Some North Carolina Home builders and contractors say that President Donald Trump’s new tariffs will likely significantly increase Hurricane Florence restoration and recovery costs.
Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminium are adding cost pressures, and further load is expected as the administration imposes a planned $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese-made products, including countertops, furniture, and gypsum – the fundamental material in drywall.
“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 (NCHBA), told The New York Times.
“In the short term, it is definitely hurting us,” Skip Greene, a contractor from Kinston who had already been forced to table a project because of the tariffs, told The New York Times.
“I hope that going through all this pain is worth it in the end,” he said. “We’ve got a tariff war going on with China and Canada, and the result was that I could not move ahead with building affordable housing.”
Moody’s estimates that the hurricane caused between $38 and $50 billion in damage and economic losses.
The New York Times reports that North Carolina contractors are divided on the wisdom of President Trump’s trade policies, complaining about higher prices even as they echo his complaints that other countries have taken advantage of the United States and hurt its businesses and workers.
Bob Morgan, the owner of Paragon Building in hard-hit Wilmington, N.C., said his price quotes were good for only two weeks because lumber costs had been rising so fast. Still, he supports the president’s approach.
“I do know that China has been abusing us,” Mr. Morgan said. “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.”
He added that the media wasn’t giving the president the benefit of the doubt on trade. “Trump could walk across the Potomac and the press would say Trump can’t swim,” he said.
However, The New York Times reported that other contractors say the president’s confrontational posture on trade is harmful.
The United States needs to address trade imbalances, but not by raising tariffs, said Charles T. Wilson III, a third-generation builder in Durham, N.C.
“Not only does it drive up costs,” he said, “but it creates uncertainty.”
He switched from quartz to granite countertops after the administration imposed tariffs this summer. But the latest duties on Chinese goods will include many granite products. “We’re telling clients to factor in price increases of 7 to 10 percent a year,” Mr. Wilson said.
“The tariffs don’t help anyone,” he added. “They’re not the correct tool to negotiate trade policy.”