Despite a recession that has crippled the housing industry, lumber prices have jumped more than 30 percent in the past six weeks, home builders and industry members have said.
The National Association of Home Builders, a trade group based in Washington that represents builders' interests, laid the blame on proposed logging restrictions on millions of acres of forest land in the Pacific northwest and California to protect the habitat of the northern spotted owl.
That has sent timber buyers scrambling to buy supplies to protect themselves from possible shortages, said Mark Ellis Tipton, a Raleigh, N.C., home builder and president of the national builders association.
The surge in lumber prices is particularly disruptive because housing markets just now are beginning to recover from the recession, Tipton said.
Tipton said the timber cost increases will boost the price of a $150,000 house by more than $3,000.
Alan Cordill, manager of Panning Lumber Co. in Kissimmee, Fla., said prices have surged incredibly over a short time span.
"It has been one of the most volatile periods I can remember," he said.