Construction costs still high despite decrease in lumber costs; Hampton Roads contractors feeling the heat

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — It doesn’t matter if you’re a commercial builder, local construction company, or your everyday home buyer — a recent rise in construction costs won’t discriminate.

10 On Your Side spoke to the chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, Ken Simonson. The group is located in Arlington, Virginia.

Simonson says lumber prices shot up to record highs at the beginning of May.

Lumber costs more than doubled and steel prices have gone up 76% in addition to copper.

He said lumber prices have come down quite steeply over the past few weeks, but community members may not see those changes at stores for a while. He said it depends on when that business got their inventory and how much they have.

Simonson says a lot of the problems started a year ago when businesses shut down due to the pandemic.

“Then, when demand opened up, when people rushed out to look at model homes or buying existing homes, then homebuilders put in a surge of orders to the sawmills who may not have had workers back and so they’re still playing catch up,” explained Simonson.

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10 On Your Side spoke to multiple local construction companies who are feeling the heat.

Simonson says the fallout of this comes in the form of some construction project cancellations or postponements.

“If you have some doubt as to if this is exactly what you need and you don’t have to have it immediately, then consider waiting,” said Simonson.

He says a year from now because of the economy reopening, he expects prices will still be a little high but not anywhere close to where they are now.

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