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Skyrocketing costs for materials, labor pushing away buyers in the homebuilding industry

Costs in the homebuilding industry are on the rise, pricing out thousands of potential buyers and putting new projects on pause.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — The hot housing market continues to put buyers in a tough spot and according to the National Association of Home Builders. Even those in the construction industry are growing frustrated.

The median sale price for a home in King County sits near $890,000 according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Statewide it’s closer to $590,000, an amount that’s unaffordable for many Washington families, and it’s taking a toll on the construction industry.

Nationwide, homebuilder confidence dropped slightly in January. 

The cost of doing business is majorly impacting homebuilders in recent years. The price tag for materials is higher, and sometimes, supply is limited. Costs for wood, gypsum, steel and labor have jumped dramatically.

Builders must pass the cost increase on to buyers and those increases have forced some out of the market.

Joseph Irons is a local home builder and renovator. He said the impacts on the industry are being felt far and wide. 

“The cost of materials and supply chain issues are affecting everyone in our industry whether it’s a delay in the project or materials that sometimes we couldn’t even get,” Irons said.

A project Irons started work on in 2019 originally had a $30,000 quote for materials. In 2020, that quote jumped to $100,000 for lumber.

The price of imported lumber sits at record levels. The Building Industry Association of Washington says the average cost of a newly built home is $522,000. 

For every thousand dollar increase in the cost of a house, 2,500 buyers are priced out, according to the association.

Homebuilders are hoping some proposed laws in Olympia can help. 

“We’re asking the legislators to consider the costs of regulations and impacts and supply chain issues when they’re adding new regulations to building,” Irons explained.

There are four pieces of legislation the Building Industry is supporting: 

  • HB 1162 - Adds a new graduation pathway that will allow more students to explore careers in the trades like residential construction.
  • SB 5964 - Consolidates and streamlines the local permit review process.
  • HB 2066 - Eliminates duplicate regulatory requirements for development to comply with the state's environmental policy act when the project already complies with the Growth Management Act.
  • HB 2049 - Streamlines the building permit process by requiring local governments to accept a permit with plans prepared, stamped and signed by a professional engineer or architect to be considered complete.


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