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

Cumberland’s council is looking at more ways to preserve its heritage not only through its museum and archives but through historic buildings. Record file photo
Cumberland considers density bonus to preserve heritage

The incentive is just one of many steps community looking at to protect older sites

Royston resident and photographer Tanja Kerr took a quick video of two eagles taking a quick dip in the water earlier this week. Video still/Tanja Kerr
Video: Eagle spotting in Royston

Photographer Tanja Kerr ensures her camera is always nearby

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Union Bay electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Angel Azul
World Community Film Festival reaches 30th year

Every February for the past three decades, World Community has hosted a… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

Most Read