Visualizing What $50k In Lumber Can Build Today Versus Last Year

Skyrocketing lumber prices have more than tripled over the past 12 months and made the cost associated with building an average new single-family home significantly rise. The folks at Visual Capitalist dove deeper into the lumber price storm to find out how many new single-family homes $50k in lumber can build today versus the same period in 2020. 

To calculate each home, Visual Capitalist used the following parameters:

  • Lumber requirements: 6.3 board feet (bd ft) per square foot (sq ft)

  • Median single-family house size: 2,301 sq ft

  • Total lumber required per single-family house: 14,496 bd ft

What they found was that $50k in lumber in 2015 could build 14.74 new single-family homes. By April 2020, the same price of lumber could build around 10.5 homes. And in May, after a meteoric rise in lumber prices, $50k in lumber could only build 2.11 homes. 

Here's a visualization of what $50k in lumber can build in May 2021 versus May 2020. 

On Friday, lumber prices rose at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to over $1,700 per 1,000 bd ft, closing up 2.49% to $1,686, fresh record highs. The chart below is in a parabolic move - almost like Bitcoin or Etherum. 

Despite Weyerhaeuser Co., Georgia-Pacific LLC, West Fraser Timber Co., Ltd., among others, attempting to increase output, lumber prices continue to soar and will likely remain elevated until new capacity comes online or the housing market frenzy loses steam. 

All this talk about "transitory" inflation is non-sense, as Bank of America elegantly put it: "Buckle up! Inflation is here." 

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