Spanning the Truss Shortage

There have been many challenges in the construction industry over the past 24 months, but one that has surprised many developers and builders is the unavailability of wood trusses. A problem that seemingly started to appear at the very end of 2021 has now shockingly escalated into lead times measured in months and even years.  I’ve had truss and lumber vendors provide insights into how this situation came to be, and two reasons have been mentioned consistently.  One cause was a shortage of truss gusset plates that caused a bottleneck to the production lines.  The other, and likely the bigger contributor to the shortage, is that many truss manufacturers presold their production capacity to the homebuilders, who all have voluminous production targets for 2022.  I have been advised that the truss vendors have configured their production lines to quickly and efficiently crank out single-family and townhome trusses and have little desire to stop production to reconfigure assembly lines to accommodate trusses for commercial and multi-family projects.  Currently, commercial and multi-family developers and contractors are being quoted the earliest availabilities of 2023 for trusses.  

We have been quick to pursue possible solutions to help our clients with their project schedules.  The first is to field build trusses on-site, the old-fashioned way.  This is a bit of a lost art for many production framing crews, especially in the South, but some have adapted quickly and are fulfilling the need.  This solution doesn’t work perfectly for large multi-family projects where the need for prefabricated trusses still exists.  Many contractors are looking to vendors outside of the Southeast to supply trusses on their projects.  We know of trusses coming from as far as Colorado and Arizona for Florida projects. We also have vendors throughout the mid-west gearing up to supply our Florida-based projects.  The recent and untimely spike in fuel costs will impact transportation costs, increasing the cost of goods; however, most of the developers we’ve talked to will happily pay slightly higher prices for trusses rather than wait until 2023 to build their projects.

Jeremy Bartolovitch

Vice President of the Southeast Region

The Douglas Company

Vice President of the Southeast Region

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