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SPECIAL REPORT: Lumber shortage impact in central Wisconsin

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CENTRAL WISCONSIN (WAOW) -- It's no secret, we've seen all types of shortages since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including lumber. We dug deeper to see how that specific shortage is impacting residents in central Wisconsin.

With many people forced to stay home during the pandemic, contractors said they've noticed a heightened desire for home improvement projects. While others are going into retirement and looking to build a new, forever home.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average price of a new single-family home is up nearly $36,000.

"I personally have had lots of call, all my members have had lots of calls and we've had to schedule out to next year already," Cory Sillars, Owner of Dan Sillars General Contractor, Inc. and president-elect of Wisconsin Builders Association said.

He said the spike in prices for products to build and renovate start back at the lumber yard.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average price of a new single-family home is up just under $36,000.

"COVID creating social distancing at the manufactures and having to slow production when demand has not slowed and has really increased this year couple with the lower interest rates that's been going on so long, it's really been an incentive for people who have been waiting to remodel to do them now," Sillars said.

Meanwhile, Weston resident Kevin Carpenter recently went into retirement and he is now in the process of building a home. The hike in prices isn't stopping area families like Kevin's from getting projects done, partly because of interest rates and a hot housing market.

"It's extremely attractive for first-time home buyers to try to get into something," Kevin said.

"A couple of the builders said their clients were still going forward with the new house because they were selling a house and with this market and the used housing, they're getting enough to cover the increased prices," Sillars said.

Regardless, residents are feeling the impact in their wallets.

"I just talked to my builder Saturday. For an example, a sheet of flooring or siding whatever you want to call it, think of it as a 4x8 sheet of plywood. A year to 18 months ago was about $17-18, 20 a sheet is now over $60 a sheet," Kevin said. "[I've] gone to a smaller footprint on the size, obviously we've come down a little bit."

Sillars said there has been some hang-up when it comes to getting new clients but at the same time, their calendar is already booked well into next year with new projects.

As for when numbers could get back to normal, Sillars said there is no way to know right now.

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Neena Pacholke

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