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Rapidly rising homebuilding costs bring non-profit home builders more challenges

Lumber costs went up 120-140% since September alone.
Rapidly rising homebuilding costs bring non-profit home builders more challenges
Posted at 3:14 PM, Jan 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-23 19:43:35-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Rising construction costs are a major contributor to the lack of affordable housing in the Pikes Peak region, giving nonprofit home builders a new set of hurdles to clear.

It’s a sign of the times. Home costs seem to be growing just as fast as our region.

“When I first started working in the Springs, they were running $150,000 and you could get an okay house,” Kris Lewis Medina said. “And now the median is well over $300,000.”

Lewis Medina is all too familiar with the cost of building homes. She’s been the executive director and CEO of Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity for a bit now.

“With this affiliate, six and a half years,” Lewis Medina said.

And she’s noticing a trend.

“Concrete for us has gone up nine percent,” she said.

The things needed to build a house are getting quite pricey.

“Lumber costs have gone up, you’re looking at 120-140% since September,” she said.

Lumber costs are high nationwide after mill shutdowns due to COVID-19 caused supply to become pretty scarce.

“When I started here in the Springs, we had fully developed lots for like $22-28,000,” Lewis Medina said. “Fully developed lots now are running at a minimum $69-100,000.”

And that’s an issue more unique to our area.

“There’s not a lot of land available out there for us, or the builders who build for homeowners in the lower income to middle income,” she said.

That makes things tricky for a non-profit organization like Habitat for Humanity.

“Right there, we’re behind the eight ball,” she said. “Because as a non-profit, we have to raise all those funds to get the land.”

So who’s to blame for all these record prices? Are homebuilders just getting greedy? Not at all if you ask Lewis Medina.

“They try to make 6-8% margin on their homes,” she said. “But they’re having to pay wages on top of increased construction.”

That’s one place where habitat for humanity has the advantage.

“Our homes are built 95 percent through volunteer labor,” she said.

Even still, things aren’t as easy as they used to be. but--maybe it’s a sign of the times--the movement to give back keeps growing too.

“And we’ve been fortunate. We did have 30 developed lots donated to us recently, so thank goodness for that,” she said.