The weekend warrior phenomenon goes only so far in accounting for the shortage of building materials that everyone down the supply chain is experiencing, from suppliers, to home building centres, contractors and homeowners.
Wayne Park recognizes the so-called weekend warrior phenomenon, whereby cottage owners and seasonal residents are turning to handyman projects such as decks and fences to keep busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Home building centres are struggling to keep up with the demand for pressure-treated wood.
However, pressured-treated wood is not the only problem. Park is facing both delays and a shortage of supplies to complete his retirement home in Meaford. Some supplies are unavailable while others are delayed, and prices have skyrocketed. “Last year, four or five B.C. sawmills shut down when inventory was high and the price of lumber dropped,” he said. “Now prices have increased, I would say, by 50 per cent. The supply of kitchen cabinets is fine. Siding is not a problem. Windows take a lot longer. You can still get spruce 2x4s but you might have to wait. But items out of Italy or China are not available. Prices have skyrocketed. It comes down to supply and demand. When builders are in a pinch, suppliers have no mercy.”
Brent Green, owner of Ground-up Contracting Ltd. in Meaford, puts the increase in prices at 20 to 30 per cent, so far. Green was shut down for one and a half months during the lockdown beginning mid-March. Since then, he has more than enough work to keep three workers and himself busy. Summer is his busy season for deck building and winter is the season for bath and basement renovations. “The wait time for decking material is not too bad,” he said. “I can get it within a week. Siding, windows and doors, in four to six weeks which is pretty common.”
Knights' Home Building Centre is getting calls for pressured-treated wood from all over the province. They have lots, but they're taking care of the local contractors first.
The lockdown in mid-March created a market uncertainty that affected what stock Knights’ Home Building Centre ordered and how much they ordered, according to Tyler Knight. “ We cut back on our spring orders that had not been placed. We were worried the products that we had already received would not sell. We did not expect consumers to spend the way they did,” Knight explained. “Pressure-treated lumber arrives in December and January. Fertilizer and lawn care products are ordered in September and arrive in March. Barbecues were a item we did not order before the pandemic and we were not able to get a full supply once we got hit by the demand.”
The building centre was well stocked in pressure-treated lumber going into the pandemic. Beginning in late June, Knight started to notice a shortage of supply of pressure-treated lumber, spruce lumber, and plywood.
“Our supplier was able to continue with our supply of pressure-treated lumber, but other local stores were dealing with shortages, causing higher demand for us,” he said. “Many stores cancelled or cut back on their spring pressure-treated lumber orders and the raw materials ended up going into the U.S. market to meet their demand. Increased demand has been a big factor for many areas. We have been getting calls as far away as Ottawa, Toronto, and Hamilton when word got out that we had stock. We have been trying to curb this demand to ensure we have stock for our local customers and contractors. In the end they are the ones that will shop at our store when demand returns to normal.”
Delays on other products vary from reasonable to hit-and-miss, according to Knight. “Custom-ordered products have been delayed since the March shutdown. Product delays are hit-and-miss. Interior doors, for example. Some styles have eight-week or longer lead times while others we can see within a couple of weeks. Our main bathroom vanity supplier is an extra four to six weeks, while our kitchen supplier has been able to maintain a reasonable delay.”