Most Home Remodels Delayed by High Lumber Prices Have Resumed

Lumber prices home remodel

In 2020, just as a whole lot of bored consumers decided to remodel their homes, a complex combination of factors led lumber prices to hit an all-time high. Though the supply of raw materials remained steady, the pandemic forced many mills to close or slow production, leading to a veritable logjam in the supply chain. By May 2021, the price per 1000 board feet was up 549% from pre-COVID-19 prices in March 2020. Remodeling costs soared, pushing the cost of building a new home up by an average of $36,000. But since May, prices have fallen almost 71%, and according to a new study, homeowners who delayed projects due to high lumber prices are ready to pick up their hammers and get to work. surveyed 810 homeowners who either started or considered starting projects earlier this year to find out how lumber prices have affected their plans. They found that nearly two-thirds of those who delayed projects are now going to restart them.

Among the key findings in the report:

  • 77% of home improvement projects started in 2021 ended up costing more than expected due to the price of lumber.
  • Of home improvement projects that cost more than expected due to lumber prices, the average increase was 205% and the median cost increase was 40%.
  • 68% of those who started a home improvement project but saw the cost increase ended up delaying the project. When factoring in the projects that didn’t increase in cost, 55% of all home improvement projects were pushed back due to high costs.
  • 65% of those who delayed projects due to the high cost of lumber are restarting them soon now that lumber prices have dropped.

“We started seeing lumber prices fall quickly at hardware stores at the beginning of August,” says general contractor Ryan Dubois, as quoted in the report. “We are now scheduling most large jobs for about 5 months from now, after the holidays.”

And while 76% of respondents reported feeling worried about having a home improvement professional inside their home with the Delta variant of COVID-19 spreading, 64% of respondents would let the projects proceed anyway. 

Check out the full results of the study at

Image via Brock Builders / Flickr CC 2.0

Augmented Reality Will Soon Play a Bigger Role in Construction

Augmented reality (AR) is finding a place in many industries as the technology advances, and soon, it will be implemented in all sorts of aspects of construction. If you’re not familiar, AR is an interactive experience in which computer-generated information and graphics are superimposed over the real-world environment, usually using special glasses or headsets. Other ways it’s used include enhanced navigation systems that superimpose a route over your view of the road, apps that let you see how furniture will look in your home and digital models of human organs to guide surgeons through complex operations.

The Woodworking Network recently published a list of 5 ways AR will help make construction faster, safer and more efficient, and frankly, it’s pretty exciting. 

The first is project planning. Where you might once have relied on design sketches and your imagination, now you can view a virtual model of the project and make changes to it in real time, like adjusting certain things to the client’s satisfaction. Augmented reality will come in handy for measuring, too, using digital rulers to take measurements in seconds, which can help reduce inaccuracies that arise from human error.

The ability to interact with a building before it’s completed is another big one. For instance, it’s rarely particularly helpful to have an interior designer come onto an active work site and view a partially completed building in order to visualize how it should be decorated. Augmented reality, however, lets them see the full picture by viewing a digital finished version the site through a smartphone or tablet.

Augmented reality can be a big help in bringing teams together, too. Let’s say you have one person on site who needs help from someone located far away. An AR headset lets the remote employee see through the other employee’s eyes and display helpful information in their field of view.

Check out the whole piece at the Woodworking Network.

Image via BDC

More Developers are Choosing Wood Over Other Construction Materials

Contemporary apartment building made of wood at Hamburg

A new report in The New York Times outlines how climate change is spurring developers to increasingly choose wood over common construction materials like steel and cement, especially with the rise of cross-laminated timber (CLT).

Laminated wood panels are ultra-strong, and can be used as a primary material for tall wooden buildings. The market for “mass timber” buildings is rapidly growing in the United States and around the world.

“Developers are turning to wood for its versatility and sustainability. And prominent companies like Google, Microsoft and Walmart have expressed support for a renewable resource some experts believe could challenge steel and cement as favored materials for construction.”

“‘We are making huge headway in the U.S. now,’ said Michael Green, a leading mass timber architect for Katerra who is based in Vancouver, Canada, and designed the Catalyst Building and several more in North America.”

“Wood has several advantages over other building materials, including the ability to help curb climate disruption, that are driving the interest, he said. Steel and cement generate significant shares of greenhouse gases during every phase of their production. By contrast, wood stores carbon, offsetting the emission of greenhouse gases. ‘The environmental aspects alone are attractive,’ Mr. Green said. ‘Cross-laminated timber panels are faster to assemble. There’s much less construction site waste.’”

Using wood instead of heavier steel and cement can also save labor costs and come with other benefits.

“Another significant promoter is Hines, a global real estate investment, development and management firm based in Houston. Four years ago, Hines opened T3, a seven-story, 221,000-square-foot, cross-laminated timber office building in Minneapolis also designed by Mr. Green. The wood structure cost $60 million, 5 to 10 percent more than one built with concrete and steel. But the ease and speed of lifting and fitting manufactured pieces into place saves money on labor, said Steve Luthman, a senior managing director at Hines.”

“In addition to the labor savings, tenants are attracted to wood surfaces in work spaces. Hines sold the building in 2018 for $392 a square foot, a record for a Minneapolis office building.”

