Soaring lumber prices drive up costs for nonprofits

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - If you’re building a home or doing some renovations, you know lumber prices continue to skyrocket. That’s making projects pricier. And some nonprofits are feeling the pinch because of that, too.

“So we’ve had to get really creative,” said Bruce Landry, a site supervisor for Habitat for Humanity.

Landry says that’s because they have a tight budget. They’re building a home for a single dad and his kids. The cost to build the house can only be 30% of what that father earns for a living.

“Their income is not going to change. So our budget does not change,” Landry said.

But expensive building supplies make it difficult. Plus, Habitat for Humanity homes need to meet Vermont efficiency standards.

“Price increase was a little steep. The house we did three years ago new construction in Randolph-- budget ended up being $110,000 when they were done. My budget here is $150,000,” Landry said.

They’re not the only nonprofit struggling with the increased cost of building supplies. Habitat for Humanity official tells me that Salvation Army had to cancel a project this year because supplies cost too much.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a hike in price, I’d say it’s one heck of a hike in price,” said Joe Miles, the owner of the RK Miles Corporation.

Miles says prices soared two to three times higher than they were a year ago.

“We’re all sick of hearing about COVID, but COVID had an impact not only on the supply side but on the demand side. Kind of the other side of that is, frankly, I think, the industry was caught flatfooted,” Miles said.

He says mills were caught off guard by the demand for building materials during the pandemic.

For nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity, when their projects can’t be finished within budget, it’s the nonprofit that has to eat the bill. They’re solely funded with grants and donations.

As for when we can expect prices to get back to normal...

“I gotta believe by the end of this building season,” Miles said.

In the meantime, Landry says Habitat for Humanity is looking for “donations, donations, donations” and volunteers.

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