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Lumber shortage impacts local businesses, organizations

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 12:54:47-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — If you're looking for a new home or are doing a project and noticed material prices seem higher than they used to be, it's not just you. A lumber shortage over the pandemic has spiked costs, which has had various impacts on local businesses and organizations.

Tina Miller, Executive Vice-President and CFO of Lexington Building Supply, says the challenges come from a dramatic difference between supply and demand. She says one factor of a recent increase in demand for lumber materials is the housing market.

“Existing home sales are not on the market very long anymore,” said Miller. “People are looking to buy and to build when they can't find that existing house on the market already.”

Because of sawmill shutdowns during the pandemic, a shortage of delivery drivers, and limited availability of materials, there are delays in product shipments and wholesale suppliers have raised prices for businesses like Lexington Building Supply, which leads to higher costs for individual customers.

Habitat for Humanity of Jessamine County is one organization feeling that hit.

“The lumber is roughly twice as much, if not more than it was a year and a half ago,” said Construction Supervisor Bruce Holt.

Volunteers are in the process of their first new home build in almost a decade. The effects of the pandemic on the lumber industry have delayed their completion date and they've had to up their fundraising efforts to cover costs.

“We're a small affiliate,” said Leanne Prout, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Jessamine County. “That's a big deal as far as the cost of the home. The amount that we had raised isn't going to be enough to pay for the home, so we're working toward raising a little bit more.”

As for Lexington Building Supply, Miller says there are a lot of build projects happening in the Lexington area right now, so they haven't lost business, but they're helping customers adapt to the high prices.

“To maybe provide alternate products than what they are currently using that there is a shortage on, so that they can still keep their jobs going and also meet building codes still,” she said.

Miller says she doesn't expect the demand to go down anytime soon, as well as the shortages. She hopes people in need of these materials are patient for when the gap between supply and demand eventually narrows.