A new survey reveals the locations and job titles within the industry that command the most impressive wages and bonuses. Matilda Battersby reports.

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Many of us would like to know what our bosses and colleagues are earning, but are too polite to ask. Now, thanks to exclusive research by executive search consulting firm Beaumont Bailey for Building’s sister title Housing Today, you can get a reasonable guage.

Beaumont Bailey asked leaders at the largest 50 UK housebuilders questions about pay and job satisfaction, receiving 272 anonymous responses, offering insights into the salaries of 10 high level job titles within the sector.

Salary survey 2023 results 

Salaries are presented as a regional averageScotlandYorkshire and North EastNorth WestMidlands (including East Anglia)LondonSouth East (Home Counties)South West & WalesSalary AverageSalary RangesAverage Annual Bonus (shown as a % of salary)Bonus Ranges
Regional chair / divisional MD £232,000 £242,000 £244,000 £262,000 £289,000 £271,000 £219,000 £251,000 £219,000 to £325,000 98% 85% to 125%
Managing director £169,000 £174,000 £183,000 £191,000 £220,000 £188,000 £156,000 £183,000 £140,000 to £250,000 69% 40% to 150%
Finance director £110,000 £108,000 £102,000 £119,000 £133,000 £125,000 £114,000 £121,000 £82,000 t0 £158,000 40% 20% to 75%
Development director £109,000 £125,000 £123,000 £119,000 £182,000 £143,000 £117,000 £131,000 £85,000 to £263,000 49% 15% to 105%
Land & planning director £107,000 £110,000 £124,000 £115,000 £160,000 £130,000 £140,000 £126,000 £90,000 to £175,000 56% 30% to 105%
Technical director £108,000 £105,000 £105,000 £110,000 £149,000 £124,000 £103,000 £115,000 £86,000 to £168,000 52% 20% to 100%
Commercial director £140,000 £124,000 £128,000 £125,000 £184,000 £112,000 £85,000 £126,000 £85,000 to £184,000 67% 35% to 100%
Construction/build director £119,000 £127,000 £130,000 £122,000 £162,000 £150,000 £154,000 £135,000 £97,000 to £165,000 55% 25% to 105%
Project director £97,000 £114,000 £119,000 £105,000 £133,000 £121,000 £107,000 £114,000 £80,000 to £153,000 44% 20% to 75%
Sales & marketing director £135,000 £125,000 £108,000 £107,000 £117,000 £130,000 £138,000 £123,000 £88,000 to £161,000 66% 20% to 120%

The survey results reveal that a regional chair or managing director at one of the largest 50 UK housebuilders is paid £251,000 a year on average.

Almost half (98%) of that £251,000 income comes from bonuses, with regional chair and divisional MDs likely to receive a bonus of between 85% and 125% of their yearly salaries.

A regional chair or divisional MD based in London will receive the highest pay at £289,000 per year on average. But salaries for both job titles are well above £200,000 across the UK regions surveyed. The lowest salary in this bracket is in the South West and Wales region, at £219,000.

The research also reveals that the second-highest salaries among leaders in housebuilding are commanded by managing directors, who earn £183,000 on average including bonuses.

“The biggest takeaway from the survey is that there is still a lot of money to earn in this sector. The salaries are very healthy, as well as the bonuses,” says Elliot Course, director of executive search at Beaumont Bailey.

Annual salary changes

Job title20232022% change
Managing directors 183,000 180,000 1.6
Finance directors 121,000 119,000 1.6
Development directors 131,000 134,000 -2.2
Land & planning directors 126,000 121,000 4.1
Commercial directors 126,000 122,000 3.2
Construction/ build directors 135,000 130,000 3.8
Sales and marketing directors 123,000 120,000 2.5

Note: Table based on 146 survey responses. Regional chair/Divisional MD, technical director and project director categories are excluded as there was a lack of data.

Salaries can feel quite an exposing thing to share. So, perhaps understandably, not all the survey respondents chose to share their salary information for 2022 compared with 2023.

The results from the 146 (54%) respondents who did spill the beans about their 2022 income, however, suggest that construction industry salaries remain steady.

“Across almost all job titles, there was a marginal increase in annual salaries,” says Elliot. “There was a slight annual bump in bonuses as well.” 

Taking into consideration that inflation rose by more than 7% in the 12 months to June 2023, however, the results suggest that even the highest construction industry salaries have failed to keep pace with increases in the Consumer Price Index.

Development directors were the only roles whose average annual income had declined, the survey results suggest, with average salaries down 2.2% from £134,000 in 2022 to £131,000 this year.

Salaries for land/planning directors saw the biggest rise year-on-year, with a 4.1% increase. 

John Anderson, group chief executive at Allison Homes, says he isn’t surprised salaries for land/ planning directors are healthy. “If you don’t have enough land you don’t have a business,” he says. “It’s all about relationships and buying land at the right price. When the market place is particularly tough, these skills are incredibly important.”

Salary surprises

The survey revealed that development directors in London earned more on average (£182,000) than managing directors in the South West and Wales (£156,000) or in Yorkshire and the North East of England (£174,000). 

“One London-based development director who responded to our survey was paid an annual basic salary of over £260,000, which is more than the highest paid managing director in the same region at £250,000,” says Elliot.

Commercial directors in the South West and Wales had an average salary of £85,000, the lowest average for any of the roles surveyed.

Aside from managing directors or chairs, sales and marketing directors and commercial directors had the highest average bonuses, with some earning 120% of their salary.

However, Beaumont Bailey says potential bonus ranges for all director-level roles are “low compared to previous years”.

Elliot says: “The past 12 months have certainly been challenging, with inflation, the cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates all taking their toll on the wider UK economy. These macro-factors are all likely to have had an impact on the level of bonus offered by employers. Despite the challenges being faced, there are still examples where directors can earn 100%+ of their annual base salary in bonus.”

He adds: “I envisage that bonuses will be hit harder next year, because of the way the market is now.”

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The value of job satisfaction

The survey asked respondents about the three most important factors to their job satisfaction with a majority (58%) saying it was salary, followed by flexible working (49%) and strong leadership (43%).

Colin Cole, chief executive of Lion Court Homes, says: “Clearly salary is an important aspect of the total remuneration package. However, job satisfaction is the key staff retention tool and that is based on creating the right culture.”

“Apart from salary and bonus, culture, flexible working and making employees shareholders have been fundamental to attracting the best people [to Lion Court].”

He adds: ”We need to do much more to attract new people into our industry, at all levels. Salary alone is not enough. Our industry has a lot to offer but I fear that we are not an attractive industry to attract the best new talent.”

Anderson believes one of the reasons salaries are high is that it’s difficult to recruit from outside the construction industry, which makes the skills of those who are already working in it more valuable. 

“It’s quite rare for somebody to come into the industry and fully understand the industry to the extent that they can be a success quickly. Which is why growing our own talent from within our businesses is really the route to success for most housebuiders,” he says.

“Having said that, staying with the same business for twenty or thirty years is now a rarity. But staying in the same industry is more common than it would be for other sectors. If you’re in telecoms, for example, it’s interchangeable, you can move into most other sectors. Same with finance.

>>See also: Top 50 Housebuilders 2022

“Once you’re in housebuilding you tend to stay in housebuilding. [Housebuilders] need to value those people, to incentivise them not to want to leave, by paying them what they’re worth and creating a culture that suits them, is very important.”