Issaquah Cedar and Lumber, located just outside of Seattle, gets wood shipped in from Canada.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, suppliers struggled with staffing shortages and stopped taking orders. With less supply, prices went up.
“The cost of inventory is twice what it was previously,” said Issaquah Cedar and Lumber Owner Chad Amble. “So, just being able to afford to carry that much inventory can be a little bit difficult.”
Amble used to pay $8 for a 4 x 8 foot piece of plywood. Now, he’s paying over six times as much. That’s not the only problem. Demand for lumber is also on the rise.
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“Sales across the building industry spiked,” Amble said. “All the Do it yourselfers were coming out to do their own projects, which created this huge demand for material. But, there was no production behind it to supply it.”
The shortage is felt beyond the lumber mills, like with home improvement companies.
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“Six months ago, we were still getting delivery times for some wood, windows and doors a year and a half out,” said Window Fellas Owner Petr Gvozd.
Gzovd buys lumber from Amble for window and door replacements. He used to order every few weeks. Because of shipping delays, now it’s several months in advance. This makes scheduling renovations tougher.
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“It was difficult to get people on board to do the job if we were not able to give them exact dates,” Gvozd said. “Like when we’ll have all the stuff that we need to do the job.”
This is uncharted territory for people and businesses who depend on lumber.
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“We’re at a point now where I’ve never been before,” Amble said. “The building industry is going to have to start adjusting to what’s available on the supply side.”