Finish-grade plywood has a simple, clean beauty to it that can help refresh interior spaces in need of an update. A3A Arquitetos Associados made ample use of it at the Herdade dos Toucinhos Office Building in Portugal, completely transforming the layout of the existing building with new modular built-in units. Serving as the headquarters of an agricultural company as well as communal housing for farm workers, the building has to be multifunctional and use the available space wisely.
First and foremost, the architects lifted the roof and added skylights to take full advantage of abundant natural light during the day. This made room for a new intermediate mezzanine level that essentially doubles the building’s floor space. Instead of framing it out conventionally with drywall, they chose to create plywood-clad volumes that stand independently in the center of the building.
These new volumes divide up the wide open space of the building, creating a perimeter of hallways, interior spaces, ceilings for the lower level and a platform for the mezzanine. They include built-in storage, closets, benches, desks and lighting and lack any unnecessary hardware for a unified, uncluttered result. All exterior walls were maintained in their original condition to preserve the character of the building.
“This project embraces a modern, contemporary design, which starts from the analysis of tradition and its reinterpretation, its simplification and clarification, in a global strategy that aims to be minimalist and highly effective in functionally optimizing and preserving tradition.”
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.
Expertise.com 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.
For the first time in years, remodeling companies are seeing a considerable boost in business from one quarter into the next. Reports from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) show a steady increase in overall business conditions throughout 2013. Pent-up demand for home renovation projects has resulted in many companies seeing a backlog of work over the summer and fall.
Projects that have been postponed due to the economy are starting to pick back up, and are a key driver of growth. “The general sense is that consumers are tired of waiting and feel more secure about spending money, which is also reflected in the higher values in jobs sold,” says Tom O’Grady, chairman of NARI’s Strategic Planning & Research Committee.
Higher-value jobs sold, more inquiries, and conversion of bids to jobs are all up, while requests for bids remained the same as last quarter. Business ratings are high even going into the holiday season, which is traditionally a slower time.