Framing Lumber Prices Rise
The cost of lumber in the United States is approaching record highs as builders stock up for what is expected to be one of the busiest construction seasons in years.
In November, the Trump administration slapped a 20% import tax on Canadian lumber, claiming the industry was unfairly subsidized. Nationally, about 25% of framing material comes from north of the border, but in some areas of the west, it’s closer to 40%. Additionally, massive wildfires last summer destroyed prime forests in Oregon and Montana.
The price increase comes at a bad time for U.S. builders, which are already contending with labor shortages. “You have a kind of perfect storm brewing for the homebuilder,” says Jim Barbes, vice president of national sales at 84 Lumber Co., one of the nation’s largest lumber yards.
David Logan, director of tax and trade policy at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says that in some areas, lumber prices have increased 31% in the past 12 months, and are heading towards the highest level in 32 years. “We’re talking about the potential not just for a record-setting year, but one that is unprecedented,” he says.
TV News Promotes ICF
When the ready-mix concrete supplier in Marquette, Michigan chose to build a new plant with ICFs, the local news station gave the technology a big publicity boost. The segment covers how ICF construction works, its advantages, and why homebuilders should consider using ICFs. The news clip can be watched online on YouTube.
Andy Lennox, marketing manager for Logix ICF, the brand used, credits the local ICF distributor for doing all the hard groundwork. He adds, “ICF was wonderfully covered in the local news recently as Fraco Concrete chooses Logix ICF to build their new facility.”
Studies Confirm Resilient Materials Save Money
Last year was the most expensive year on record for disasters in the United States, thanks to powerful hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and devastating wildfires in the west. There were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters, with the cumulative damage of these events totaling $306.2 billion. That’s $100 billion more than 2005, the next highest year, when hurricanes Katrina and Ike devastated the Gulf Coast.
As expected, last year’s disasters also created the costliest year in history for the global insurance industry – totaling $135 billion – with the U.S. accounting for half of these costs.
The concrete construction industry hopes that these disasters will motivate the country to rebuild with disaster-resistant materials.
“There’s evidence that building with less resilient materials costs more in the long run,” said Robert Garbini, president of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association in a letter to The Orlando Sentinel. “Whether the issue is stability in the face of high winds, or rotting and molding after floodwaters, the materials used to build make a difference.”
Fab-Form Release Video Promoting ICF
Fab-Form, makers of the popular fabric footing material, released a video online explaining how the system works with ICF to reduce moisture penetration into buildings.
The narrator, Jeff Langford at JDL Homes, made the switch to Fastfoot footings and ICF more than two years ago. He says the flexible footing forms allow him to easily deal with uneven excavations, and protects the homeowner with a capillary break on his footings. The video can be viewed on the Fab-Form website.
New Corporate Office for BuildBlock
In January, BuildBlock Building Systems, the Oklahoma-based ICF brand, relocated their headquarters to a larger office space to accommodate growth. “Last year was the most successful year to date for BuildBlock and as we grow, our needs grow with us,” says Brian Corder, president of sales and marketing. “This new office space meets many of the needs our growing company has, and provides us with a beautiful and functional workspace for the coming years, allowing us to better serve our customers.”
Energy Efficiency Tax Benefits Preserved
In February, the U.S. Congress passed a budget act which extended two energy efficiency tax credits. Sections 179D and 45L of the code, create incentives of up to $1.80 per square foot for qualifying ICF buildings. The bill is retroactive, so structures built in 2017 qualify for the provision.
“Passage will allow projects placed in service in 2017 to be certified for qualifying energy tax incentives,” reports Walker Reid Strategies, a tax credit consulting firm partnered with PolyCreteUSA.
Dodge Data and Analytics has partnered with several large Canadian construction associations to significantly increase the number of projects and documents reported from that country. The move is anticipated to provide better value and coverage to their customer base.
Dodge has entered exclusive relationships with the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA) and the majority of local construction associations within the province of Ontario. Leveraging the analytical capacity and combined data sets of all parties, Dodge will further develop Canadian economic- and construction-related materials and forecasts for association members and Dodge customers.
The move is fortuitous for the ICF industry, as the improved data collection is primarily in Ontario and British Columbia, two regions that use ICFs extensively. Dodge estimates that 40% of all construction activity in Canada happens in Ontario.
“Through these strategic partnerships, Dodge is doubling down on Canadian construction and reaffirming its commitment to providing unparalleled market insights on Canadian construction activity,” said Mike Petrullo, CEO of Dodge Data. “As always, we will continue to seek new Canadian sources to enhance our coverage and the value we offer the industry.”
Dodge will continue to serve the Canadian market through a number of other channels, including a Canada-specific construction activity forecast. The semi-annual Canadian Construction Forecasting Service (CCFS) provides a detailed outlook for Canadian construction with a five-year forecast of building permits for 15 structure types, covering the nation, provinces and 10 largest metropolitan areas.
The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) Build With Strength campaign has released a series of videos highlighting the benefits of using ICFs. The 11-segment series explains how ICFs have made Kentucky’s public schools some of the strongest and most efficient in the country.
“Richardsville Elementary School is a school we have not had to pay an electric bill since it opened,” said Jay Wilson, facilities director for Warren County (Kentucky) Public Schools. “The building actually generates more electricity than it consumes. At the end of the school year we usually get a check back from the utility company in excess of $30,000.”
“One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen since moving to ICFs is the speed of construction,” said Kenny Stanfield of Sherman Carter Barnhart, the architecture firm for Jennings Creek Elementary. “ICFs allow us to build rapidly, saving man-hours and costs in the long run.”
The series of 11 videos can be viewed on YouTube or at the www.buildwithstrength.com website.