In terms of the big picture, cold-formed steel (CFS) boasts many advantages over wood framing. Projects built with CFS save money on labor, insurance, and maintenance. There are many reasons to choose CFS over lumber, but this year, another major factor has come into play.
Prior to COVID-19, the difference in the cost of wood versus steel materials was minimal, but due to state and local governments enacting safety measures, such as shelter-in-place and social distancing orders, the price of wood has changed dramatically. When safety measures were first put into place, lumber companies predicted a lower demand for wood, and subsequently reduced their inventories. Some sawmills even closed in response.
But construction did not slow down as predicted. In fact, low mortgage rates led to a boom in housing construction. Stay-at-home mandates led to an increase in home renovation projects. Social distancing measures meant that restaurants were in need of more outdoor seating.
This increased demand on top of a shortage of lumber has led to ballooning prices, which to this day, have not stopped. While in spring of 2020, lumber hit a low in immediate response to the pandemic, since April, the price of lumber has soared, rising 130%, according to the National Home Building Association (NAHB).
Now, with lumber prices surging, CFS has become an even more cost-effective design solution. In addition to the already numerous ways in which CFS is more budget friendly for the whole of the project, the cost of the base materials now plays a significant role.
Before lumber’s skyrocketing prices, wood and steel were considered competitively priced. However, a study done on a 5-story apartment building by the Steel Framing Industry Association (SFIA) shows that with current prices, steel framing would be 24% less expensive than the lumber used on the project. Overall, this particular project would have cost 5% less using steel.
Contractors must also consider the volatility of lumber prices. The continuing surge means that budgets and prices offered to clients may quickly become inaccurate as prices continue to increase. A budget price given months prior to construction, can quickly become inaccurate in such a volatile market. As the economy continues to adjust to the challenges of this pandemic-era it is unsure what the future holds for construction costs.
In addition to the many other ways CFS is more cost effective than wood, surging prices are unpredictable. All Steel’s use of CFS means that we are involved in every step of the process, from design to construction allowing us to offer predictable and reliable pricing. Act today! There is a 4-5 month lead time depending on the size of the project.