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High cost of lumber hurting Utah's small businesses

(KSL TV)



SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's small businesses are facing the effects of a nationwide increase in the cost of lumber that has been straining construction across the country.

Mandy Bird with Millcreek Cabinet and Design said that with the recent lumber inflation prices and the building boom in Utah, homeowners may face delays while redoing their countertops and cabinets.

"We're seeing an increase of about 5-10%," said Bird, who has spent the past four decades in the cabinet business. "Part of it is just the availability of the product, because there is so much construction going on."

While her business has been impacted by the nearly 200% increase in lumber costs nationwide since the pandemic began, she said construction companies are getting the worst of it.

The pandemic has increased demand for single-family living, and many people stuck at home have resorted to remodeling. Low interest rates have also increased demand for housing and incentives for builders to increase production.

Lumber costs surged when pandemic shutdowns disrupted the supply chain. Some facilities closed to protect employees, while others decreased their output to save costs and avoid layoffs. The reduced production has caused delays in availability.

"We have gone from a 12-week lead time to an eight-month lead time," Bird said. Some of their competitors have quoted projects even further out — around a year before they could be finished.

In the final quarter of 2020, Bankrate.com's "Housing Heat Index" found that Utah had the hottest housing market during the pandemic, including new builds.

"We work with some plumbing and electrical folks, as well, that are also seeing this kind of growth," Bird said.

So if you're in need of cabinets, Bird suggests to plan ahead. One lumber yard said they have seen about a 20% increase in sales compared to this time last year. They don't know when they will see a drop in these prices or when there will be a drop in the construction.

Morgan Wolfe
    Katie Workman

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