The results of a survey asking about the effects of the current crisis in the cost and availability of building material paints a grim picture of just how deeply the crisis has cut into profits, company growth and the ability to complete jobs on time and on budget. At a time when things are opening up post-COVID and demand for construction and remodeling services is through the roof, the cramp on JLC-community businesses is severe, with nearly 70% reporting work lost or delayed by exorbitant material costs or lack of material availability. The only silver lining seems to be that some of this work will come back, as many contractors are simply advising customers to wait it out if they can. There is no lack of work, as there are many more prospects lining up, but not all are either willing or able to pay current prices.

A total of 261 respondents completed the survey over a 10-day period in May, 2020. Here's a look at their responses to each question:

1. What building materials and components are the most problematic for you in terms of price volatility or availability/wait times? This one is pretty obvious to most readers. Lumber stood out the most as a source of pain on the price front, with more than 73% naming lumber, called out as rough lumber, sawn lumber, softwood framing stock, dimensional or 2x material.

Sheathing, both plywood and OSB, was called out specifically by 63% of respondents. And treated, or PT wood, named by 42%.

Windows and doors stood out as the items described in a number of ways as having the longest lead times; the wait seems to have changed from about 2-3 weeks to 8 to as much as 17 weeks. Lighting, electrical and plumbing fixtures, cabinets, and appliances were the items that follow sash goods for long lead times.

But these were not the only items mentioned, by any means. As one respondent worded it: "Frickin everything!" Indeed, other materials mentioned include: moldings, cedar shingles, copper wire, switch boxes, conduit, steel, metal roofing, drywall, drywall compound, concrete, siding decking, composite decking, plastics, PVC pipe, trusses, I-joists, LVL, HVAC equipment, and hot water heaters.

Other products specified for which the wait times have been lengthened included garage doors, polyiso insulation, security hardware, and tile.

Frustration about the high pricing was evident in many of the responses, as some lashed out to express feelings that manufacturers and distributors are taking advantage of the situation. Others expressed exasperation at "the greed," and more than one respondent suggested that "a boycott" against big lumber companies and retailers should be organized.

On the other hand, many of our own seem to have added to the problem, having hoarded materials over the past fall and winter. Such a response, especially from large builders who have the capital to secure large stock piles of materials, especially plywood, is not necessarily easing their own pain (they are still not able to secure all the goods they need) and is compounding the problem for others.

A number of respondents also explored out loud their interest in pursuing other construction paths, looking into different paneling products such as Densglas and Secureock as alternatives to OSB and plywood, and exploring concrete and ICF construction as alternatives to framing with wood.

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