Lumber shortage pushing average home costs up $16K, causing some to rethink along the Grand Strand

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LITTLE RIVER, SC (WBTW) – The coronavirus pandemic has led to a lumber shortage in the home building industry, causing some people to rethink buying a home right now because of the high prices.

One Grand Strand home builder says home buyers signing now could see a $15,000 to $30,000 increase on a home estimate due to the shortage.

“The bad thing here is, I can’t do anything about it; my homeowner can’t do anything about it, my lumber supplier can’t do anything about it. It just is what it is,” said Ethan Epps, custom home builder for Swift Creek Homes.

Lumber mills are only operating at around 60%, pushing the average single-family home to $16,000 above what you’d normally pay to build a home, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

“A lot of builders and a lot of homeowners are saying, you know, we might push off until the end of the year or see if things re-correct themselves,” Epps said.

For home builders like Ethan Epps, two out of three families ready to sign before the pandemic backed out after they lost service industry jobs, while many are braving the changes and high prices that come with the home building industry amid the pandemic.

For the third home in that situation, Epps says his company will eat the cost of the lumber because he won’t increase prices on the homeowner now that the contract’s been signed.

“It’s not our homeowners’ fault,” said Epps. “It’s not our fault, but you know, I guess it’s the cost of doing business. If we don’t have the materials, or if we can’t get them, or if we can’t afford to get them, housing affordability is really a concern.”

Epps expects an increase in cost and a decrease in availability in other manufactured items like plumbing and electrical fixtures, roofing and siding products too, although the effects from the pandemic won’t be as bad as its been for lumber.

“It’s difficult because lumber always moves, and we’re okay with that, you know. But the way it has moved now, is just such a drastic way that we can’t control and we can’t forecast,” he said.

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