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Smart Ways To Beat Lumber Prices

Written by: Keith Thornton

As you probably already know, there is a massive shortage of lumber that has been pushing lumber prices and construction prices through the roof. Reports are showing that the average new home building prices have gone up between 15% and 20% in the past year. One of the supply chains we work with has reported that the cost of a single 2x4 stud has tripled in price over the last year.

The frustrating part for potential buyers is that the market still isn’t slowing down. This means that there is a serious shortage of properties listed on the real estate market. The supply can’t keep up with the demand in many cities. Below we are going to break down a few smart ways you can make up for the lumber prices. 

Buy Pre-Designed House Plans vs an Architect

While this might sound like a shameless plug (hint: it kind of is), the first and most obvious way is to start at the beginning. Architects typically charge a percentage of the final construction cost. So when lumber prices drive up the cost of new construction, your cost for plans goes up with it. Let’s use an example of the following plan from our site.

The Hay Springs plan is a  2637 sq. ft. Modern Farmhouse plan. Our cost estimator (which is updated with current lumber prices) reports that for the Omaha area, our price range is $459,050 - $505,400. At a 5% cost for an architect to draw something similar, that’s around $25,000. The cost of that plan, which is ready to build, from our site is $1300. That huge savings will help offset the cost of lumber greatly. 

Hay Springs Modern Farmhouse Plan

Even if you were in the market for a completely custom home, we can modify and make changes to your home plans and still offer huge savings over an architect. We are confident that anyone can find the perfect plan in our collections.


Build a Simpler Style House

Simple home designs don’t have to mean ugly or boring homes. The more complex your home is, the more expensive. Look at things like multiple roof pitches. A home that has a single pitch to the roof can use prebuilt trusses that will save you money. 

Many of our Barndominium plans accomplish this while keeping an excellent curb appeal. Our nationwide market data shows that this style of home is gaining popularity fast.

Billings Barndominium


Another item to consider is foundation shape. If you are building a foundation with a lot of jogs and corners, your construction cost will increase. That’s not to say you need to build a boring house with 4 corners, but the fewer the better. 


Build Efficiently

When deciding on a floor plan, choosing the right plan type is difficult. A single story house is a popular choice, but not the most efficient choice at times. A 2 story or 1.5 story house reduces the foundation size and roof size which are big factors when taking into consideration the higher prices of material. 

Choosing a house that allows you to add rooms into the roof trusses make the plan very efficient to build. Since you are going to already have the roof, you are gaining rooms without having to expand the footprint of the plan. 


Blair Second Floor

Blair Second Floor


Do Some of the Work Yourself

This may sound like a daunting idea, but you can save a lot of money doing some of the home construction tasks yourself. Items like painting, landscaping, and door hardware are things that most people can do and it could save you thousands of dollars. Plus, putting in some sweat equity can be very fulfilling when building your dream home.  

Painting Interior House


Finish Parts of Your House Later

Even though lumber futures are trending up like never before, they will eventually go back to normal. If you don’t want to make any sacrifices to your home but still want to save money, you can save parts to finish later. 

Choose a house that has an external garage, or a house with a bonus room, or an unfinished basement. This will allow you to build and move into your main living area while setting you up to finish the other parts when the prices return to normal. 

In Conclusion

Even though lumber prices are at an all time high, it’s still a great time to build. If you are a builder there is a serious need for homes on the market. If you are a homeowner, you’ll have better luck building a house than finding a house that is reasonably priced. 

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