Affordable housing takes another hit as price of building materials skyrocket

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The homebuilding and remodeling industry is one that has not only survived the pandemic but has been thriving during the age of COVID-19.

But some of the manufacturers that service those builders and remodelers have a hard time keeping factories running during the pandemic.

Now, demand has outstripped supply.

Because of that, the cost of some building materials have skyrocketed and are driving up the cost of housing and renovations even more

"My wife and I went to the Raleigh Home Show, I believe was in January of last year, and met our builders there," Ned Freer told ABC11 at his north Raleigh home where the kitchen has now been gutted.

Freer and his wife had planned to start their kitchen renovation in the spring of the last year.

The start of the pandemic delayed them for a couple of months and then the building boom took off before they could schedule the project.

So, here they are a year later, just getting started on their kitchen renovation.

And now the cost of that project is significantly higher than it would have been a year ago.

But Freer doesn't blame their contractors saying, "I know that Dave and Peggy aren't the ones who are making the plywood and cutting the wood; that they are purchasing it from others."

Freer is talking about Peggy Mackowski and her husband, Dave, who own Quality Design & Construction.

In the Freers' gutted kitchen, she talked about the rapid increase in material prices.

"We get weekly reports from our suppliers telling us how much stuff is going up that week," Peggy Mackowski said, "Some of my suppliers will only guarantee their prices for 14 days because the prices are rising so rapidly."

Mackowski is a member of the Homebuilders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

The association told ABC11 that material-price increases mean the cost of building is rapidly rising and every $1,000 jump in housing prices pushes 800 local families out of the market.

The cost increases are mainly on the lumber side according to the National Homebuilder's Association, especially composite materials that use resin or glue, like something called OSB or oriented strand board, which is often used like plywood.

"There's a shortage of resin right now. So, that's increased the cost of OSB, to go from $11 sheet to about $36 a sheet, if you can find it," Peggy Mackowski said.

Mackowski estimates the cost of her materials could be as much as 30% higher over this time last year.

She said believes pandemic issues in manufacturing plants combined with 2020's hurricanes, wildfires and floods destroying homes are the main catalysts behind the increases her company has no choice but to pass along to clients like the Freers.

Although Quality Design & Construction had its best year ever in 2020 and hopes to do as well again this year, Mackowski says she doubts prices of materials will ever go back down.

She just hopes they level off once the pandemic ends.

But for those trying to achieve the American dream of homeownership, the pandemic has pushed it further out of reach.
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