A construction crew works on the framework of a new house located on Oliver Loving Drive in Killeen in 2018.

The prices of lumber have doubled, and more, in the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, causing building and developing costs to go up as well.

Fewer than 100 houses were on the market in the Killeen-Fort Hood area last week, and that can be contributed in part to developers struggling to get lumber and other building materials and the increased prices.

Don Farek, the owner of Cameo Homes, a local development company, explained how the prices have gone up and how it has impacted his business.

“They are double what we have been paying,” Farek said about lumber prices.

He added that the 2-by4 studs that they use to build houses have gone from $2.60 each in May 2020 to $6.88 apiece now. Also, the 4-by-8 pieces of plywood that builders use to deck roofs have gone from $8.99 each to $38.92 each now.

“This house that I based this on when I built it in May 2020, lumber cost us $17,900, and now the lumber cost of a house we just built was just under $40,000,” Farek said.

He went on to explain, in his understanding, why lumber prices have gone up so much.

“Like everything else, they blame COVID for it. They said that the reason when it first came out was that the mills got behind in production because of COVID. They didn’t realize that construction would continue,” Farek said. “We did not stop building in Texas because the governor saw construction as an essential business.”

He said that the demand for lumber is so high that the mills can’t keep up with that in their supply, so prices have gone up.

Andy Curtis, the president of Heights Lumber and Supply, also explained why he believes the prices have gone up.

“The onset of the price increase, it was a little bit of panic and decrease at the mill and manufacturing level. As COVID progressed, the decreased workforce created a supply shortage — not that there was as much demand then — but that’s not the case now,” Curtis said. “Toward the end of 2020, we saw the increase in demand, so mills started producing more, as much as they could with a still decreased workforce. “

Curtis sells lumber to developers and home builders that he gets from mills and manufacturers, but he said getting lumber in has been an issue.

“The main thing we’re dealing with now is just supply and demand. There is not one area of the country that is not seeing a tremendous increase in home building and commercial building,” Curtis said.

He added that the same order of lumber that used to take one or two weeks to come in, can now take months or may not be available.

One result of the increased lumber prices is that homes will also increase in prices, and in an Associated Press article in March, that increase was illustrated.

The median price of a new home sold in February was $349,400, up 5.3% from a year ago, according to the article.

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