One year after Katrina made landfall in late August of 2005, the effects are still rippling through the construction industry, especially the roofing industry. All manner of roofing material and supply prices are up 10 to 20% over the last year. Many are in short supply nation wide.
It took only days for the markets to react to the perceived needed increase in building materials in the storm ravaged southern costal areas of the United States. It took only a matter of weeks for the storm to have a major effect on the supply and price of available materials on hand nation wide. Some things like plywood and other forms of sheeting were in high demand just prier to the disaster, being used as damage control measures, and now even in higher demand after Katrina’s passing.
Due to the vast amount of damage, and the material needed to rebuild those damaged areas, supplier seeing that shortages in production were inevitable, immediately raised prices to reflect the coming shortages. But the extent of damage was far greater then anyone had anticipated. Reports of damage took weeks and in some cases months to filter into the big picture. All the while suppliers pushed production plants into high gear to try to meet the staggering new demands on materials.
The problems of production quickly became apparent with major shortages in raw material as a result of the damage to southern sea ports where much of the raw materials used in production are received from suppliers around the world. Many of the damaged ports utilized special handling equipment and procedures that would be difficult to duplicate quickly in other sea ports around the country. These post Katrina developments all served to put a server strangle hold on production of Roofing material as well as many other building materials.
Roofing material suppliers diverted in transit shipments to staging areas close to heavily damaged areas. In many cases, larger warehoused stocks of tiles, shingles, metal roofing and related materials were snapped up from large to moderate distributors and transported to Katrina affected areas, leaving many areas of the country with little or no available roofing materials.
Some mistakes were made in the redistribution of roofing materials. Costal areas that are subject to hurricanes have special codes in place that set specific standards for roofing materials, meaning that roofing materials that are approved for use in Nebraska are not necessarily certified for use in hurricane prone regions of the country. Yet virtually all roofing materials were subjected to large quantity redistributions it would seem. One speculation is that companies were hoping for some new guidelines to be put in place that would allow them to use the currently unapproved materials by utilizing upgraded and modified installation methods that in theory would satisfy the roof testing standards. But this is only speculation.
Never the less it quickly became apparent to contractors and home owners nation wide that going to the local lumber yard or Lowes’ or other building supply store and obtaining roofing materials will be a much more expensive and challenging experience, possibly for some time to come. It is not uncommon for local distributors to have to wait weeks or even months for roofing materials to become available. Even those materials that are not costal approved. The reason for this type of shortage is caused by the shift in manufacturing to produce more coastally approved materials, which is where the largest demand in usage is in the current market.
The shortage in conventional roofing materials has brought with it a renewed interest in less conventional roofing ideas in many areas of the country. Metal roofing which some years ago, was commonly thought to be reserved for commercial buildings, is now growing in popularity with home owners. New concepts in metal roofing systems as well as new designs have made it an appealing alternative to such things as asphalt shingles and clay or concrete tiles. Metal roofing in its infancy was less then esthetically pleasing to the eye. New designs have emerged in recent years that can mimic almost any kind of roofing material, making it one of the more versatile roofing materials available.
Due to the large amount of new and repair construction taking place in storm damaged areas, metal roofing too has come to be in short supply along with all other roofing materials, and may remain so for some time to come. Only about halfway through this year’s hurricane season, no major storms causing any significant damage have hit landfall in the United States. But should that change, and a storm would happen to cause even moderate damage along any of the nations cost line, the results could be even more devastating to the roofing and general construction industry, the effects of which will be felt by consumers for years to come.
The shortage in roofing materials, such as clay and concrete tiles has spawned a new industry so to speak; roofing salvage. With material increasingly hard to acquire, there are companies that specialize in sorting through discarded roofing materials searching for undamaged, usable materials that people are willing to pay for in order to complete restorations or repairs.
The total affect of Katrina will ultimately have on the roofing materials industry is hard to speculate on. Will prices continue to rise at the rate we have seen this last year? No one can say for sure, the determining factors are too great. Basic laws of economics apply, low supply plus high demand always drives prices up. Where will it stabilize? Again there is no way to accurately forecast the supply and demand issue long term.
What is clear is that raw material supply lines are opening up again, which is easing the manufacturing bottle neck slightly. It still may be quite some time before the local supplies have stocks affording customers reasonable onsite selections again. It will be a fact of life, that consumers ultimately will pay higher prices
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