Here's a month-by-month summary of the biggest news stories to catch our eye throughout the year
Skilled workers at the £2.6bn Heathrow Terminal 5 project celebrate the new year with a £55,000-a-year pay deal between Laing O'Rourke and unions UCATT, GMB and the T&G. M&E workers called for a similar deal amid predictions that construction wages would soar across the South-east.

Construction misses its chance to lobby for an opt-out of central London's new congestion charge.

UCATT boss George Brumwell announces his retirement from the union after 12 years as general secretary.

Construction degrees "will be extinct in 10 years" if the decline in student applications continues, warns a report from the University of Central England.

Consultants contribute more to the UK economy than music, film, fashion and media professionals combined, according to a survey by the DTI and the Construction Industry Council.

Prescott unveils his Sustainable Communities Plan, promising £22bn regeneration funding over the next three years for PFI housing and pathfinder schemes to tackle derelict housing.

British embassies get anti-terror refurbishments, and many construction industry staff head to Iraq as army reservists.

Work on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link is halted for two months after a 10 m hole opens up near tunnelling works in east London.

Tony Pidgley Jr attempts a takeover of his father's company Berkeley Homes, but is rebuffed.

Daniel Libeskind wins the design competition for the new World Trade Centre with his "needle skyscraper" design.

Seven major building companies close their final salary pension schemes to new employees to avoid tens of millions of pounds being wiped off their balance sheets.

UK contractors get cold feet over lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts, because of fears that the country will be too dangerous for their personnel.

The first parts of the new Scottish parliament building are revealed; its construction costs continue to spiral out of control.

The construction industry fears that the government's spending on the Iraq war threatens its public sector spending plans on the home front.

Gordon Brown announces plans to issue 20,000 construction work permits to immigrants in an attempt to ease the UK's skills crisis.

The RICS faces a members' rebellion over its planned fees hike: membership costs will go up by one-third next year to fund its ambition to expand overseas.

Dawn Gibbins, founder of specialist flooring contractor Flowcrete, wins the Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman of the Year award.

The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which hosts Wimbledon, announces it is to install a transparent plastic roof over the Centre Court.

Sites face a logistical nightmare in getting hold of materials owing to a 7500-person shortfall in truck drivers, according to research by the Road Haulage Association.

John Prescott sets up a Communities Plan taskforce to tackle the South-east's housing shortage. Nearly 200 civil servants will work on the dedicated regeneration team to push forward with the deputy prime minister's £22bn plans.

PFI projects "conceal cost overruns" by increasing their budgets between the appointment of the preferred bidder and financial close, a piece of financial footwork identified by leading critic Alyson Pollock from University College London.

Schools standards minister David Miliband tells Building that a government plan to refurbish every school in Britain will cost £60bn.

Bovis breaks its silence over the Holyrood debacle to deny responsibility for the cost hikes and overruns. Instead, it blames the thousands of extra instructions issued by the architects.

The budget for John Prescott's Thames Gateway regeneration scheme is to be slashed to fund London's Olympic bid. The London Development Agency is to divert 25% of its spending on the wider region to support Olympic-related projects.

A Whitehall reshuffle demotes the construction industry, when energy and construction minister Brian Wilson is replaced by Nigel Griffiths as the minister for small business and enterprise.

A Samaritans survey reveals that every two days, a construction worker commits suicide. The death rate is higher than any other professional sector.

Building celebrates its 160th birthday! An RIBA study finds sexism is still rife in architecture, with women facing low and unequal pay, inflexible anti-family working hours, sexism and a macho culture.

UCATT slams a "horrific" surge in site deaths after the HSE disclosed there were 26 construction-related deaths between April and June, a 44% increase on the same three months in 2001.

PPP Tube consortiums Metronet and Tube Lines announce plans to shut entire lines for up to a year to halve the time and cost of upgrading and maintenance work.

Company directors come under fire as a Building survey finds their average pay has doubled in eight years. Construction and housebuilding directors now earn an average of £432,000 a year.

The CBI warns British companies of a £160bn pensions shortfall. A massive gap is opening up between assets and liabilities because of falls in the value of shares, the rise in life expectancy of the workforce and the expensive payment holidays that many firms took when the stock market was at its peak.

Alsop Architects plans office developments in Beijing and Shanghai as Western firms scramble for 2008 Olympics contracts.

The entrepreneur behind the Yo! Sushi chain plans to bring Japanese-style capsule hotels to the UK. London's King's Cross is mentioned as a potential site.

More Scottish Parliament delays increase the final cost to £400m – 10 times the original estimate – after another 300 design changes.

The Metropolitan police are called in to the Wembley stadium site to check that explosives haven't been hidden in the foundations.

Global warming could make 70% of office buildings unusable by 2030, as buildings without air-conditioning won't be able to cope, says leading global warming consultant Nick Cullen at Hoare Lea.

Carillion workers on the M6 road contract vote to hold one-day strikes over work pattern changes, including the introduction of a night shift.

PFI has given the UK the fastest-growing economy in Europe, according to a report by the European Construction Industry Federation. The UK construction industry grew 8.1% last year, and is predicted to grow 4.4% in 2003.

Prisons are to get a £3bn revamp in a 10-year refurbishment programme covering Britain's entire prison stock.

The new Construction Skills Council "will end the need for foreign workers" says education minister Charles Clarke. He thinks it will soon train enough UK workers to meet employers' demands.

Jarvis considers pulling out of rail maintenance after being singled out for scrutiny by Network Rail and the Health and Safety Executive.

The company will either sell the division, or gradually hand it over to Network Rail.

On-the-spot health and safety fines are proposed for workers and contractors who break rules, as the Department for Work and Pensions announces that it will invest £3m in expanding the HSE's roving safety reps scheme.

The Laban Dance Centre in south-east London, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, wins the RIBA's 2003 Stirling Prize.

Block planning approvals are proposed for the Thames Gateway as Prescott aims to streamline planning on major developments to speed up the delivery of his Communities Plan.

Prince Charles' charity The Prince's Trust joins the shortlist of five bidders for the Ashford masterplan in Kent, one of the biggest masterplanning exercises in British history.

PFI risks being ruled illegal by Brussels competition law, as a proposed European directive would make the current "preferred bidder" system unlawful.

Lord Heseltine tells Building that the government's regeneration policies "were all my idea". "The government has copied what they previously resisted so bitterly," he says.

Prescott gives the go-ahead to Renzo Piano's "shard of glass". Otherwise known as London Bridge Tower, the 310 m structure will be Europe's tallest building.

Design changes are still being made to the Scottish Parliament building, with 264 variations given to contractors Bovis in November. A source on the design team says this will delay completion until next August, but this is denied by the Parliament.

Subcontractors left out of pocket by the collapse of Ballast UK consider taking legal action against its former parent company Ballast Nedam after the latter issued a statement in November claiming it would support its UK division.

Hundreds of construction workers march on Westminster to protest against the industry's increasing use of foreign labour, amid concern that standards will slip.

The Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney closes because of a leaking roof. The building, designed by Hodder Associates, was £20m over budget when it was completed in 2002.

Review of the year - 2003