Every taxpayer in Britain will have to pay up to £240 to fund the restoration of the Houses of Parliament unless MPs agree to move out for at least six years while the work takes place.
Crucial work to prevent the Palace of Westminster falling down could cost as much as £7.1 billion and take four decades, an independent report found on Thursday.

Would any of our resident building types care to comment? Sure, I know it’s a large and old building but billions to refurb?

How much of this is fair and how much is governmentitis?

30 thoughts on “£7.1 billion?”

  1. Not a building restoration expert but – 7.1 billion, *maybe*.

    4 *decades*? Not on your life.

    The Big Dig got done in 15 years, and 15 billion (dollars) and that’s a huge tunnel.

  2. The key part seems to be “unless they move out”. It’s a lot more expensive, slower and more difficult to structurally renovate a building without disrupting the people using it. If you can cordon it off for the duration things are much easier.

    The article says: Without vacating, 7 bil and 40 years. With vacating, 3.5 bil and 6 years.

    Sounds like they should find somewhere to put the politicians temporarily. And no, you can’t send them to Australia, they’ve taken in enough British crooks.

  3. There is nothing on God’s green earth more stupid or gullible than a civil servant awarding a building contract.

    May it please the Lord, small fry contractor that I am, that I too, will someday get a government construction contract. I shall forthwith slaughter a lamb in sacrifice.

  4. Presumably though they can’t just hire cheap Poles and Bulgarians to do the work, because half of them will end up being Russian spies who will fit the place with more bugs than a rainforest.

  5. I depends, I suppose. It is in central London where costs are horrendous. And there is probably a load of modern, Green-type shit thrown in about energy efficiency and disabled access which the new building has to meet – coupled with a load of shit about how in the interests of conservation the building cannot be changed very much.

    The raw fact is the building, due to its age, is likely not fit for purpose any more. Probably the best course of action is to keep the facades, tower, and roof, support them with an independent steel structure, then rip out the whole core and replace it. But people won’t like that, so the spec. is probably an appalling, unworkable mess resulting from an attempt to compromise functionality with retaining everything about the existing building.

    Plus, 7.1 billion is the budget price. The final price won’t be shy of 20 billion, and that is a serious amount of money.

  6. “Presumably though they can’t just hire cheap Poles and Bulgarians to do the work, because half of them will end up being Russian spies who will fit the place with more bugs than a rainforest.”

    Given a fair few on the Labour benches were working for the Russians even when they were trying to annihilate us, I’d not worry too much about our enemies being able to listen in to debates on the Cycling Proficiency Test (Miscellaneous provisions) Bill. Indeed Handy Hancock was still deep into Russian Relations until only recently.

  7. St Pancras is a good comparison.

    Nearly half of the 7 billion relates to cots of continued occupation. It decanting the users, it reduces to 3.5 or 4 billion.

    I’d expect the unit area cost to be higher due to all the artwork, craftsmanship and plush. The HoP have 12 floors as opposed to 5 or 6 at St P, and is much bigger anyway.

    So yes – the cost is in the ballpark.

    The big issue is to keep out interfering politicians. That as what screwed Holyrood, and a celebrity architect.

    The way to save money would be to relax on the restoration faithfulness.

    Or cut the cost from 500 mill to 400 mill for running the place, and it could self fund

  8. Tim: I suspect you’re wrong about the budget price vs the actual price – following the Treasury’s adoption of the Green Book, projects like this one effectively have overruns built into the costing (and this seems to be working: Crossrail and the real Olympics budget* were both met. The big recent disaster – Edinburgh trams – wasn’t subject to Green Book rules because there was no direct Treasury funding). Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why it looks so ridiculously huge.

    Agree on all your other points.

    *the one put together by engineers and surveyors after the bid was won using Green Book methodology, not the one that was back-of-enveloped by politicians before the bid.

  9. When the rulers declare that a body is “independent”, stay not upon the order of your going for they have beggared description ( h/tip Bill Burroughs)

  10. At the risk of being unpopular…..

    It would be cheaper and quicker just the build a new parliament building. OK, we might have to avoid the pretentious architects brigade in order to have something simple and sober that will last, but you could probably do it for about a billion.

  11. £7.1 billion? Entirely possible.
    But very little of it will go to blokes, get their hands grubby, rebuilding Parliament. There will be a lot of people, with letters after their names, considering upgrading the Mercedes & where to buy that second home. ‘Tis always thus.

  12. I know someone who has a senior role in the running of the commons admin. If even 2% of the horror stories they tell of incompetence, spanish practices, outdated equipment/systems/mothodologies, resistance to any kind of change, and constant interference from Union-backed MPs and deranged Lords, then I can well understand it.

    That said, is it remotely reasonable that MPs can demand £4billion at a time when ‘austerity’ is only managing to cut £3billion from our expenditure.

    If the SJW lot are marching in the streets to protest at the latter, why not the former?

