Why Countertops, Flooring, Lighting Costs Are Rising

May 13, 2019

Those wanting to spruce up a home may need to add more money to their budget. Builders and contractors are warning that new tariffs on Chinese goods will add $2.5 billion in added costs to the home remodeling industry, and those extra costs will be passed on to customers.

Tariff costs on Chinese imports jumped from 10% to 25% on May 10, which builders say will increase the cost of about 450 goods used by the home building industry, such as countertops, like granite, marble, and quartz, tile for bathrooms and backsplashes, light fixtures, cabinets, heating and cooling equipment, and flooring.

“I wish we would not just have to pass it along to customers, but at this point I don’t know how to engineer around that,” Bruce Case, CEO of Case Remodeling, told CNBC. “We can’t use different products that aren’t as effective.”

The White House has increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $10 billion of goods used by the homebuilding industry. U.S. and Chinese officials ended two days of trade talks without a deal on Friday. China was the United States’ biggest trading partner last year.

Last week, a survey from the National Association of Home Builders also showed that a labor shortage continues to impact housing projects by increasing prices and delaying timetables. Remodeling jobs that involve carpenters, framing crews, bricklayers, and electricians are seeing some of the largest shortages.

“The labor shortage continues to be one of the top concerns for remodelers across the country,” says Tim Ellis, the NAHB’s Remodelers chair. “An ongoing challenge for remodeling is keeping their prices competitive while dealing with the increasing costs of labor.”

From half to 70% of the remodelers surveyed by the NAHB reported that the top effects of the labor shortage have been higher wages and subcontractor bids, higher prices for customers, and difficulty completing projects on time, and some have even had to turn down some projects because of it.