Homebuilders struggle with rising building material prices, thieves in already-rough housing market


A typo in the original version has been corrected.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Homebuilders said they are struggling amid rising building material prices and thieves taking materials from construction sites in an already-rough housing market.

Millie Eubanks, a sales and marketing manager with R&R Homes, said thieves have been on the hunt at some construction sites as lumber and other products have become hot commodities.

Someone walked onto one of R&R Homes sites and stole $6,500 of Oriented Strand Board that’s used for roofs and wrap for homes.

In another instance, someone busted into a home and stole a dishwasher, and didn’t turn off the water line when they did. The home flooded and caused between $40,000 and $50,000 in damages.

“It’s a real struggle for a contractor or a home builder or for anybody in this industry right now,” Eubanks said.

“It’s a perfect storm if you will,” said Mike Means, the Executive Officer for the Oklahoma Home Builders Association.

They say there’s no place like home.

However, for home builders in the post pandemic housing market, it’s been the opposite.

“It’s an interesting ride for sure,” Eubanks said.

According to Eubanks, there’s been an increase in home hunting with lower interest rates.

However, she said it’s hard to stay on track with people stealing your building products or the materials already placed inside.

“How do you secure every home that you have 24 hours per day,” she said.

This also brings more issues. When this happens the home buyer is forced to wait 30 to 45 more days for the home to be finished. At times, they have nowhere to go.

“They’ve got lives,” Eubanks said. “So, how do you predict or even schedule a closing and what month that might be.”

“We hate to see it, but some people take the easy way out and take products,” Means said.

Mike Means with the Oklahoma Home Builders Association echoed the same sentiment as Eubanks. He said in 2021 it costs $36,000 more to build a home than it did at this time last year.

“We’ve just seen a tremendous increases in prices,” he said.

The price of lumber has risen 182 percent. A bundle in 2020 costed about $23,000. In 2021 it’s costing builders close to $50,000. Even products that haven’t seen price increases like windows and appliances, they’re seeing supply chain issues.

“It’s taking anywhere from what used to take maybe 3 weeks to 4 weeks is now taking 8 weeks to 12 weeks or even 16 weeks,” Means said.

Both continuing to say  that the prices, plus the thieves make it much harder in an already unhinged housing market.

“It snowballs, and you’re just creating all kinds of issues,” Means said. “All kinds of problems and it costs everybody money.”

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“It makes it a challenge,” Eubanks said.

Means added that people probably steal the products to either build their own place with since it’s too expensive, or just because it’s valuable. According to Means, if you see someone driving a flatbed truck full of lumber at midnight, it’s probably not for an early morning delivery. They probably “borrowed” it from someone else.

The question begs, will these issues ever end? Means said, at least for the builder side of things, it will likely resolve itself in about a year and a half.

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