The federal government wants to build 400,000 new apartments each year – affordable and climate-neutral. “Good luck!” wants Leopold Göring there. “They can not,” says the master carpenter from Starnberg. It’s still early, the air is still cool. A yellow transport truck is driving through Upper Bavaria. Once from Lake Starnberg to Seefeld. Göring drives to the sawmill to pick up new wood. “Yes, who will build the 400,000 new apartments?” he asks. But it is also not a bad thing to have high goals, according to Göring, so there is at least the ambition to meet them.
Leopold Göring started his apprenticeship as a carpenter when he was 15, that was in 1996. When it comes to new, complicated orders, he likes to reassure his customers: “I’ve seen everything, just calm down.” He has his office in a construction trailer right next to the house where he, his wife and their two children live. But water entered the walls of the trailer. Two apprentices and a journeyman work all week to replace the walls and get the construction trailer in order again. That’s why Göring is not working in the office that day. “Too high here,” he says. The master carpenter drives to the workshop and then to the sawmill in Seefeld.
There are several warehouses in the premises of the Peter Schlecht sawmill. Before the ordered wood can be picked up, the order must be clarified. It happens over a cup of cappuccino in the showroom. Wood patterns hang on the walls. With a cup of cappuccino in hand, Göring says: “My coffee machine broke down this morning.” He will say this sentence twice more that morning. It seems to be his conversation starter, anyone can relate to coffee. Unfortunately also with the war in Ukraine at the moment. Göring points to the wooden example on the wall: “Siberian lark.” There would be delivery problems because: “Surprise, Siberia is in Russia.”
Wood insulation materials do not come from Poland either – because the drivers are mostly Ukrainians
The effects of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine can be felt everywhere. Wood insulation materials from Poland also no longer come because they are usually driven to Germany by Ukrainian drivers. However, the drivers are currently staying in Ukraine. General mobilization applies in the country.
Göring drinks his cappuccino. The war in Ukraine is not the only serious issue he touches on. The Starnberg carpenter often thinks of social injustice. More affordable housing is needed, he says. Housing is very expensive just south of Munich. According to Göring, a terraced house from the 1950s costs 1.2 million euros in Starnberg. A carpenter, even with a decent income, can no longer afford it. Nevertheless, he promotes the carpentry profession, which he considers extremely “sexy”: “We are the first to get tanned,” says Göring. “We should not be able to afford a gym because we are simply trained at work. We always smell pleasant of wood and are bursting with energy.” Despite the many serious issues, Göring often laughs at himself, then his left eyebrow jumps up, and the dark hat over it jumps up with it.
Another reason he drives to the sawmill: he uses the place as storage space. Last year, panic buying caused the price of timber to skyrocket. German wood was exported to the United States. Above all, solid construction timber (KVH), which was used for construction, became rare. In Germany, there were suddenly longer waiting times.
Göring’s tip: “I just advise any craftsman to take a four-week holiday. Then we get off this hamster wheel” – and then the price drops again, as less is built in a short time.
By 2021, the price of wood had temporarily doubled
In 2022, the price of wood will only be about 20 percent above the previous year’s level, explains Stefan Krötsch, professor of architecture at Konstanz University of Applied Sciences. But by 2021, the price of wood had temporarily doubled. But not only that: “Rising prices are not an exclusive problem with wood, but the prices of all building materials are rising,” Krötsch explains. “Germany is building a lot right now,” he says – and with the 400,000 apartments a year, the new target for the federal government, it will not fall. And if these new homes are to be built sustainably, they should actually be made of wood. Because trees convert a ton of carbon dioxide into a cubic meter of wood. This CO₂ is only released again when the wood has burned or rotted. “It’s actually the main argument in favor of timber construction,” explains expert Krötsch. “When houses are built of wood, it is not only the forest that stores CO, but also the built environment, that is, towns and villages.” Wood construction is not only climate neutral, but even draws CO₂ from the atmosphere and replaces steel and concrete, which cause a lot of carbon dioxide in production.
Göring also argues for sustainable construction with wood. “What do you do when it rains? You stand under a tree when there is nothing else around,” says Göring, “we are much closer to the forest than we always think.” A simple example, which he clarifies: “The first buildings were a fork branch, then you put a branch over and then the house was finished.” The forest is everywhere. According to Göring, the great thing about wood construction is: “I can simply say: My house is just around the corner.”
Unfortunately, appreciation of wood as a material is often lacking, says Göring. He keeps repeating that wood is sustainable: “Trees are the filters in our air, they keep making our air cleaner. And before the price went up, wood was sold at dumped prices for years.”
Göring himself did not care much about the increased prices last year, customers only had to pay for it. And then there were the delays in delivery and the consequent delays in construction. Franz Hochmann, who has worked in Göring since his apprenticeship, remembers: “I heard from customers that it had become more expensive for them – and that they had to wait a very long time. We sometimes had twelve weeks delivery time for wood insulation.”