Wood prices out of control: Zimmerer: “There has never been a situation like this”

Timber prices out of control
Zimmerer: “There has never been a situation like this”

The high demand from China is driving up wood prices. The raw material is in short supply on many construction sites. Tradespeople have to suspend orders due to the increase in costs and material shortages, reports master roofer Zimmer ntv.

Carpenter and master roofer Helmut Zimmer has been self-employed for 35 years. But what he is currently experiencing on the timber market is a first. “There has never been a situation like this before,” says the 56-year-old. “Nobody would have thought that the development would one day take on such blatant proportions,” says Zimmer ntv. Since April the prices for wood products have doubled or tripled, and for roof battens they have even quintupled. The result: Many orders are suspended for the time being due to the enormous increase in costs or a lack of materials. He postponed the expansion of complete roof trusses “until the situation has calmed down again”. Instead of the previous 30 cents, a meter of roof batten now costs 1.50 euros.

He will also not build two planned wooden houses for the time being. Instead of the originally calculated 120,000 euros for the shell construction, the costs are currently 220,000 euros. “Not everyone can do that,” said the master roofer. After all, he finds his customers very understanding of the current situation: “Many people know about the shortage of materials and that we really can’t do anything about it.” He is grateful that this is properly communicated to the outside world and that the craft is not suffering any damage. “We’d love to do our job,” he says. “But business is only made if everyone benefits – including customers who want inexpensive work.”

The price increase can also be confirmed by Gerd Ebner, editor-in-chief of the specialist magazine “Holzkurier”. He calculates RTL / ntv what the shortage of wood means for house construction: “A roof structure normally costs 25,000 euros, now it’s 17,000 euros more”. But insulation materials and plasterboard have also increased significantly in price, which drives the price of a house even higher.

According to the Saarland Forest Owners Association, the reasons for the current situation are enormous demand from Asia and the USA, the low interest rates, the construction boom and the initiative of do-it-yourselfers in the corona pandemic. “This is a chain of many causes,” says managing director Wolfgang Pester. In addition, in the past few years, forest owners had absolutely no choice but to export wood, “because the sawmills have pushed prices down so much”. Since 2018, forest owners have suffered from low sales prices. According to Pester, they have fallen by 75 percent and have only been on the move again for four weeks. From once 90 euros per cubic meter they have fallen to 25 euros, currently they are 60 to 70 euros in Saarland.

For this year, forest owners and forest companies hope for further increasing prices for round wood, i.e. the raw wood from the forest, and thus for higher profits. “We are currently negotiating deliveries for the next few months with the sawmills and fighting for a new price level,” said sales manager Klaus Dunkel from Landesforsten Rheinland-Pfalz. “The forest owner wants to get a fair share of the developments in the sawn timber market.” So far, the bark beetle crisis has led to losses among forest owners, while sawmills have achieved profit records.

According to Ebner vom Holzkurier, however, the situation on the timber market will soon calm down: “In the USA, prices have fallen, a price decline of 40 percent is expected for July. There will then also be an adjustment in Germany.” This is good news for craft businesses in Germany. Then you can finally continue all orders – and accept new orders.