Lumber Prices Building Up

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Prices of lumber have reached record highs. Since December, retailers have seen costs jump more than 200 percent.

If you're building a new home or in the midst of a home improvement project, chances are you're feeling the crunch. Prices of lumber are stacking up. Take the cost of plywood back in January for example:

"It was down around the eight dollar price range per sheet. Now it's up to 16 to 17 dollars per sheet, so it's gone up about 200 percent in cost," says Martin Schmeling, manager of Schmeling Lumber in Rockford.

Blame it on supply and demand, the new housing market is booming. Home improvement projects are building up and Hurricane Charley certainly hasn't helped. The south is now flooded with construction needs.

"There tends to be a lot of panic buying from suppliers and retailers all crunching. They feel a lot of demand to start building out there and buy up more of a supply than they need," says Schmeling.

Historically, lumber prices do go up this time of year, but never this high. The National Association of Homebuilders, a watchdog group of sorts, is making sure price gouging isn't a factor.

"The National Association of Homebuilders is looking into it. They haven't indicated, yes price is up, but price of cement is up as well, but no indication any price gouging going on yet," says Dennis Sweeney, Vice President of the Home Builder’s Association of Rockford.

Sweeney predicts this won't be the end of lofty lumber prices. Demand is increasing worldwide, especially in China. He expects to see more substitute products, steel or plastic, enter the market soon.