How a Louisiana couple renovates despite rising costs | Louisiana News
By MAKENZIE BOUCHER, Shreveport Times
SHREVEPORT, Louisiana (AP) – A couple from Shreveport don’t let inflation ruin their dreams of beautifying Shreveport.
Susana and Peter Cerwinski joined the Shreveport community in 2017, having lived in many cities in the United States.
Susana, from Ayacucho, Peru, brings with her a touch of South America, taking her vision of the old and the new and creating something beautiful. Peter, a Virginian, is there for the ride, taking Susana’s visions and turning them into reality.
During the Cerwinskis’ 8-year marriage, they’ve completed more than six home renovations and hope to make the hobby a lifelong career.
With a year of uncertainty due to a global pandemic, this couple are eager to explore the world of remodeling with wood at an all time high since 1997 and a newly acquired home.
“It will be a risk,” said Susana.
The couple bought a home in 2019, in the Springlake neighborhood, and finished just months before COVID-19 hit the ground running. They are confident in this new renovation but expect the prices to increase.
“I think if these prices continue what we did with this house, I think we spent $ 40,000 on renovations here. It will probably be 20-30% more in the other house. We’ll probably end up spending close to 70 or 80, ”said Peter. “We hope the prices will go down.”
The National Association of Home Builders reported that the price of lumber adds nearly $ 36,000 to new home prices.
Lumber is not the only building material to have seen an influx since 2020, but also copper and wire.
“Copper and wiring are right behind, as far as something has gone up. There just aren’t that many dollars of that in a house. Few price fluctuations like these can be absorbed, but lumber is so important in building a home, ”said Dixey Robertson, general manager of the Home Builders Association of Northwest Louisiana.
The price of wood has increased by 250% since last April. In April 2020, contractors and renovators could buy a thousand planks for about $ 350, today that same wood costs nearly $ 1,200.
Robertson gave a three-part list of what is attributable to this surge in lumber prices:
– Sawmills were anticipating a drop in demand for lumber, but there was an increase in demand.
– Mills has experienced a labor shortage much like the rest of the United States due to COVID-19.
– The tariff policy with Canada came into effect after the new administration entered the White House.
This pricing policy was implemented to combat alleged unfair trade practices by Canada.
On May 21, the White House announced a proposal to raise tariffs on Canadian lumber by 9%, which would contribute to the growing problem of housing affordability in the United States.
“I think the top prices will be for the flooring, tiles and whatever kind of wood we have to buy,” Peter said. “I do all the joinery and everything and the prices have gone up. “
Robertson said wood is part of everything from cabinetry to flooring and fencing.
“Six months ago plywood cost between $ 37 and $ 40, now it costs you between $ 80 and $ 100,” said local carpenter and investor Salvador Gonzalez. “It’s a lot of increase.”
Plywood is a friend of any renovator or builder because of its versatility, and that price increase can cost a project in half. Builders across the country are shutting down home production because of the risk of spending more than the market can bear.
Robertson pointed out that if a home increases by $ 36,000 due to inflation in the prices of items such as lumber, the market and comparable homes cannot support that increase.
Suppose a 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 the prices of building materials go up. These houses are the same as it costs more for the builder to build the second house.
This could be a problem for builders and Robertson said many builders here in our area have decided to wait until the economy is stable. The new subdivisions slowed production due to this inflation.
“People usually say go ahead and do it,” Gonzalez said.
The future of construction is in full swing. The Cerwinskis still pursue their passion to take homes that lack love and make them beautiful.
This couple is prepared for any price inflation. They are used to scouring local areas and beyond Shreveport to find the best deals.
“We hope the prices will drop. I think we’ll be able to cut costs a bit because most of the work we do on our own, ”said Peter. “We know we’re going to save in a lot of ways. “
Robertson said prices have mostly stabilized, meaning the highest prices on items such as lumber have peaked. This may mean that some form of stability is returning to the construction community.
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