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Posted by Mary in PA on 9/10/2010

What’s that expression; “Timing is everything.” Well, I’m not sure I would go that far, but I would say that timing is at least something.


Late in 2009 when we were planning for the shop, John showed me an ad from the local big-box store as we were both on the lookout for materials and costs. OSB was on sale for less than $7 a sheet. We discussed getting some, knowing we would need a lot of it for the shop. But frankly we just weren’t that enthused about moving so much OSB around (from storage to site) and we had no place to store it anyway. After all, OSB is just OSB. It wasn’t like trying to find just the right size/style/color surplus windows at auction so I didn’t feel any pressure to run out and buy run-of-the-mill OSB. I didn’t think anymore of it – until several months later (April, 2010) when I got two lumber quotes for our project. OSB was up to $12-something a sheet… and according to the guys at the store… climbing fast. In fact all lumber prices were up. Seems our timing was not very good. A few discussions with suppliers and a bit of internet research indicated that prices were nearing a peak and could be expected to come down again, hopefully. It seems that in Dec, 2009 they were at an unprecedented low… Boy if I only knew then what I know now.  ;-)


As I was still working on final agreements with the contractors and waiting to get onto the excavator’s schedule, we decided to slow our progress on the project a bit to take a watch-and-wait position on the OSB and lumber pricing. Several months passed (August, 2010) by the time the mason was starting and we really needed to order our lumber. I had been keeping loose tabs on the prices and had a pretty good idea that they had been coming down. Turns out timing is something – because we saved nearly a thousand dollars on OSB and lumber by waiting.


We were fortunate, because we could wait on the purchase of the lumber. Now that I realize what an impact timing can have on building-materials supply and cost, I’ll try to keep a better lookout for using this understanding to our benefit in future projects. I realize it’s a long shot to repeat; we need to be aware of pricing trends, have the ability to purchase early (funds?, storage?) or wait (schedules?, end dates on loans/permits?), and a bit of luck helps, too. But at least it’s a possibility, once you realize the opportunity is out there. Plus this is just interesting stuff, learning more about how various businesses/industries operate. It’s a positive side effect of owner-building for sure.


Here is a link to a forum of contractors discussing the run-up in OSB prices (April 2010):

And attached are some articles that are on the pricing issue for the information junkies among us.


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