On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Commerce proposed a 20% tax on Canadian softwood lumber, which is one of Canada’s biggest exports and used to build most American homes.
The Trump administration says government subsidies make Canadian lumber artificially cheap, but will this new import tax raise the cost of building a home?
The National Association of Homeowners condemned the administration for the choice, arguing that it will price some Americans out the potential to build a new home.
A Green Bay general contractor disagrees, and says it will not affect the overall cost of materials by much. He says lumber prices usually fluctuate anyway.
“At the end of the day it really is not a big factor for us, I mean this happens on a yearly basis,” Al Dorn, Jr., the general contractor with Al Dorn Construction, said. “The market has been pretty flat since 2008, but before that there were many issues that have fluctuated lumber prices more significantly than we will see an impact of this.”
For the cost of building a new $250,000 home, the new tax could set you back a little, but not by much.
“It’s really a minimal cost, you’re looking at $1,500 to $1,700 price difference,” Dorn, Jr. said.
Governor Scott Walker is praising the import tax on timber from Canada, saying trade should be both free and fair.
“The timing might be more tied in directly to the dairy issue, but this is an issue that’s been raised many times before,” Governor Walker said.
If imports do become too expensive, the lumber industry in the United States may look for an alternative.
“It’s not like if it’s too expensive we’re just going to skyrocket in price, we’re just gonna use the next cheapest thing that is suitable for what we’re using it for,” Dorn, Jr. said.