By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
High prices and material delays blamed on the coronavirus pandemic continue to plague the construction industry even as the illness loosens its grip on the nation.
Just this week, lumber companies in Montana reported further delays due to flooding in the Pacific Northwest, which has pushed back shipments of wood to retailers and contractors.
But the same conditions that caused concerns for the construction industry at the height of the pandemic are still in play — primarily labor shortages and transportation delays.
“Trucking is slowing things down,” said Rod Schutzman with Builders First Source in Cody. “You know, supply and demand, things are so busy. Winter hasn’t hit, and housing starts across the U.S. are still at a good record pace, it’s just taking more time because of trucking.”
Schutzman said prices had dropped off recently, but they are beginning to tick up again.
“I got another report today and it’s on the rise again,” he said. “So I don’t know after the New Year what’s going to happen. It could be a lot like what we’ve seen this summer, June, July and August.”
Ken Gould at Knecht Home Center in Sheridan said it’s not just lumber deliveries that have been delayed.
“Fiberglass, rebar — we’re gonna have that come in maybe Monday or Tuesday of next week, and that’s been on order for over two months,” he said. “There are no subfloor adhesives available, everything’s out. Spray foam insulation in a can is pretty much non-existent at this moment. They keep pushing everything back into January and into February.”
Gould said that transportation issues and labor shortages in the factories that produce construction materials have played major factors in the shortages, in addition situations like the natural disasters that have affected the lumber market in the northwest.
“I heard about the flooding, and that could be an explanation as well,” said Gould. “The prices are going up – everything’s going up.”
Schutzman pointed out that despite delays, the materials are still available.
“It just takes longer to get it, but there’s still wood out there.”