Home Building Gets More Difficult Amid Higher Costs, Scarcer Materials | News

Do you think it’s difficult to buy a house these days? Building one isn’t better.

Just as inventory runs out of existing homes, so there are many components in the construction supply chain that go into building a new home.

“There are some things that we can’t even get right now, like certain types of beams, floor joists and engineered wood,” said Dustin Adams of Daniel Adams Construction. “We try to fragment things or have to look outside our usual brands. It’s just one more hoop that we have to go through.

A nationwide shortage of lumber is just one of the supply challenges facing Moore County home builders this spring. Indeed, lumber prices have skyrocketed over the past year, making it not only expensive but hard to find. But scarcity does not only belong to lumber. Vinyl siding, appliances, new windows and doors are all getting harder to find by the day.

Adams, a local second-generation home builder, said material shortages made it harder to meet construction schedules and “as efficient as in the past” pricing.

Translation: this new house becomes much more expensive for people who would rather build rather than buy an existing house.

The genesis of the lumber problem began over a year ago when sawmills and other manufacturing companies shut down or slowed down due to the pandemic. The idea at the time was that an economic crisis would ensue and interest in new construction would wane.

This does not happen. Instead, the real estate market stuck and do-it-yourselfers stepped out of the proverbial woodwork to tackle home improvement projects, increasing the demand for lumber and other building materials.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the cost of lumber has climbed more than 200% in the past year. This spike added over $ 24,000 to the average price of a single family home. A single 4-by-8-foot sheet of particle board, commonly used in roofing and walls, costs around $ 40. Its normal price is around $ 10 a sheet.

But rising material costs aren’t the only problem. Getting what you need when you need it is a whole different matter.

Brandon Haddock of Pinehurst Homes, another local second-generation builder, said a company his company regularly uses for custom windows has a 26 week lead time.

“It has always been a question of price, price, price. Now the focus is on the turnaround time, ”he said. “A lot of things – if it’s not a wood product – the price hasn’t necessarily gone up, but the delivery time has. “

Pinehurst Homes builds six to eight custom homes in a typical year, as well as four to six historic whole-home renovations, including work on many of the early homes built in Pinehurst.

“Delivery times are a concern and there has been an increase in the cost of lumber, but neither has seemed to be slowing down the industry as a whole,” Haddock added.

These days, he’s telling new customers that they’ll have to wait several months for a custom design, let alone an actual build. He said they are also building more custom homes in the mid to upper price ranges based on demand.

Paula Nash, executive director of the Moore County Homebuilders Association (MCHBA), said the region’s buzzing real estate market touches all facets of the construction industry.

“I get daily calls from people looking for a builder that is still available. Most have six to nine months on projects and our custom builders typically have five to seven contracts pending, ”Nash said.

“Our builders did not slow down throughout the pandemic. They just adjusted around it.

Nash joined the MCHBA last September. A long-time resident of the region, she had previously worked in the sales of building materials, then served as managing director of the MidCarolina Regional Association of Realtors, then briefly worked remotely for an Australian company before the pandemic struck. She sees her main job as defending builders at municipal government level.

“Rather than fighting to build prescriptions, I approach this as a partnership. They have a job to do and we have a job to do. So how do we do it together in Moore County the best we can, ”Nash said.

And so far, everything is going well, she added, when it comes to working with local cities on their regulations. For example, the Town of Pinebluff contacted MCHBA recently to seek feedback on a proposed new pricing structure for building permits.

“We are discussing the impact of guidelines and fees on builders and trying to strike a balance. This is the kind of conversation we need to have.

“Exceeding our resources”

There are about 1.9 million new construction starts in any given year, Nash said, while wood capacity hovers at 1.3 million homes.

When COVID hit sawmills started laying people off and now find it has been difficult to attract them again. She blames the unemployment benefit programs that have been extended and notes that fewer people have entered the tree industry and the skilled trades in general.

“As long as the government pays people to stay in their homes, they will stay in their homes,” Nash said. “It’s not just a North Carolina issue and it’s not just about staffing factories. “

Brandon Haddock with Pinehurst Homes outside new construction in Seven Lakes West. Ted Fitzgerald / The Pilot

Haddock, chairman of the board of directors of the MCHBA, said that anyone working in the skilled construction trades “is worth their salt is busy and reserved.”

“The workforce is a problem. Plumbing, carpentry, tiling, electrical work, if you have these skills you don’t have to wait for a phone call. It has been a problem for a long time. We are growing and exceeding our resources.

In recent years, the MCHBA has partnered with Sandhills Community College to create its skilled trades training programs. This fall, students have the option of registering for Level 1 HVAC and Plumbing courses in addition to a Construction Management program. MCBHA hosts an annual golf tournament to raise scholarship funds for aspiring students in the construction industry. CSC also offers scholarships, including the Governor’s Emergency Assistance Scholarship (GEER) for qualified students pursuing continuing education programs for the in-demand workforce such as construction, medical services, etc. emergency, healthcare, industrial manufacturing, information technology, and fire and rescue services.

Lori Degre, senior director of vocational training at CSC, said construction program instructors are needed, especially as the trades program grows. “We hope to add different types of classes in the future, such as tiling and masonry.”

Nash said retired builders would be ideal candidates to teach the next generation.

“You have to be able to have people ready to show the way if there are young people who want to get into this profession. Our builders are dealing with who they can find, but they need more staff. “

Adams, who also sits on the MCHBA board of directors, said he sees changes happening in the way people view the skilled trades.

“There is a cultural change. Being a craftsman once again becomes a more respectable career. So I’m happy to see that, ”he said.

“Personally, I feel good about what I do. It’s hands-on work and it’s a tough, physically tough career. But there is a lot of pride that comes with it. That’s what we’re starting to see coming back to.

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