U.S. Home Construction Costs Are Higher Than Ever

With demand soaring and materials in short supply, the cost of building a home has risen sharply in the last year.

June 14, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Single-Family Housing Construction

Irina Mos / Shutterstock

With prices for construction materials soaring during the pandemic, write Marcy Nicholson, Dave Merrill, and Cedric Sam for Bloomberg, building a home is more expensive than ever. "There are any number of factors at play—from rock-bottom mortgage rates to city dwellers’ rush to the suburbs to shortages of materials—but the simplest explanation is that there is just too much demand for builders and their suppliers to handle. All of this makes housing an extreme manifestation of the inflationary pressures percolating through the booming U.S. economy."

Costs for some materials, like concrete, were already rising sharply before the pandemic hit. Lumber, "the biggest pain point by far," has jumped in price by as much as 400%. "It’s not just the two-by-fours that go into the framing. Builders are paying up and waiting longer for oriented strand board (OSB), a lower-cost stand-in for plywood. The price of these panels soared to a rare premium over plywood in October, and they’ve since been in short supply." As builders struggle to make up the increases, "buyers are on the hook for the higher costs," and "[w]ith raw materials prices continuing to surge around the world, the pressure on builders to increase costs is likely to grow stronger." 

"This could be industry killing," worries Steve Martinez, the owner of a construction business in Boise, Idaho. The final cost of one of his home models, the Baybrook, has risen 61% from 2019.

Thursday, June 3, 2021 in Bloomberg

Street-level view of sharrow symbol on asphalt with parked car in background

How Sharrows Became Cycling’s Most Hated Symbol

Originally designed as a low-cost way to encourage safer road sharing between bikes and cars, the sharrow has become a symbol of the lack of commitment to protected bike infrastructure in many cities.

August 2, 2022 - Denverite

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Dallas Freeways

A How-To for ‘Freeway Fighters’

Ten recommendations for effective freeway removal advocacy.

50 minutes ago - Strong Towns

Rendering of elevated rail ine

Miami Rapid Transit Project Moves Forward

The county completed the draft environmental impact study for a monorail and people mover planned as part of its rapid transit system.

1 hour ago - The Next Miami

Cars lined up on a street with fire burning in background

Fire Evacuation Planning at the Community Level

Wildfire planning often focuses on individual buildings, but little guidance exists for effective citywide evacuation planning.

August 10 - The Atlantic

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.