The wealth of construction’s richest personalities has risen by a third over the past 12 months despite the downturn

The Sunday Times Rich List of the UK’s wealthiest 1,000 people revealed construction’s best rewarded individuals became £1.5bn richer last year, with their collective wealth rising from £4.5bn to £6bn. However, the 36 contractors, housebuilders and material merchants who made the list are still less wealthy than before the credit crunch (see graph).

One analyst said: “The increase comes on the back of a big fall the previous year, so they’re simply working their way back to where they were. Their portfolios have been boosted by the FTSE 100 and Dow Jones rising about 60-80% since last March.”

The industry’s biggest climber was Keith Miller, head of the contractor and housebuilder Miller Group, whose wealth rose to £385m (2009: £180m), making him the 175th richest person in the UK. The top construction boss was new entry Shwan Al-Mulla, who came 132nd with £500m.

Al-Mulla is president of the Iraqi Consultants and Construction Bureau, which has been doing rebuilding work in Iraq.

Another unfamiliar name was Lawrence Tomlinson, who set up Leeds-based LNT Construction in 1990. The firm, part of the larger LNT Group, builds elderly care homes in northern England. Tomlinson was placed 168th after his wealth rose £100m to £400m.

Other entrants on the list included Andrew Wates (287), who retired as chair of Wates Group in 2006 and became £105m richer, with £220m. The McAlpine family’s (300) wealth rose from £95m to £210m, while the Shepherd family (309) rose from £170m to £200m. Steve Morgan (190) stayed static on £350m, dropping 44 places, and Ray O’Rourke (281), who stayed on £230m, fell 38 places.

Lord Foster (394) dropped by £2m to £168m, following a donation to Yale University’s School of Architecture, and David Mabey (329) of Mabey & Johnson dropped £4m to £196m after his firm was fined last year for breaching UN sanctions in Iraq.