Home Builders Association Meets With National Economic Council Over Lumber Prices

High lumber prices are stifling the construction industry. Will the federal government step in to help?

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The National Association of Home Builders recently met with members of the White House National Economic Council, voicing the association’s concerns over the rising cost of lumber in the United States. The composite price of lumber has risen more than 160 percent since the middle of April, adding an estimated $16,000 to the cost of a home.

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The NAHB is recommending two actions to lower those prices and stabilize the U.S. lumber supply chain:

  1. Domestic lumber producers must ramp up production to ease growing shortages;
  2. The U.S. government must prioritize a new softwood lumber agreement with Canada, ending tariffs that average more than 20 percent on Canadian lumber shipments into the U.S.

The struggle over the softwood lumber trade agreement came to a head recently when the World Trade Organization concluded the U.S. violated global trading regulations. NAHB officials are hopeful that the WTO’s ruling will motivate both countries to resume trade talks.

The NAHB also reached out to U.S. government officials, including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and President Trump, to try and get the federal government to step in and help combat rising lumber prices.

“The White House is listening to us,” NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke said. “They are moving and trying to get something done. They understand the importance of our industry.”

In the meantime, the NAHB has recommended small business owners include escalation clauses in their contracts that would mitigate the added costs of expensive lumber.

“As a builder, I gave out prices in April, signed a contract in May, and then experienced tremendous increases in the price of lumber,” Fowke said. “It is affecting my business as well.”

The association is also asking members to contact their congressional representatives and voice their concerns over the lumber crisis. So far they say they have reached more than 400 congressional offices and sent more than 5,800 emails.