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The impact of Hurricane Harvey on the price of building supplies is not only being felt across Texas, but across the country.
At Heights Lumber & Supply in Harker Heights, Kelly Eakin, sales manager and family partner, estimates prices could rise as much as 20 percent.
“Pretty much before the storm hit, building material prices were at their high point for the season,” Eakin said.
Suppliers like Heights Lumber & Supply were anticipating needing lower inventory, and offering lower prices.
“Everyone began buying as soon as the storm hit,” Eakin said. That demand, with her suppliers having low inventory, forced prices to rise quickly.
Jimmy Parker, owner of 195 Lumber in Killeen, has witnessed the increased prices for building supplies, and increased demand.
That means a decrease in availability, according to Parker.
OSB — which is wafer board — and sheet rock are harder to get, Parker said. “Trucking is also a problem.”
In his 47th year in the business, Parker has seen trends come and go. He deals with approximately 40 construction companies in Central Texas.
Parker noted that some “panic buying” occurred immediately after Hurricane Harvey. Down the road, he foresees shortages in not only wood, but moulding, flooring, and especially doors.
At Sutherland’s HomeBase in Copperas Cove, store manager Mark Dremel hasn’t yet noticed the increase.
That’s because his store still has stock bought prior to the hurricanes on their shelves.
He does anticipate prices rising in the near future. “It’ll be 5 to 10 percent, at the most,” Dremel said.
Jason Carney, assistant manager at Sutherland’s HomeBase, has noticed “buying frenzies” in recent weeks, as well. He attributes the cause to actual shortages of materials or perceived ones.
Parker has noticed that another factor in the rebuilding of hurricane ravaged areas will be a shortage of help.
That will cause additional increases in costs, due to higher wages for those workers.
The initial spurt in building supply demand will last about two months on the short term, Parker predicts. “It may pick up later, when rebuilding starts” in earnest on the South Texas coast.
Calls to a number of area home builders were not answered, and the Central Texas Homebuilders Association did not respond to a phone message, requesting their perspective on the situation.
Even in Springfield, Mass., people planning to build homes are being warned their costs may rise, according to TV station WWLP.
Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, reported “In the aftermath of the devastating storm, demand for softwood lumber is expected to increase dramatically.”
Eakin summed up the uncertainty suppliers are feeling. “Who knows what the prices are going to do once the rebuilding gets under way?”
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