Logs are seen in an aerial view stacked at the Interfor sawmill, in Grand Forks, B.C., Saturday, May 12, 2018. An unexpected rebound in wood product prices this month is boosting profits for Canadian forestry companies but leaving homeowners and buyers with the prospect of higher home and renovation costs in 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Logs are seen in an aerial view stacked at the Interfor sawmill, in Grand Forks, B.C., Saturday, May 12, 2018. An unexpected rebound in wood product prices this month is boosting profits for Canadian forestry companies but leaving homeowners and buyers with the prospect of higher home and renovation costs in 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Wood products pricing surge expected to persist, raising 2021 house, renovation costs

Lumber prices have added as much as $30K to the construction cost of a typical 2,500-square-foot house

An unexpected rebound in wood product prices this month is boosting profits for Canadian forestry companies but leaving homeowners and buyers with the prospect of higher home and renovation costs in 2021.

Prices for lumber and wood panels are up in December due to strong housing markets and limited capacity to increase North American production following a seasonal softening of prices in October and November, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Quinn.

“As we head into 2021, we have seen unprecedented pricing levels to close out 2020 with (lumber) prices moving higher following a pullback in October/November,” said Quinn in a report.

“With demand likely to get stronger as dealers get ready for what should be a very strong spring building season, we expect that prices will remain at a high level during the first half of the year.”

Next year could be even brighter for producers than 2020, he said, adding that record high prices set last summer as COVID-19 forced people to work from home — thus sparking interest in renovations or buying a bigger house — will likely continue or be eclipsed in 2021.

The price volatility and shortage of supply of some wood products means headaches for homebuilders trying to take advantage of the current strong market for new houses that is expected to continue in 2021, said Kevin Lee, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

“Our members price houses based on expected near-term prices for lumber and then, when they go up, it becomes very hard to operate,” he said.

“They went down a little bit through October but you’re still talking about lumber prices three or four times the prices from a year ago. And now they’ve escalated right back up again.”

He says higher lumber prices this year have added as much as $30,000 to the construction cost of a typical 2,500-square-foot (232-square-metre) house in Canada.

Higher wood product costs haven’t affected the work volume for Shamrock Mountain Building Ltd., a home and renovation contractor that employs 14 staff split between Calgary and the ski resort community of Golden, B.C., according to owner Dale Higgins.

“All you can do is pass it along. Obviously prices are going up, you just have to be honest about it,” he said on Wednesday.

“Some people complain a little bit more about it … (but) if they’re getting multiple quotes, everyone’s saying the same thing. It’s not like just one person is charging 20 per cent more for lumber.”

Higher prices are encouraging Western Forest Products Inc. of Vancouver to redirect logs harvested on the West Coast that might have previously been exported to Asia into its Canadian mills to make value-added products, said CEO Don Demens.

“The opportunity we have is to really move up the product value chain and increase our production,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

“Some of the logs on the coast were being exported into China. We can repatriate those logs into our sawmills and manufacture lumber products for customers in North America.”

He said the company remains cautious about increasing spending, however, because of unknowns posed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Shares in Western Forest Products closed up 7.5 per cent at $1.29 on Wednesday after RBC analysts raised their target price by 50 cents to $1.50 per share.

In a report, RBC cited strong wood product demand and the lower U.S. lumber import duties for its bullish rating.

In a new forecast out Tuesday, RBC raised its composite price estimate for lumber in 2021 to an average of US$575 per thousand board feet, up from US$475. Its average price is US$560 for this year.

It says western Canadian oriented strandboard, a type of panelling often used to clad new houses, is expected to average US$430 per thousand square feet in 2021, up from a previous estimate of US$305 and an average of US$420 in 2020.

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bill Almond’s observatory in its new home on a Saanich lakeside. (Submitted/Cameron Burton)
Colwood stargazing dome makes a move to Saanich

The backyard structure finds a new home after 30 years

Chris Grzywacz, development agent for cannabis supplier Seed and Stone’s, holds products from the new Songhees Cannabis S + S store on April 20. (Jake Romphf/ News Staff)
First cannabis store opens on Songhees Nation, creates economic opportunity says chief

The Songhees Cannabis S + S had a soft launch at its 1502 Admirals Road location on April 20

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Darrel McLeod won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2018 for his first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age. His newly-released memoir, Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, follows as a sequel. (Black Press Media file)
Critically acclaimed Sooke author releases new memoir

Peyakow follows as a sequel to Darrel McLeod’s first book, Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

RCMP have appealed to the public for help identifying the man. (Black Press Media file image)
Police, dog unit called after man exposed himself at West Shore elementary school

West Shore RCMP credits students, aged 11 and 5, for seeking help

FILE – NDP Leader John Horgan, right, and local candidate Mike Farnworth greet one another with an elbow bump during a campaign stop in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday, September 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. won’t be using random individual road stops to enforce travel rules: Safety Minister

Minister Mike Farnworth says travel checks only being considered at major highway junctions, ferry ports

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Mak Parhar speaks at an anti-mask rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Parhar was arrested on Nov. 2 and charged with allegedly violating the Quarantine Act after returning from a Flat Earth conference held in Geenville, South Carolina on Oct. 24. (Flat Earth Focker/YouTube.com screenshot)
Judge tosses lawsuit of B.C. COVID-denier who broke quarantine after Flat Earth conference

Mak Parhar accused gov, police of trespass, malfeasance, extortion, terrorism, kidnapping and fraud

Ambulance paramedic in full protective gear works outside Lion’s Gate Hospital, March 23, 2020. Hospitals are seeing record numbers of COVID-19 patients more than a year into the pandemic. (The Canadian Press)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate declines, 849 cases Tuesday

Up to 456 people now in hospital, 148 in intensive care

Christy Clark, who was premier from 2011 to 2017, is the first of several present and past politicians to appear this month before the Cullen Commission, which is investigating the causes and impact of B.C.’s money-laundering problem over the past decade. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)
Christy Clark says she first learned of money-laundering spike in 2015

The former B.C. premier testified Tuesday she was concerned the problem was ‘apparently at an all-time high’

Most Read