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Combating the Timber Industry Crunch with Hemp

Written by Claire Owen

Here’s something we know to be true: when you build a house, you need wood. Wood has been used as the base material for framing houses since the neolithic period, and while there are some substitutes available, supply and pricing have ensured us that timber-framed homes will still be around for many more years.

The timber mill and lumber industry has remained constant since the 1900’s. When there was a demand for houses, trees were cut down, put through lumber mills and houses were built. Aside from a few technological upgrades, the process and demand has had little variation. Up until 2019 that is. Timber mills in the USA and Canada began taking strain, and timber mills began shutting down due to minimal growth in the industry, and a saturated market. On top of this, the industry was then met with a labor crisis. At this point, the rest of the world probably hadn’t taken any notice, as the low demand was still being met and prices remained stable.

Cue the pandemic. Forced to sit in their homes for days and weeks at a time, people began to revert to their ancestral ways, and expend their free time by building and fixing things with their own hands. Coupling this with access to Pinterest and YouTube, and there’s no question as to why the Home DIY mania has boomed. And of course, home DIY projects start with timber.

Demand for timber quickly increased between 2020 and 2021, but because this trend came about right after the 2019 dip, the industry couldn’t manage to cater to every request. This was in no part due to lack of raw materials, but purely due to labour and manufacturing ability. So when 2021 came rolling around, and people in North America were faced with less movement restrictions, the lack of supply of timber and lumber pushed the prices up to unheard of amounts, which has come as a surprised to the entire industry.

Lumber Price (USD/1000 board feet)

The price of lumber, a product of timber, in USD over the past 5 years has skyrocketed from barely managing to reach $600 between 2017 and 2020 to peaking at an all time high of $1,515 in May of 2021. Building during this peak could add about $36,000 to the price of a typical newly built home.

These prices may have warded off the local home builder from using timber and may have opted for a less natural housing frame, but that doesn't have to be the case. While steel, concrete and stone are viable framing options, using timber in your frame is a natural substitute with abundant resources, overall building a carbon conscious home.

When building with HempLime, the cured HempLime provides a good strength in tension, which provides racking strength to a timber frame, meaning that the use of timber can be minimised in a well-designed frame and therefore, the amount of timber needed in your frame is reduced, ultimately reducing your building costs. Moreover, HempLime pairs very well with timber. Due to hemp's insulation capabilities, the timber is protected from moisture and termites and other insect infestations, disputing any concern about the structural integrity of using timber.

Timber prices will be on it’s way into decline as production in timber mills starts up again, and that paired with a smart and conscious building plan, could help reduce your expenditure now, as well as future maintenance costs.

Let’s see how our eco-design and conscious building practices will benefit you in the long run.

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