Builders and Lumber Dealers See Shortages of Key Building Materials

Home builders and lumber dealers are reporting significant shortages of key home building materials such as lumber and wall board, according to recent surveys by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).

Washington, D.C.—Home builders and lumber dealers are reporting significant shortages of key home building materials such as lumber and wall board, according to recent surveys by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA).

Among builders, the highest incidence of shortages was for oriented strand board (OSB), with 22 percent of builders reporting shortages, followed by wall board (20 percent), framing lumber (18 percent) and plywood (18 percent). The builder results come from special questions added to the monthly survey that serves as the basis for the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), which is widely viewed as a key indicator of the overall strength of the home building market.

With the exception of wall board, the lumber dealers reported greater shortages of these products than the home builders. Among lumber dealers, 27 to 28 percent reported shortages of OSB and plywood, 36 percent reported shortages of framing lumber and 12 percent reported shortages of wall board. The dealer results come from a special survey of NLBMDA’s members, who operate single or multiple lumber yards and component plants and deal in many of the same products that NAHB members purchase.

Both the builder and lumber dealer surveys asked about shortages of 24 specific building products and materials. For most of the products, the share of builders reporting a shortage was considerably higher in May of 2013 than in 2011 or 2012. The only exceptions were copper wire, vinyl siding, HVAC equipment, insulation and structural insulated panels.

With the exception of concrete-related products, a larger share of lumber dealers than builders reported price increases in building materials over the past six months. On average, builders reported a 5.17 percent increase in the materials that go into a house over the past six months. Most lumber dealers reported that the prices of the products they handle had increased on average by 10 percent or more over the past six months.