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Builder Highlight: Black Women Build – Baltimore

At National Lumber, we have the privilege of getting to work with fantastic builders and contribute to the projects they have underway. Today we want to highlight Black Women Build – Baltimore, a West-Baltimore based wealth-creation and home-building program. We spoke with Shelley Halstead, the founder of BWB, about the initiative.

What is Black Women Build – Baltimore?

Founded in 2017, BWB is a home-ownership and wealth-building initiative that focuses on diminishing the wealth gap for Black women in Baltimore. Home-ownership is a key contributing factor in building financial stability and intergenerational wealth. Black households in Baltimore experience higher rates of unemployment, have lower net worths and generally earn less than half of their white counterparts. BWB seeks to address localized racial wealth inequality among black women in West Baltimore by training participants in carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. They then have the opportunity to purchase the homes they build.

The Journey So Far

To select participants, BWB accepts applications on their website. As mentioned above, BWB doesn’t function just as a skills-training initiative. The core goal is to help participants build homes that they will be purchasing at the end of the building process. This helps endow each participant with knowledge about the inner workings of their home and helps build a stronger attachment to the home and the community they’re working to revitalize.

This community-oriented approach ties into how the homes are built. These aren’t fix-and-flips. Instead, BWB is building in clusters of homes, block by block in West Baltimore. Participants also agree to not sell for at least five years upon purchase of their completed home. This way the impact isn’t just relegated to the personal growth of participants but is making tangible progress towards building a strong sense of community in an often neglected area of the city. So far, BWB has completed a cluster of four houses. They have the capacity to build three houses in clusters every 4 to 5 months. The program is growing, so they’re always seeking eager applicants.

How Did BWB Get Started?

Black Women Build – Baltimore was founded by Shelley Halstead in 2017. Halstead worked as a carpenter for 25 years, including as a member of the Local 131 Carpenters Union in Seattle, Washington from 1996 to 2009. She conducted electrical work in Antarctica for a period. Halstead also received a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law. Eventually, Halstead moved to DC to do policy work before relocating to Baltimore and passing the Maryland Bar. Instead of working in law, Halstead founded BWB as an initiative to help address issues of racial wealth inequality and prevalent blight. She identified how those in the community lag in net worth and intergenerational wealth, and BWB is a tool to help process these challenges for local residents.

The Future of Black Women Build – Baltimore

The hyphenated title of the initiative is no mistake: Halstead sees the potential for what BWB is doing to be replicated across the country. Her hope is that the program can be expanded to other regions over time, addressing the needs of the local communities. Within Baltimore, she looks forward to eventually expanding to other neighborhoods where the service would be beneficial and continuing to grow the team of women who can train and mentor participants.

Work With National Lumber

The team at National Lumber is proud to supply the crucial work BWB is doing in our city. As a woman in the male-dominated construction industry, Halstead said she appreciates that she’s been treated with respect by the National Lumber team and highlighted John from our sales team for his great work ensuring BWB always gets the building materials they need.

It’s been a pleasure to supply projects for Black Women Build – Baltimore, and we look forward to seeing how this initiative will continue to grow and address inequality within Baltimore.

If you’d like to contribute to the great work they do, click here.

And if you’re ready to get started on your next big project, don’t hesitate to contact the expert team at National Lumber for all of your building supply needs.

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New Products at National Lumber in 2021

In 2021, there’s a lot of things that the team here at National Lumber is looking forward to. As one of the Baltimore and DC area’s most trusted building material suppliers, we’re always striving to stock new products that meet the increased demands of our customers. Today, we want to highlight some new products at National Lumber in 2021.

AdvanTech Subflooring

We’re excited to stock AdvanTech subflooring products. Created by Huber Engineered Woods, AdvanTech is a favorite of builders across the country. The AdvanTech subfloor assembly is designed to withstand moisture exposure. The panels are built with strength and stiffness in mind. The high wood density of the product works to ensure fasteners stay in place and reduce nail popping as well as floor squeaking. Along with the ZIP System products we carry from Huber, AdvanTech flooring is a great, streamlined building material with a wide appeal to builders of all scopes.

Fiberon Good Life Decking

2020 saw a huge increase in demand for the decking products we stock. As such, one of the essential new products at National Lumber in 2021 is the Fiberon Good Life Decking line. We’ll be carrying four unique colors of high-quality composite decking: Cottage, Cabin, Beach House, and Cabana. This decking line features authentic grain patterns to emulate the classic wood look homeowners love while saving the trouble of maintenance that comes with traditional wood decking. Fiberon’s Good Life Decking is durable against the elements, and with a distinct lineup of colors, there’s something for every homeowner.

Medallion Cabinetry

In mid-2020, we began stocking Medallion Cabinetry products, and we look forward to highlighting this fantastic cabinetry brand as we move through the new year. Medallion Cabinetry brings a level of unparalleled customizability for homeowners, including unique glaze, stain, and paint finishes. Customers can choose from the Silverline, Gold, and Platinum Collections, each offering distinct options at different price points to help accommodate a wide range of budgets.

There’s Plenty to Look Forward to at National Lumber in 2021

In 2021, we look forward to providing more diverse product options for all of our customers to help you build the way you want to. Let us know if there are any additional brands you’d like us to stock. If you’re ready to get the materials needed to get started, request a quote from our expert team today.

