timber shortage
  • May 27, 2021
  • Elie Farah
  • 0

Australia is currently on a timber shortage as everyone is renovating their homes due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Most Aussie families delay their holiday plans and decide to use their extra cash on home rebuilds.

Unfortunately, the surge in demand causes a timber shortage, and what made the situation even worse is the devastating bushfires that also occurred a year ago.

Not only that, but the devastating bushfires also worsened the situation.

Increasing Timber Prices Prompted Calls for the Federal Government

The shortage causes the timber prices to increase, which prompted calls for the Federal Government to review its HomeBuilder program. Mr. Screpsis said that he is saying more no’s than yes because of supply. It’s pointless for them to say yes he can do it but can’t supply his clients for another three or four months.

The Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme is contributing to the shortage. It provides grants up to $25,000 to build a new home provided construction begins within six months.

There are now growing concerns recipients will be unable to access building materials in time to meet the requirements of the grant.

On the other hand, the grant could be soaked up in the excess cost of getting timber.

Inability to Access Building Materials in Due

According to Labor MP Jason Clare, there’s a real risk that several people will miss out on the grant because they can’t start construction in the next six months. Some of the common concerns of recipients include not being able to access building materials timely to meet the grant requirements. 

The black summer bushfires affected Australia’s hardwood and softwood supplies. These force many builders to source timber from overseas.

Prices in the United States have risen close to 200%. This is now having a major flow-on effect for Aussies trying to import timber from overseas.

Eight months ago, the container brought from overseas would cost about $300 US, but now it’s $900 US upwards.

Applications for the HomeBuilder program have closed and at this stage, changes will not be made. However, the industry predicts timber processing mills will be under pressure to meet the demand first least the next six months.

TimberLink Increased the Level of Production

Timberlink Australia, one of Australia’s largest structural timber manufacturers, has mills in South Australia’s South East and Tasmania. It is among the radiata pine processors that have increased the level of production. 

Ian Tyson, the Timberlink chief executive, said timber supplies across the nation were tight. They are doing all that they can to produce as much timber as possible. This includes extra shifts at the mill.

Mr. Tyson further said that the building materials have increased since COVID-19, with increased levels of housing starts and renovation activity. They are expecting the tightness in supply to ease slightly over the coming months as inventory improves and import levels adjust.

Timberlink is producing more timber than at any other time. Their $100 million investment in their Australian mill upgrade program will shortly increase their production capacity.

OneFortyOne Admits the Short Supply

The largest integrated forestry company in South Australia and a large producer of structural timber, OneFortyOne, said a reduction in imports had also impacted the supply. 

Cameron MacDonald, the executive general manager, said imports had previously made up 25% of demand for timber in Australia. They are seeing a worldwide phenomenon where government stimulus has seen several home building activities, as well as DIY projects, and the timber prices in the US have doubled.

So, a lot of those imports are going to America rather than coming to Australia. This has been a significant drop in imports. He said he hoped common sense would prevail with the HomeBuilder scheme.

Many ask the federal government to extend the deadline so that they can push some of this demand out because it’s not just timber, it’s tradies, and bathroom fittings. Everything’s in short supply at the moment.

His concern is that two years out, they’re going to see a significant drop in demand for new homes. But if they relax those timelines on HomeBuilder, he thinks he’ll see a more orderly reduction in demand. 

Victor Violante, the deputy chief executive of the Australian Forest Products Association, said home builders potentially faced months of delay in accessing structural timber.

Mr. Violante said several processing mills are working at capacity and will continue to do so until things settle down. This is a good problem to have, but it highlights the need for Australia to be self-sufficient.

New Drying Kilns

The increasing demand has led OneFortyOne to open the first two continuous-drying kilns in Mount Gambier. This will drive efficiency on the site. The $16 million project is capable to dry 240,000 cubic metres of timber per year and a second kiln. It is expected to be constructed by December. This will double the capacity.

The general manager of wood products operations of Jubilee Highway Sawmill, Paul Hartung said the kilns were state of the start. These will reduce the energy consumption by almost 25% and ‘debottle-necking’ one of the middle parts of our site.

How Effective Building & Consultancy Can Guide You During the Timber Shortage Crisis?

It’s important nowadays to have a building consultant who can give you advice on alternative materials and reduce hiking costs which we can see some building materials have doubled in price in the last 6 months.

For more information about Sydney building inspection, visit our Help Centre.

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