Why the cost of home renovations in Norway is rising
Norway can be one of the priciest countries in Europe to renovate, even if you do it yourself, and the cost of home improvements is rising due to the soaring prices of one crucial material.
Home improvement projects in Norway can really leave a dent in your personal finances for a number of reasons.
To start, there's the increased cost of labour due to high wages in Scandinavia.
Then, certain rooms can only be worked on by professionals and must be completed to a specified standard, meaning you can't do it yourself. Bathrooms, as an example, cost an eye-watering amount to have renovated: between 200,000-300,000 kroner, due to the requirement for them to be done to wet-room standard.
Consumers in Norway are now feeling the pinch even more as the average price of timber has skyrocketed by 65 percent over the past year, according to Statistics Norway's construction costs index.
Several factors are driving the rising prices of timber. These include extensive bark beetle outbreaks in Canada and across Europe, which has led to a worldwide shortage of timber.
The shortage has been exasperated by increased demand in Norway and various knock-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
"The reason for the price increase is first and foremost an imbalance between supply and demand and strong competition in international markets," Heidi Finstad, administrative director of Treindustrien, which represents the wood and timber industry in Norway, told public broadcaster NRK.
"The second part of the explanation is that the cost of running production has increased significantly during the pandemic. It involves personnel costs related to sick leave, transport costs," Finstad added.
But what has this meant for consumers? In short, this means that the rising prices of raw materials and increased operating costs during the Covid-19 pandemic have been passed on to them.
"When the costs go up, it's the customers who end up with the bill," Tronde Lingjerde, who runs timber company Alltid Tjenster, explained to NRK.
This has led to many delaying their home-improvement projects until a later date.
"There are certainly people who have changed their minds and decided to wait with their projects until the prices go down," Lingjerde said.
So will prices go down once supply catches up to demand and the pandemic is gone?
"When the situation normalises, we can expect prices to go down again a bit. Not necessarily to the level it was before, but at least with a bit more normalisation," Thomas Iversen from the Consumer Council told NRK.
"From our side, it seems as if price growth over the past year is due to extraordinary circumstances in the global timber market. It should stabilise when things return to normal," he explained.
Despite forecasting that prices would go down, Iversen said that those looking to make a few home improvements should budget for higher prices regardless.
"Consumers who are going to build or refurbish should budget in the event that prices remain high in the future. You shouldn't budget for lower prices," he told NRK.