One Shreveport couple is not letting inflation ruin their dreams of beautifying Shreveport.
Susana and Peter Cerwinski joined the Shreveport community in 2017, after living in numerous cities all over the United States.
Susana a native to Ayacucho, Peru, brings a flare of South America with her, taking her vision of the old and new and creating something beautiful. Peter a Virginian is just along for the ride, taking Susana’s visions and making them a reality.
During the Cerwinski’s 8-year-long marriage they have done over six home renovations and are hoping to make this hobby a lifelong career.
With a year of uncertainity from a global pandemic, this couple is anxious to explore the renovation world with lumber at an all-time high since 1997 and a newly acquired home.
“It is going to be a risk,” said Susana.
The couple bought a home back in 2019, in the Springlake neighborhood and finished just months before COVID-19 made an appearance. They are confident in this new renovation but are expecting to see prices increase.
“I would think that if these prices continue what we did with this house, I think we spent 40k in renovations here. It will probably maybe be 20-30 percent more at the other house. We will probably end up spending close to 70 or 80,” said Peter. “We are hoping prices will come down.”
The National Association of Home Builders reported that the price in lumber is adding nearly $36,000 to new home prices.
Lumber is not the only building material that has seen an influx since 2020, but copper and wire as well.
“Copper and wiring are right behind it, as far as something increased. There are just not as many dollars of that in a house. Little price fluctuations like that can be absorbed but lumber there is so much wood in building a house,” said Dixey Robertson, Executive Officer, Home Builders Association of Northwest Louisiana.
The price of lumber is up by 250 percent since last April. In April of 2020, contractors and home renovators could buy a thousand boards for roughly $350, today that same lumber is near $1,200.
Robertson gave a three-prong list of what is attributing to this influx in lumber prices:
- Mills anticipated a decrease in demand for lumber but there was an increase in demand.
- Mills saw a shortage in labor, much like all the United States due to COVID-19.
- Tariff policy with Canada went into effect after the new administration entered the White house.
This tariff policy was put into effect to combat alleged unfair Canadian trade practices.
On May 21, the White House announced a proposed hike in tariff’s on Canadian lumber by 9 percent, which would aid in the growing problem in housing affordability in the United States.
Renovations and lumber
“I think the big prices are going to be with flooring, tile, and any type of lumber we have to buy,” said Peter. “I do all the woodwork and stuff and prices have gone up.”
Robertson said that lumber is a part of every little thing from cabinets, flooring, and fences.
“Six months ago, plywood was about $37 to $40 now it’s costing you anywhere from $80 to $100,” said local carpenter and investor Salvador Gonzalez. “It’s a lot of increase.”
Plywood is a friend to any renovator or builder due to its versatility and that price increase can make a project increase by half. Builders across the nation are halting the production of homes due to the risk of spending more than what the market can support.
Robertson pointed out that if a house increases by $36,000 due to price inflation in items such as lumber the market and comparable homes cannot support that increase.
Say one house was built in the middle of 2020 before building materials increased and it remained vacant and on the market. Then the builder decides to build the same house when building material prices increase. Those houses are the same homes it just cost the builder more to build the second house.
This could be a problem for builders and Robertson said that many builders here in our region have decided to wait until the economy is stable. New subdivisions have slowed down on production due to this inflation.
Future of construction
“People usually say go ahead and get it done,” said Gonzalez.
The future of construction is in full swing. The Cerwinskis are still pursuing their passion to take homes that lack love and make them beautiful.
This couple is prepared for any price inflation. They are accustomed to scouring local areas and beyond Shreveport to find the best deals.
“We are hoping the prices come down. I think we will be able to cut a little bit of cost because most of the work we do ourselves,” said Peter. “We know we are going to save in a lot of ways.”
Robertson said that the prices have stabilized, for the most part, meaning the highest prizes on items such as lumber have seen their peak. This may mean that some form of stability is returning for the construction community.