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Residents repairing homes after tornado run into sky-high prices for lumber, other construction materials


By Tim McNicholas

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    NAPERVILLE, Illinois (WBBM) — There is no good time for a tornado to strike, but the one in the western suburbs on Sunday night ravaged homes at a time when construction costs are already sky high due to the challenges of the pandemic.

As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported Tuesday, those high prices will affect the victims of this storm in Naperville.

Damage like that seen from the tornado requires a whole lot of lumber – there are pieces of wood strewn all around, and they will all need to be replaced. But here’s the thing – lumber prices more than tripled during the pandemic.

Those prices are just starting to drop again. But still, contractors and homeowners alike expect that surge to cost them as they rebuild.

From toppled trees to dented gutters, the EF-3 tornado ripped through the Berkowitz family’s neighborhood in Naperville. One tree crashed down onto their gazebo – a gazebo the family built themselves back in 2018.

“The lumber are obviously a lot higher than expected in years previously,” said Neil Berkowitz. “So I’m really going to have to look at the costs and see if it’s something we can actually do.”

The Berkowitzes are working with their insurance to see if they’ll cover the gazebo. If they do rebuild it, stores will charge more for the materials this time around.

“I would say probably about 30 percent more,” said Michael Loy of O & M Construction in Naperville.

Loy says contractors will have to charge more too.

“It has affected us bigtime,” Loy said. “So to talk about the price of material itself, so just this year alone, we’ve had three shingle increases with prices from the manufacturers.”

Loy says his lumber costs have also skyrocketed. The high prices come from a global supply shortage and a huge boost in home improvement projects when the pandemic forced people to stay at home.

Financial experts say lumber prices are finally starting to drop – but Loy says he’s not seeing it yet.

McNicholas: “Any indication when that might level out?”

Loy: “I wish I knew for sure.”

For now, he said he is doing whatever he can to keep prices down and below his clients’ insurance caps.

As for the Berkowitz family, they’re grateful it was mainly the gazebo – and not the house.

“It could be a lot worse,” Berkowitz said. “I guess I look at it as, as long as everyone was able to make it out of there healthy.”

There is no way to quantify right now how much wood will need to be replaced. But the piles of wood around the neighborhood provide an indication of just how much damage there was.

Thus, after the tornado, those construction companies will certainly have no shortage of work.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Regional

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