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Update on Lumber Prices & SD County Building Permits

Lumber Prices & Building Permits Timelines for San Diego County

Good morning. Today we’re going to cover the current permit timeframes for a custom home or ADU permitted through the County of San Diego so you know what to expect from that. I also want to give an update on lumber prices, where they are at now, how that’s affecting projects, and how we’re addressing those prices with new projects getting ready to start.

Updated Building Permit Timeline Projections

The good news is that time frames have shortened. We submitted one project on February 23rd of this year that could have issued a permit about 2 weeks ago. Because we were waiting to pay the school fees, that permit has been delayed just a bit longer and should be issued this week. About five months is the fastest a permit has come out of the county from submittal in the past year. We submitted 2 other sets of plans on that exact same day, February 23rd. Those projects do not have permits yet. There were a couple items that came up and delayed those homes from getting a permit, but for this project, it was a straightforward new custom home.

Original Permit Timeline Projections Before August 2021

Five months is down from our original projection of about 7.6 months, but we’ve had some take even longer, up to eight or nine months, since COVID changes took effect last year in 2020. So right now, five months is probably your best-case scenario to get permits turned around. Since June 15th, the county opened its doors again which allows us to go inside the building and move plans around between departments. We believe that has accelerated permit processing.

San Diego County Building Permit Timelines Going Forward

Roughly two weeks ago we submitted another project and hopefully we’ll have an update soon on how quickly the original corrections come back to us. Once the corrections are addressed, we send those back in and hopefully in a couple months we’ll get an update on the permit being issued. Maybe the time frame has shortened even further to three months, which would be awesome to see that happen, but as of now, five months is the fastest that we’ve seen one come out.

August 3rd, 2021 Lumber Prices

Now I’d like to touch base on lumber prices. Currently they have roughly settled in around the $600 per thousand board feet range. On August 3rd lumber closed at $635. Back on May 7th, the price was all the way up at $1670, and since then has come crashing way down. At one point it bottomed out near $536 and right now it’s kind of bouncing around in the low $600 range.

How We’re Bidding Projects with Volatile Lumber Prices & Permit Delays

We have 2-4 projects coming out of permit processing right now and some were originally bid nine months ago, some bid out six months ago, and with the fluctuation in lumber prices along with County delays, what we’re having to do is rebid the lumber on each project just prior to project start date or lending application. This allows us to get a lender package together with the most accurate number possible into the cost breakdown. 

Previously we were waiting to purchase lumber till it was necessary to lock-in better pricing because even now it still seems possible for it to go down a little bit more. That’s what we’ve resolved to do for now with lumber and adjusting prices for lender packages.

Update on Permit Timelines & Lumber Prices for San Diego County

I hope that gives you a little bit of an update on permit timeframes and the lumber situation, as far as pricing goes. If you have more questions, you can visit our website at tfgonline.com.

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