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Why is lumber so expensive, and should we be securing it?

Calipsa 01 July 2021
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The last year has been a roller coaster ride for the world’s economy. We’ve seen it all: face mask shortages and surpluses, shuttered restaurants, company-wide layoffs and rehirings, and seemingly endless logistical nightmares. One trend has made headlines again lately: lumber prices. 


Why have lumber prices risen so much?

With so many buildings lying empty and people stuck at home, many businesses and homeowners decided to renovate over the last year. The heightened demand for lumber came around the same time as sawmills were halting work for a myriad of pandemic-related reasons: pausing to create better protocols, searching for PPE for employees, or labor shortages. The lumber supply dwindled just as a fresh demand cropped up, resulting in astronomical prices.

In the midst of last summer, lumber prices jumped to almost $1000 per thousand board feet. Then they skyrocketed again in 2021, hitting $1600 per thousand board feet in May. As a reference, over the last ten years the price has only fluctuated by around $400 per thousand board feet.

When will lumber prices return to normal?

During the month of June, market saw an unprecedented 45% dip in prices.  The steady decrease over the last few weeks is potentially due to heightened productivity from saw mills and more people getting out of the house. Lumber prices are currently in between $700 and $800 per thousand board feet. Despite falling over the past few weeks, the price is still high relative to the norm and economists project that the price will remain inflated through the end of 2023. 

A spike in lumber theft

Unsurprisingly, the boom in prices has caused an increase in lumber theft. Construction sites have been prime targets for criminals, anywhere from from Washington to Hawaii.  Sites can be difficult to secure and oftentimes, materials may be left out overnight or the weekend, leaving it at risk for theft.

Using video surveillance to guard lumber

The most efficient way to guard your construction sites and materials is with video surveillance. You can optimize your monitoring with intelligent video analytics to make sure that you’re able to catch suspicious activity or thieves the moment they step on the premises. 

For example, Calipsa’s human and vehicle detection features can alert site managers when, for example, an unfamiliar car approaches or people are on site after hours. 

By adding Calipsa’s false alarm filtering platform to a video monitoring system, false alarms triggered by security cameras can be reduced by over 90%. With fewer alarms coming in, security personnel can focus their attention on taking proactive measures to address real alarms.

With high lumber prices and an uncertain market, it’s best to keep your construction sites safe with intelligent video surveillance. 


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