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Lumber prices through the roof

Homebuilders in our area are bagging projects they'd planned for months.

DALTON, Pa. — Scott LaCoe, the owner of Dalton Do It Center in Lackawanna County, expected the lumber market to essentially go back to normal after the winter. Buying would slow down, stockpiles would build up, and the shortage of lumber he's been dealing with for almost a year now wouldn't be a problem anymore.

But that didn't happen. Instead, lumber prices are through the roof.

"We're looking at triple of what it was last year on certain items," said LaCoe.

Newswatch 16 was here in June of last year, just as lumber yards were beginning to feel the pinch with shortages.

LaCoe says the demand has stayed about the same since then, so what has changed?

"Primarily right now, we're hearing it's shipping. Trucking is very difficult right now. There's not as many truck drivers, and there's not as many trucks on the road. I also just found out last week about a rail car shortage, so mills have lumber, but without rail cars moving around the country, it's creating a shortage, and all that does is create price increases."

The summer months are usually the busiest time of the year for construction. But LaCoe says it will be hard to predict what will happen this year because those sky-high lumber prices might scare off some builders. It's a trend he's already seeing.

"We're seeing some contractors are having to back out of contracts that were priced last fall because the prices have just gone up so much, they would be losing money."

And the increase in lumber prices is driving up the price of new homes.

The National Home Builders Association is calling on lawmakers to examine the lumber supply chain and come up with solutions.