The Trump administration’s new tariffs will add to the cost of rebuilding after natural disasters like Hurricane Florence, homebuilders and contractors say.
The officials told The New York Times that the new tariffs on Chinese goods like countertops and furniture will make construction costs about 20 to 30 percent more expensive than they would have been without the trade duties.
Wood prices are also up by 40 percent from last year, adding to rebuilding costs. The Times noted that the Trump administration slapped a 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber from Canada last year, and that prices have risen over supply issues.
And the 25 percent tariff on steel imports implemented earlier this year is also driving up costs, according to the newspaper.
“We’re all going to pay the price for it in terms of higher construction costs,” Alan Banks, president of the North Carolina Home Builders Association, told The Times.
The newspaper noted that insurers will only cover a small portion of rebuilding costs from Hurricane Florence, which recently struck the East Coast. Flood damage generally isn’t covered in homeowner’s insurance, and only 335,000 homes in the Carolinas are covered by the National Flood Insurance Program.
One contractor in North Carolina, Skip Greene, told The Times that he had already paused one project ahead of the storm because of the high prices, and that he believes costs will increase in the wake of the hurricane.
“In the short term, it is definitely hurting us,” he said. “I hope that going through all this pain is worth it in the end. We’ve got a tariff war going on with China and Canada, and the result was that I couldn’t move ahead with building affordable housing.”
Another contractor in North Carolina said that he has also experienced spikes in the costs of lumber, but that he supports President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE’s trade move.
“I do know that China has been abusing us,” Bob Morgan told the newspaper. “I don’t want everybody to pay more, but what Trump is trying to do is make us more competitive, so it’s not automatically cheaper to make everything in China.”
The U.S. has been engaging in an escalating trade war with China over the past few months, with each country slapping tariffs on billions of dollars worth of imports.
China on Saturday cancelled planned trade talks with U.S. over the most recent round of tariffs announced this week, saying none of the United States' actions have "given any impression of sincerity and goodwill."