development's weekly B.C. lumber price tracking.

This compares to an average of $532 a year ago and to $372 in pre-pandemic 2019. The price was up nearly $100 from a week earlier.

“A sheet of [4-foot by 8-foot] half-inch plywood costs $65 today. It was $51 a few days ago,” said contractor Brian Barker of Sunshine Coast Roofing Ltd. on April 12, as he prepped a roof for more than 50 sheets of plywood.

A standard eight-foot 2x4 is now more than $7 after tax, he added.

The price of standard plywood panels hit $1,223 per thousand board feet on April 9, up from $1076 a week earlier and twice the price from a year ago.

And there appears little relief in sight.

In a podcast hosted by Canadian Forest Industries, Keta Kosman, owner of Madison's Lumber Reporter, said she is expecting the pace to continue for as much as the next couple of years - and not just because the pandemic sparked a boom in the repair and remodeling market. In 2020, millennials made up the largest cohort of first-time buyers for the first time, Kosman notes.

"So, we're now having a large demographic entering the housing market that has nothing to do with the pandemic. So, it's very positive [for lumber producers]," she said. "Definitely through this year, there will not be a slowdown, and potentially also through 2022.”

Lumber prices are now at all-time highs in both Canada and the US, and builders estimate the rising wood costs would nail an extra $10,000 to $20,000 onto the price of a new house.

"We do expect the lumber prices to stay quite elevated for quite a period of time," said Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association.

 


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