Building Material Prices: Large Increases Year to Date

Filed in Economics, Material Costs, Trends by on September 9, 2021 10 Comments

Although the recent drop in softwood lumber prices since mid-May is helping bring costs down (after having driven them up drastically earlier in the year), the decline has been offset by large increases in the prices of several other building material products.

The prices of these 10 have increased the most thus far in 2021, and all are up at least 30%:

    • Steel mill products
    • Building paper and building board mill products
    • Asphalt
    • Plastic water pipe
    • Fertilizer materials
  • Laminated veneer lumber
  • Thermoplastic resins and plastics materials
  • Structural metal joists and concrete reinforcing bars
  • Wood window and door frames
  • Copper pipe and tube

Over the first seven months of 2021, the majority of these products’ prices have increased many times more than they did in 2020. The price change of steel mill products is the most glaring example, up 81.3% year to date following a 2020 increase of 11.1%.

The prices of a subset of building materials were stable in 2020 but have seen substantial price increases in 2021.

Some building materials and inputs to building materials have seen especially acute increases over the last three months.  Of the goods analyzed here, nine experienced price increases exceeding 20% between April and July:

  • Laminated veneer lumber
  • Building paper & building board mill products
  • Fertilizer materials
  • Plastic water pipe
  • Fabricated structural metal
  • Other engineered structural wood members
  • Copper pipe and tube
  • Steel mill products
  • Aluminum base scrap

NAHB economist David Logan provides more analysis in this Eye on Housing blog post.


Comments (10)

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  1. John Dupree says:

    Everyone wants a piece of the COVID windfall.

  2. Jim McDonald says:

    How do I determine the right time to build? I’m told by contractors and the lumber stores that although prices of wood used for framing has went down for the past 7 or eight weeks, the savings hasn’t been passed onto the lumber store enabling the contractor to adjust building costs. Why?

  3. Drew Carter says:

    Simply stating which products have increased by how much is fine, but how about a little background as to why? There were great articles about the lumber increases over the last 18 months, but steel? What is driving that? Plastics? Copper? And why so late in the “game”? It certainly does seem like a number of industries are simply capitalizing on the pandemic panic , but I would like to believe there is at least some good reasoning to support at least a portion of these increases – and who is investigating it?

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