Eastern White Pine has been found to be structurally sound for use in cross-laminated timber by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, opening the door for this sustainable species to join others currently grown, harvested and processed for use in large mass timber construction projects.

Image via IWBC

Game Changer: Engineered Wood Opens Doors in the Construction Market


Is engineered wood ‘the new concrete?’ As demand grows, some industry sources say mass timber is set to open new doors in construction for the lumber industry, offering lucrative opportunities at the intersection of timber and tech. Advances in the processes used to make cross-laminated timber and other engineered wood products have set up a boom for tall wooden buildings with similar if not better structural integrity than those made with steel and concrete, making the construction industry as a whole more environmentally friendly.

Made from industrially dried quick-growing wood – including pine – CLT is up to four times lighter than reinforced concrete. A building made with CLT instead of traditional concrete uses up to 70 percent less material and can cut construction times by a third, sending project profitability through the roof. Developers are definitely taking note.

In a recent issue of the property insurer GenRe’s ‘Property Matters’ publication, Property/Casualty Senior Consulting Underwriter Leo Ronken examines “what’s so good about wood,” going down a long list of the attributes that have made engineered wood increasingly popular with architects, legislators and construction pros.

“In the global trend toward the construction of buildings that meet ecological needs, wood has some clear advantages over traditional construction materials such as steel and concrete. With advances in engineered wood materials and components come possibilities to construct increasingly larger buildings – a trend being witnessed around the world.”

Real estate services firm JLL has also noted the trend and what it could mean moving forward, calling it a ‘game changer.’

“The emergence of successful mass timber projects across all sectors is a trend which looks set to continue and develop as the industry demands more innovation. As Lucas Epp, Head of Engineering at StructureCraft in North America, says mass timber projects require fewer construction workers on site, less waste and higher quality of work. ‘Mass timber office buildings are also now competing with steel and concrete on cost,’ he adds.”

The forest products industry has long depended on single family homes, but mass timber opens the possibility of entrance into new markets where wooden framing was previously seen as inappropriate. Buildings made with mass timber are able to meet strict building codes, including those measuring fire resistance.

Another benefit of increased demand for CLT is the fact that it can be made with smaller, second-growth timber, reducing the need for so many big, solid logs from older trees and fueling greater efficiency at mills.

Image via

Prefabricated Wooden Building Elements Pay Off at the Construction Site

Wood construction is more sustainable, more beautiful, and might also be less expensive in the long run, according to a new report by Metsä Wood, a European wood construction supplier. The use of prefabricated building elements made out of wood allows faster building turnaround, leading to more profitable construction projects, shorter investment payback times and fewer on-site accidents.

The company looked at how utilizing these elements, like laminated veneer lumber roof panels, change the construction process at a building site. These panels can be assembled within a single working day, and ultimately provide on-site weather protection with no additional costs by sheilding the building site beneath much more effectively than a temporary tent.

With prefabrication, large sections of a building can be constructed offsite in a controlled indoor environment, reducing the risk of accidents and consequent delays.

“Assembling ready-made wood elements can replace the potentially more dangerous process of having to build a roof from beams, panels and bitumen at the heights of an unfinished building,” says Lambert van den Bosch, a project subcontractor in charge of wood construction at Heko Spanten. “On-site accidents are of course not frequent, but every single one of them should be avoided.”

It can also reduce on-site waste and the need to transport it after the project is done, as well as cutting back loose on-site building materials that can be unwieldy and difficult to protect from weather and theft.

Open House: Complex Structure Made of Nothing But Wood

timber house lausanne 1

Architecture students in Switzerland are getting a hands-on education not only in spatial possibilities when structures are freed from the limitations of conventionality, but also the use of wood as a primary building material. An international group of students at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) known as the ‘ALICE Laboratory’ has erected an architectural installation that’s basically a free-for-all in terms of its interior layouts, allowing participants’ imaginations to run wild. They call the result, House 1, “an unfolding evolution of a space that invokes questions, contains possibilities, and is open for interpretation, rather than a singular homogenous architecture.”

timber house lausanne 2

The aim was to create an open-air, pavilion-style structure containing a ‘genetic code’ for future developments, filled with examples of construction layouts and styles that can be repeated or expanded upon as needed. This modern interpretation of balloon-frame timber construction uses long vertical 2”x4”s for the exterior walls, with the long studs extending uninterrupted from the foundation to the roof, which is left unfinished in this case. Balloon framing was popular through the 20th century, until it was overtaken by platform-framing as the building method of choice. Assembling a balloon frame is described as being similar to weaving a basket, with pieces put up one at a time, but in an efficient sequence that reduces labor and equipment needs.

timber house lausanne 3 timber house lausanne 4

That sequence is what we see here, drawn out to almost cartoonish proportions, with one piece of wood after another added on in regular sequences that are broken up by fun and unexpected additions like a hole in the second floor filled with netting to create an oversized hammock, built-in shelves and framing for vertical gardens. The idea is that this sequence can be recreated quickly to create houses or simply temporary open-air pavilions for special events.

timber house lausanne 5 timber house lausanne 6

It’s cool to see modern architecture students doing innovative things not only with wood, but old-fashioned timber construction methods.