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New Year Lumber Forecast for 2021

Lumber had a record year on the market in 2020, but industry experts predicted that this trend may finally begin to slow as winter ramped up. However, in December, lumber prices shattered all-time highs for the month, and January looks to be continuing the trend. Following an altogether unpredictable year, demand has greatly exceeded the typical winter lull, leading to delays, higher prices, and a temporary shortage of some materials. Let’s take a look at the new year lumber forecast for 2021.

Record-Breaking Numbers

Courtesy of Bloomberg News

The lumber futures market reached a record $845 per thousand board on December 14th. This eclipsed the previous high seen in August when the boom was thought to have peaked. These market trends seem to be moving in conjunction with builder confidence, which hit its highest level since monthly surveys began in 1985. As the building industry booms, so goes the lumber industry. Additionally, as noted by Forbes, the six-month forward price for lumber futures “is around $670, or only about 24 percent below today’s spot lumber price.”

How the Trend Has Been Sustained

2020 was a unique year. There were a variety of factors that have contributed to the unprecedented highs the lumber industry has experienced. But as highlighted earlier, the seasonal industry tends to slow down as the colder months come. That was not the case in 2020 for several different reasons. Weather was largely warmer and drier, making building conditions more favorable. Additionally, in the Western US and Canada, lumber production was devasted in 2020 by rampant wildfires that saw the loss of enough lumber to build over a million homes. This scarcity is helping drive lumber prices across the country.

The housing market is still booming as well, with record-low mortgage prices fueling a building binge as suppliers try to keep up with the demand for housing. Multi-unit building demand has gone down, however that has been matched by increased demand for lumber-intensive single-family homes. Home remodeling has also ticked up, as many homeowners were placed under stay-at-home orders and began investing in their living spaces. However, while the building craze continues, delays in the supply chain have caused prices to reach all-time highs.

Industry Challenges

2020’s initial lumber boom that came in April was partially driven by supply delays due to the COVID pandemic when some mills were forced to close and production slowed. This is still a prevalent factor. The huge demand has been difficult for producers to meet, a trend that was exacerbated over the end of December as many mills across North America closed for the holidays. This has the potential to delay the delivery of materials up to three months into this new year.

Product delays are prevalent for a variety of different building materials. Our team notes, for instance, that some cabinet lead times are expected to be extended by 8 weeks currently, while vinyl windows are landing as far as twelve weeks out. Pandemic-related production and delivery delays are matched with unprecedented demand from builders, creating a perfect storm.

New Year Lumber Forecast Wrap Up

2020 was an unpredictable year for the lumber industry. Even when expected to slow down, the industry has defied the odds. From all the available data, it looks like this lumber binge is only going to continue through 2021. However, some experts do expect to see a tapering off as mid-February arrives, but with the unpredictability of the previous year, only time will tell.

What Can National Lumber Do to Help?

If you have a project upcoming, reach out to the expert team at National Lumber today. The staff will prepare a takeoff and estimate for your project. With extended lead times for several products, it’s important for builders to contact suppliers far in advance for needed materials to help minimize material delays once your project has begun. Send us your plans so you can ensure that you are using real-time costs to estimate your projects and minimize any loss in profit. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Unprecedented Lumber Market Demand Continues into Autumn

2020 has created unique circumstances for various commodity industries. The lumber market has experienced an unprecedented boom that looks, for now at least, to be continuing into autumn. In our last blog on this topic, we discussed the reasons for this unprecedented lumber demand, including low mortgage rates, service-industry businesses adjusting to outdoor seating requirements, and homeowners turning their attention to remodeling and decking projects, among others. Today, we’ll take a look at some hard numbers that highlight how unique the situation in the lumber market currently is.

Lumber Trends as They Currently Stand

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to emerge as a global challenge, the lumber industry expected a huge downturn in demand as lockdown restrictions came into place and businesses waited to learn whether local governments would consider their operations essential. This uncertainty was reflected in the price of lumber, hitting an annual low of $264 per board foot on March 30th of this year. However, as demand exploded rapidly, the price followed suit. It peaked at $948 on September 7th, an increase of 153.48% over the previous year. This staggering trend has been unprecedented within the industry. Since its peak, prices have trended downward. However, even with this downward trend, prices for lumber are still far outpacing the averages for years past. Most recently, the price was $607.60 on September 21st, an increase of 62% over the previous year. Using the chart below courtesy of Davis Hawn, we can see how these trends break down for individual lumber products.

How Long Will the Trend Continue?

Some experts predict that prices will continue to fall as autumn approaches, a typical trend for what is often a seasonal market. However, the degree to which remains to be seen. Even if the prices continue to fall, they will still likely eclipse the monthly averages from last year. The direction of this trend may largely be dependant on whether building companies continue their demand for lumber products or if they too slow down as the weather changes and the uncharted effects of the global pandemic begin to balance out. In the meantime, lumber market prices are still far outpacing predicted prices, and while the trend is slowing, we will still have to wait and see to what degree.

Get the Lumber Products You Need for Your Next Project

Despite the unprecedented times, the team at National Lumber has made it our goal to deliver the lumber products and other building materials you need to you on-time. If you’re ready to get started on your next project, request a quote today.