Submit your credit crunch questions to CM’s expert panel

2009 doesn’t really have that glow of optimism, does it? With all the instability we’ve been experiencing recently in the construction sector and the wider economy, next year is instead shrouded in questions and uncertainty.

But we’re hoping to answer at least a few of the questions on the industry’s mind. For our January issue, Construction Manager has assembled a panel of experts to answer readers’ questions on how to cope with the looming recession.

Their expertise covers contract and project management, legal issues, marketing, HR and skills and training. The panel is happy to answer questions related to running contracts and businesses, personal issues on careers, redundancy and training, and more strategic, general issues. They won’t have all the answers – but they should be able to float a few ideas and share their experiences.

Here are a few questions we’ve had so far, but there’s still time to submit yours (until December 5th). Send a text to 07884 423205, email, or or call 020 7560 4153.

How do I ensure that machines and vehicles are maintained to run efficiently and safely when money is tight and I can’t afford new replacement models? And what happens if manufacturers like JCB are also cutting back costs and can’t provide the parts I need?

Works manager

When should full business rates kick in on speculative developments? Should contractors complete the full fit out or hand over after shell & core, external envelope, first or second fix? I’m worried about a repeat of the early 90s when builders completed offices, but couldn’t hand them over to clients because the clients didn’t have anyone to fill them. It lead to messy legal problems.

Site manager, regional contractor

In a competitive market with prices going down, are we going to return to the ways of 20 years ago with more cost and time restraints on projects – which would also mean more claims problems?

Project manager, national contractor

"During the current downturn in construction activities, can universities expect a rise in applications for Masters degrees, to enable applicants to diversify themselves from their peers?"

Project manager, national QS