Construction costs could rise in wake of Florence

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Hurricane Florence has dropped trillions of gallons of water on the east coast causing billions of dollars in damage. There’s no question, people in its path have a monumental price to pay in recovery.

Still, folks in the Midwest in the market for a new home or renovation may feel it, too.

“Supply and demand, if the demand is going hugely up because of repairs in a region because of a hurricane, then it’s going to affect the rest of the country,” said Mike Zehner, a contractor in Evansville.

There is no substitute for hard work at Zehner’s job site on Tuesday. A couple of guys with a hammer and nail can testify.

It’s going to take a lot more hammers to fix the destruction left by the hurricane. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. It will take massive amounts of drywall, plywood, roofing, and a whole lot more to get the coast back to normal.

“The extent of the repairs and rebuilding is not known yet, because water is still rising,” Zehner said.

The storm has undoubtedly caused chaos, and it might send prices of building materials across the country skyrocketing. In the coming days, a single sheet of OSB wood is expected to double in price.

“It did the same thing last year when [Hurricane] Harvey and some of the other hurricanes came through,” said Jeff Head of Head’s Construction. “It was running 9 or 10 dollars a sheet, shot up to 20 plus dollars.”

That cost is passed on to customers, but Head says the threat of higher prices isn’t slowing the market. “The economy here is alive and well.”

Head says factories are working around the clock to be able to meet the demand, but Zehner worries costs may be counted outside the factory with more expensive labor.

“A lot of people will go down there to help and that could leave us shorter than we are already,” Zehner said.

If you need any building supplies like drywall or lumber, you better get it now. Experts say it could take a couple of months for prices to come back down.

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(This story was originally published September 18, 2018)

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