When it comes to employee compensation, the emphasis today is on the total package. No matter what the size of your company, paying a competitive hourly rate is only the first step to attracting and keeping employees. Often the true differentiator is the variety and value of fringe benefits your company offers.

But how much is enough? And which benefits are perceived to be most valuable by the industry workforce? We hope this Wage & Benefit Survey will help you find the answers to these and other questions about employee compensation. The wage portion covers a spectrum of job descriptions that, while it may not match up perfectly to your company's employees, will give you a benchmark against which to compare pay scales for key positions. It may also provide you with a starting place for creating a career track that spells out the prerequisites for advancement. The benefits section covers everything from health, vision, and dental insurance coverage to retirement and profit-sharing plans; and from paid holidays, vacation, and other leave benefits to vehicle, cell phone, and work clothing allowances.

More than 540 remodelers nationally completed this Wage & Benefit Survey, which is the first in what will become a regular December research feature on the indirect costs of running a remodeling company. We hope you find it useful.


Hourly pay is the foundation for hiring and keeping good employees. “We try to exceed what our competition is paying. That's the only way we are going to attract people,” says owner John McCloskey of J. Francis Co. in Pittsburgh. He tracks field wages by networking with area carpenters, remodelers, and union representatives. He also checks classified ads for those that include a salary range. To attract qualified carpenters, McCloskey has had to increase the lead carpenter salary by 20%. He has also hired a few union carpenters who were willing to give up union membership for the steady work his company provides.

In Shreveport, La., remodeler Jeb Breithaupt of JEB Design/Build has had to be vigilant about field wages so he does not lose employees attracted to the high wages being offered to rebuild New Orleans, which is just a six hour drive. On the administrative side, Breithaupt says he is competing against other office positions, so he asks temporary employment agencies for information about average wages.

Christine Ramaekers of Mainstreet Restorations & Remodeling in Birmingham, Mich., says wages are just 60% of the equation. “It is the entire package in our case. We offer full benefits,” she says. “Experienced carpenters and office staff ask about benefits.”