To relieve the shortage, Rayburn called on the Administration to eliminate the high anti-dumping duties on imports of Mexican cement.
Shortages first appeared this spring in Florida, which imports about 40% of its cement, compared with just 20% on average across the nation. Supplies have subsequently tightened in many other markets, partly because strong demand in China has diverted the amount of cement available from other countries and limited the number of cargo ships that can bring the product to U.S. ports.
Prohibitive duties have severely limited supplies from Mexico, which is the most logical source of supplementary imports. A delivery from that country takes only four days, compared to an average of 44 days for a cement shipment from Asia.
“With global shipping capacity strained, the ability to import cement from Asia and Europe to meet this shortfall has been significantly reduced,” said Rayburn. “Therefore, it makes sense to rescind the costly anti-dumping duties on Mexican cement that are preventing a stable and reliable supply of imports to U.S. consumers.”
To read more about the cement shortage elsewhere in this issue of NBN Online, click here.
On another basic building material where the situation appears to be worsening, 26% of those surveyed reported shortages of gypsum wall board, up from 11% last October, 16% in March and 19% in May.
Nearly one-third of respondents are experiencing shortages of oriented strand board and plywood, wood panel products used for wall sheathing, floors and roofs. While significant, this was down from a peak of 52% in last October’s survey. Panel prices remain high and have been climbing following a brief downturn earlier this summer.
Another sore spot for growing numbers of builders is a short supply of insulation material, which was reported by 20% of those polled, up from 10% just four months earlier.
In many regions where brick is widely used, builders have reported shortages of that material as well.
While framing lumber supplies appear adequate, its price volatility continues to raise concerns. The price of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber hit a five-year high of $472 on Aug. 6, up 52% from $311 a year earlier, according to Random Lengths, a trade publication based in Eugene, OR.
Shortages of building materials have also led to rising costs. During the past six months, 90% of respondents reported paying higher prices for framing lumber and oriented strand board, 88% for plywood, 86% for cement, 80% for steel, 75% for gypsum wall board and 68% for insulation.
“A steady supply of building materials available at reasonable prices is important to maintaining a vibrant housing market and to meeting the growing demand for affordable housing,” said Rayburn.
To help its members limit the damage of unpredictable price hikes for building materials, NAHB is providing price escalation language that can be included in home sales contracts. For more information about NAHB’s escalation clause and to download it, click here. Or e-mail David Crump or call him at 800-368-5242 x8491.
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