Leena Robinson

More than 35 organizations, including the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging the secretary to turn her “immediate attention” to the price of lumber. The coalition, led by the NAHB, wrote a letter requesting an examination of the lumber supply chain, “identify[ing] the causes for high prices and supply constraints, and seek[ing] immediate remedies that will increase production.”

The letter underscored the urgency of the matter, highlighting how lumber prices have nearly tripled and how OSB prices have increased by 250% since last spring.

“These spikes have caused the cost of building an average new single-family home to increase by more than $24,000 since mid-April 2020 according to the NAHB standard estimates of lumber used to build the average home,” the letter states. “Similarly, the cost of the average new multifamily unit has increased by $9,000 over the same period due to the surge of lumber prices.”

The letter informs Secretary Raimondo that builders and other construction firms have signed fixed-price contracts and have been forced to absorb increases in material prices and costly delays in deliveries.

“There is a significant risk that many of these firms will be forced out of business,” the coalition writes in the letter. “To the extent they are able to pass on their additional costs, both single- and multifamily housing becomes less affordable. Other projects will no longer be economically viable, which undercuts the availability of new housing supply and further jeopardizes affordability.”

The letter urged Secretary Raimondo to “undertake a thorough examination of the lumber supply chain and seek remedies that will increase production.”

Over the summer in 2020, the NAHB sent similar letters concerning soaring lumber prices to former President Donald Trump, former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Zoltan van Heyningen, the executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.