Nav Bar

Wisconsin Building Supply is a destination for industry insight and a marketplace for valuable products at discounted prices.

Please remember, item availability is not guaranteed. All sales are final. Upon request, purchased items can be transferred to the WBS location nearest you. For additional information on any of the items listed, please contact the WBS location carrying the item/s.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lumber Prices Moving Up

April 2010--The Framing Lumber Composite Price moved up 3% this week. The Structural Panel Composite Price moved up 7% this week with OSB leading the way with an 11% increase. Many buyers are reducing their purchases in an effort not to be caught on the wrong side of the market if and when it gives some of the recent price increases back. With mills booked out to the end of April, don't expect any give back in the near term.

In March the cost of a typical two story increased 3.74% for framing materials. This is an increase of 11.38% over last March. This is the highest the index has been since March of 2007. However, it is still 31% less than the high water mark of September 2004.

I often get asked about how to build "green." How do I make my project more "green?" How do I sell to a customer who wants to be "green?"

The term "green" has been abused as a marketing tool by modern day snake oil salespeople, manufacturers and well intentioned people who do not understand the whole process of construction and the need to provide a product that the market will accept. Fundamentally, the definition of "green" is tied to sustainability of the products used to create the project and the long-term consumption of resources used by the structure once completed. We could build a house out of mud and sticks, but if it costs a fortune to heat and cool in the future it wouldn't be very "green."

This balancing act and the preponderance of misinformation cause builders to be caught in the middle. Here are some of the things I have learned as a former builder and current building material supplier:

1) Being "Green" is not a destination. It is a scale of comparison. Things are only more green or less green when compared to another product. Therefore the term "green" should be modified to "greener." As in, this product is "greener" than the other product because it saves more energy.
2) Consider all aspect of the material and its intended use. Where was it made? How does it get here? What is it made of? Is it a proven technology or product? Will the market accept it? A great example is the composting toilet. It uses no water and creates mulch. This would seem to be a much "greener" product. However, the market is probably not ready for this. But, a dual flush toilet that uses less water than a typical toilet is typically accepted by the consumer. It is "greener" that a typical toilet yet it operates in a manner we are accustomed to.
3) Customers will only pay more to be "greener" for products and or technologies that they value. Otherwise, they will only opt to be "greener" if the pricing fits their budget. Door slabs manufactured in China are less expensive than locally produced panels. It is a much larger carbon footprint to ship in the panel from China. Typically customers will opt for this less expensive alternative even though they know it isn't green. However, paperless sheetrock or formaldehyde free carpet or water based stains containing no volatile organic compounds may be chosen if someone has a compromised immune system or allergies. They would choose this even if it may cost a little more because it directly impacts their quality of life.

What are the things you should do as a builder or contractor to help a consumer make a project "greener?"
· Reduce the size of home. Square footage is the single biggest issue in creating a "greener" project. This one thing reduces materials to construct and on-going resources needed to operate and maintain the home. Be creative in your use of space.
· Preach energy efficiency. Insulate. Upgrade appliances, furnaces, air conditioners. Put in better windows and doors. Use lighter colors on shingles. Plant shade trees as part of landscaping.
· Because "green" is not a destination, you must prioritize what you are going to make "greener." If you insulate well, sell it. If you are creative in your design and build a smaller more efficient home, sell that. If you upgrade widows and furnaces, sell that TOO. You cannot be everything to everyone.

As kids we were told "Waste not, want not." That is the message of how to be "greener." Please ask your salesman for tips and ideas on how you can make your project "greener" without breaking the bank.