  13. I want to know where they’ll relocate to. Birmingham maybe? Dewsbury?

    Somewhere, anyway, where they can experience the rich diversity of life in modern Britain that they have brought about.

  14. Re-locate them to a marquee in one of the London parks. People can pass and see and hear the bastards in action. And know what they are getting for their money. Perhaps even join in the debates.

    Best of all it would be just the venue for a boxing booth. Step up and defend your policies against all comers.

    The Greatest Show on Earth. Not.

  15. The HoP would be far better used as a Museum of State Atrocities. Audio-visuals, waxwork tableaux and countless exhibits showing the long history of evil, cruelty, mass-murder, torture, theft and lies that is the state. It would beat the shit out of the London Dungeon and visitors from everywhere on Earth could visit and witness the horrors that have gone on in their own lands. It would have universal appeal since everywhere on the planet suffers from the same malady.

  16. It would be cheaper and quicker just the build a new parliament building. OK, we might have to avoid the pretentious architects brigade in order to have something simple and sober that will last, but you could probably do it for about a billion.

    Got to agree with this. Parliament is a half-medieval, half-Victorian structure in the wrong place and not easy to upgrade. Far better to build a new, purpose built Parliament and office for 500 MP’s elsewhere (Tower Hamlets or Canary Wharf maybe) and just do the necessary work to stabilise the existing building and turn it into a museum.

    The works of Pugin and others are worth preservation, but it is difficult for the general public to view them due to security concerns.

  17. Sell it. A Gulf or Russian crook will buy it for his London Palace, and he can pay for restoring it, at least in appearance. Build a modest replacement in Berwick-upon-Tweed, and just bloody get on with it.

    Or, come to think of it, isn’t there some windswept, cold spot in Northumberland where it’s thought the Angle pirates held their chinwags? Use that. Sitting in the open air will keep the debates short.

  18. Be much cheaper to build a new parliament. How much was the Welsh Assembly one?
    How much was the Scottish one supposed to cost?

    Thats the kind of budget they should be thinking of.

  19. Doubt anyone here knows the ins and outs – or is at liberty to say even if they do – but when they built the new spies’ palace, how did they make sure the construction work was not infiltrated by the undesirable? Anything from planting devices to just mapping out the building and its utilities would be a Bad Outcome. Ok, so you do basic vetting checks on the workers, but if they’re (so their perfectly convincing documents say) from Bulgaria just how effectively can that be chased up?

    Palace of Westminster would be at least equally as sensitive a job.

  20. No idea about the building work for the spooks, but at our place we did some pipework on a slightly sensitive nuclear material processing facility.

    Our project manager had to undergo major background checking, and had to be in eye contact with any of our other staff at all times on site (even had to follow them to the loo!)
    (They had some background checks run on them too, but not as many).

    Probably doubled the cost of that particular job.

    Main concern there was probably industrial espionage – I’d guess keeping Russian bugs out at Westminster is worse.

  21. Even if we assume the ambit of modern government should be as all-encompassing as it is, why, in an age of electronic multimedia communications when most MPs conduct what passes for rhetoric over the airwaves or on Twitter most do not attend most debates and most legislation is secondary and therefore no debated anyway, do they need a permanent building?

    There’s a couple of massive conference centres just over the road for the occasional necessary get-together and insofar as they need to be in London at all the rest of the time, what’s wrong with hiring office space?

  22. In my mind, the building is very architecturally undistinguished, anyway. In addition, there is a need to improve traffic flow by connecting the Victoria and Chelsea embankments. Demolish it, connect the roads, and move the politicians to a new office park out near Dartford somewhere.

  23. TheProle

    Fascinating stuff. Much obliged. All Brit crew, I wonder? (and by accident or design?)

  24. dearime: Yes, it’s called Otterburn, and the MoD already own it. So move the squaddies out & build a cheap & cheerful conference centre without heating.

  25. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Every time you find yourself asking how some government project could possibly, possibly cost the eye-watering amount of money quoted, remember that the budget for the NHS Spine electronic records project was £20 billion.

    It does strike me, however, that if there’s seven billion sovs floating around to prop up the Houses of P., there might have been enough to provision the aircraft carriers adequately (i.e CATOBAR).

  26. In my mind, the building is very architecturally undistinguished, anyway. In addition, there is a need to improve traffic flow by connecting the Victoria and Chelsea embankments. Demolish it, connect the roads, and move the politicians to a new office park out near Dartford somewhere.

    The tower and the chiming of Big Ben are pretty iconic though. Would be a shame to see them go.

  27. “… be a shame to see them go”.

    You disappoint me. You’ve never had the Guy Fawkes/V for Vendetta fantasy?

    Oops, did I write that out loud?

    I love the idea of turning it into a multi-storey. Or an investment bank. Or a bowling club. Or an assembly hall for unreconstructed WI-ists.

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