Timber Prices Continue to Rise While Steel Remains a Better Alternative

Timber Prices Continue to Rise While Steel Remains a Better Alternative

By: Jeff Philbin, Marketing Director, Helicon

In a blow to millions of prospective American homebuyers, the U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed countervailing duties averaging 20 percent on imports of Canadian lumber to the U.S.

The Trump administration announced last Monday that it would impose new tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports, escalating a longstanding conflict with America’s second-largest trading partner.

The Commerce Department determined that Canada had been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber products to the United States, and after failed negotiations, Washington decided to retaliate with tariffs of 3 percent to 24 percent. The penalties will be collected retroactively on imports dating back 90 days.

Why should such a development be of concern to Americans? Because U.S. trade policy can have a direct impact on housing affordability. If these duties remain in effect throughout the year, the National Association of Home Builders estimates they will result in the loss of:

•      $598.3 million in wages and salaries for U.S. workers

•      $350.2 million in taxes and other revenue for governments in the U.S.

•      8,241 full-time jobs

Moreover, lumber prices have already jumped 22 percent since the beginning of the year, largely in anticipation of new tariffs. This price spike has added nearly $3,600 to the cost of a new single-family home. When you consider that each $1,000 increase in the median price of a new home makes homeownership unaffordable to 150,000 households, you can quickly see how this tariff can have a ripple affect across the nation.

The United States and Canada have been at odds over softwood lumber in one form or another since the 19th century, with the current dispute tracing back to 1982. The United States imported $5.7 billion in softwood lumber last year alone, mainly for residential home building

It’s not just homebuyers and consumers who are hurt by tariffs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, housing and related industries that used softwood lumber employed nearly 4.5 million American workers and outnumbered U.S. lumber-producing workers 31 to 1. The U.S. does not produce enough lumber to meet the nation’s needs. Last year, 33 percent of the lumber used in the U.S. was imported, and more than 95 percent of those imports came from Canada.

So what are your options if lumber prices continue to climb impacting the cost of those timber piles needed to support your foundation?

With steel at all time low prices, Helicon Property Restoration has the better solution

A Pre-Construction helical pier is a type of structural pier, which is installed below the structure before it is built. The steel pier is tied into the footer of the structure to keep the structure from moving due to weak or compromised soils. Normally this consists of a type of multi lead helical pier that is driven with precision deep into the ground until it rests soundly upon the underlying load-bearing strata.

The helical piers are embedded within the foundation via a custom footer bracket. When the building contractor places the concrete foundation, the bracket is essentially embedded into the footer by twisting the rebar into the top bracket thus making the Pre-Construction piers an essential part of the foundation once the concrete has cured.

More and more architects, engineers, and construction professionals are paying closer attention to the potential of soil issues such as buried debris, clay, and muck and sinkhole damage. These professionals are taking precautionary measures to prevent the problem before damage begins. By installing a deep foundation system prior to building you can ensure the structure will rest on a solid base for years to come with a less expensive alternative than timber piles.

Pre-Construction piers are easy to install, only taking 2-3 days to drive and weld a whole house. They are also cost effective when compared to other retrofitted soil improvement systems and all Pre-Construction piers come with Helicon's Lifetime Warranty on workmanship completely protecting you with the most comprehensive warranty in the industry and you could easily save thousands of dollars in sinkhole coverage premiums by using Helicon for your restoration project.

Advantages of our pre-construction helical piers

  • Can be installed year-round
  • Round shaft has a high resistance to bending
  • Galvanized steel resists corrosion for long life
  • Cannot be seen after installation
  • Can be installed in tight spaces
  • Minimizes the seismic activity and ultimate noise of pounding into the rock layer
  • Load is transferred through problematic soils to bedrock.
  • The drilling process ensures the pier is seated in the rock.
  • Calculation of the load is simple. No need to use a complicated load-bearing calculation that may or may not be accurate. 100% of the load is seated in bedrock.
  • The piles are easy to handle and are available in multiple lengths.
  • Can be drilled through dense layers. The lateral displacement of the soil during driving is low.
  • Can be driven in hard soil conditions and to greater depth.
  • Higher load capacity  
  • Faster and easier installation, and lower overall cost.
  • Can be encased in concrete, if required.
  • Greater design flexibility for the engineer. Many design options available
  • Less expensive than timber
  • Lifetime warranty

Limitations against its current competitor – Timber Piles

  • Salt-water corrosion limits life of piles.
  • Pile Cap installation costs are greatly increased due to deep excavation requirements where sub-soil water level is very low.
  • Low joint strength limits the depth of the timber piles.
  • Lower load-bearing capacity.
  • Timber piles must be cut off below the permanent ground water level to prevent decay. If the water table at a site is at a greater depth, extra cost of excavation needed to provide the pile cap may render the choice uneconomical.
  • Increased safety concerns during installation in filled-in ground.

Want to learn more?

Helicon is the premier geotech construction company in Florida. Based out of Tampa, FL. we are a licensed general contractor leading the industry in full-service geotech construction work.

We are experts in pre-construction, soil and structural stabilization, & sinkhole repair. As the premier provider of geotech construction services throughout the state of Florida for nearly 15 years, Helicon prides itself on providing high quality service, for both insurance companies and private customers with handling all repairs and pre-construction work for both residential and commercial projects. We strive to exceed everyone’s expectations.

Helicon has successfully completed thousands of projects in the state of Florida with a focus on the Tampa Bay metropolitan area, including the surrounding counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Citrus and Marion counties. Our professional Helicon Teams are trained and equipped with the tools and expertise needed to execute a flawless and professional experience using the latest technology to repair or prevent for your particular project.

We invest in our teams ensuring they remain up to date on the latest industry technology and training. Our Office Teams will answer all your questions, provide professional service, give knowledgeable advice, and execute a project that will fully satisfy our customers.