Plastic shortage, price rise impacts homebuilders

The price of lumber has been high, but it should be cooling soon. Even so, the price of plastic is now said to be going up.

It is having a big effect on homebuilders, riding the waves of fluctuating material prices.

Bob Nell, manager at Ace Hardware in Mequon, said lumber prices are starting to drop. 

"For dimensional lumber, for instance, like 2x4's that seemed to have peaked in May, early to mid-May, and we’re starting to see price decreases there," said Nell.

But the price of plastic is going up.

"Saw it last (year), I mean spring, with toilet paper and different products. But, now you’re seeing it with construction materials," said Nell.

Nell said local businesses are stocking up, primarily on PVC pipes.

"When people realize that a product is in short supply, they tend to purchase more," said Nell. "Whether they’re in, plumbing, contractor or construction, they’re going to want to load up on those materials."

Nell said even some materials simply encased in plastic are seeing a slight rise in price.

"If they can’t get the bottles, or containers to package them in, that creates an issue there," said Nell. "If we do see cost increases, we’re having to pass that along."

Nell said a shortage is causing the higher prices. The shortage is likely impacted by damage done to pipes in winter – especially in Texas, where hundreds of thousands of homes were without power, not equipped to protect the pipes amid a cold snap.

"That’s I think when we really started to see supply issues there," said Nell.

Nell warns local panic buying could only lead to more problems.

"We’re doing our best. And I think, if you look at our shelves, we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping everything stocked," Nell said.

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