Materials: more lows than highs

After flirting with unprecedented heights, the cost of building materials seems to have begun a timid descent.

Doubtful is the slowdown in construction, home renovation and real estate in general in Quebec.

“Credit conditions have tightened, leaving many people unable to buy,” said Jean-Philippe Cliche, senior economist at the Association de la Construction du Québec (ACQ).

“If we have fewer sales we have fewer renovations, if we have fewer renovations we have less pressure on building materials and prices that will go down, including wood,” he explains.

Quebec saw more than 4,562 housing starts last July. That’s an 8% decrease from July 2021.

“We have a seventh drop in housing starts in the last eight months,” said Paul Cardinal, director of the economics division of the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec.

More declines to be seen

As a result, between April and August, prices for certain building materials, which had risen sharply in recent months, fell drastically, according to ACQ.

The price of lumber fell 52%, tin 39%, nickel 33%, rebar 24%, aluminum 22% and copper 18%.

And Quebec is no exception. In the US, we expect some contraction in housing construction, observes ACQ’s Jean-Philippe Cliche.

“If we see an overall decline in North America, we think building materials prices should follow,” he says.

General Contractor Raphaël Lavallée from RMC Construction

Another encouraging sign for Holz: Hurricane season is quiet this year. “We didn’t have strong winds in August. There seem to be few threats,” he adds.

On the construction sites we have the feeling that the worst could be over.

Construction CRMC’s general contractor, Raphaël Lavallée, who specializes in carpentry, even believes that his clients who have put their projects on hold will show some sign of life.

“I think it will encourage some to finish their project,” said the man, who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years.

Not all materials

“We’ve certainly noticed a small drop, not a big one,” says Mr Lavallée of material prices when questioned at a bungalow site.

Even with the frantic race for materials behind us, some products still fly away at the price of gold.

“There’s a big drop in sales of new build, so less volume for lumber,” observes Mathieu Clément, a builder from Pincourt, a suburb of Montreal.

“However, we have not seen any decline in renovation demand, so plywood and gypsum materials are also in demand. It certainly affects prices in that way,” he points out.

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