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Builders and Renovators, Beware: Copper is Worth a Pretty Penny

June 14, 2006

Builders and renovators, beware: Copper is worth a pretty penny

By KATE SHELLNUTT

When Sam Dowdy hands over the bill for electrical work, usually customers just sign on the line.

Recently, however, he has begun to hear this type of response: “That seems like it’s a little high.”

To Dowdy, “a little high” is an understatement. Last year, it cost $695 to wire a hot tub; this year, it costs $895. Last year, it cost $1,000 to wire a three-bedroom house; this year, it costs $4,000.

In recent months, electricians, plumbers and contractors have raised prices significantly to cover the rising price of copper. The monthly average price on the London Metal Exchange was $3.65 per pound for May, up 70 percent from $2.15 for January.

Copper prices peaked at $3.99 per pound on May 12. While prices have dipped recently, investors predict the price will stay relatively high. On Monday, copper closed at $3.28 per pound in London. Entire story

Due to the high copper prices, there has been a string of burglaries nationwide to unsecure construction sites. Thieves are going into the unsecured sites and stealing the copper wiring right out of the walls. Montana law requires the project be “dried-in” before electrical work can begin. We have also requested our builders to make the project secure to help prevent any theft.

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