Ever wondered what the world’s most expensive renovation job is? We all carry out renovation jobs to people’s homes and buildings every day. But it’s nothing quite like the plans just revealed to work on the Houses of Parliament!

32 years and £5.7bn

You may or may not have been aware, but the Parliament building is in a pretty sorry state. In fact parts of it are actually sinking!

A 2012 report said that without major restoration work, the building would suffer major irreversible damage. So an independent panel has been hard at work trying to come up with various plans and solutions to try and save the worlds most historic parliament building. Which ever option it’s chosen, it’s not going to be cheap. Or quick.

The headline amount of £5.7bn is the option where all MPs and Lords stay inside the house while restoration goes on. Naturally while a working Parliament is in full flow, restoration work is going to be at crawling pace. The report explains that should MPs and Lords remain, the work could take anywhere between 25 to 40 years to complete, with 32 years being the safe middle ground estimate. The cost for this option is likely to be £5.7bn, but the highest estimates could put the cost at £7.1bn!

Here are some of the other options:

  • MPs and peers move out for 6 years – cost would drop to £3.5bn
  • MPs and peers move out for 6 years – spend £3.9bn and build an extra visitor centre, as well as exhibition, conference and education facilities
  • Partial vacation, MPs first, then peers to follow – no extra upgrades, cost would be £3.9bn and would most likely take 11 years, could be up to 14
  • Same partial vacation – upgrades added to Parliament would push up bill to £4.4bn

Either way, one option has to be picked, because if something isn’t done soon, there is a fear that the foundations of the building will start to sink into the Thames. Oh, it’s also infested with rats, the cabling is badly outdated and it contains asbestos.

Click to read BBC report and see where MPs and peers could be relocated

Is it worth it?

As with all renovations costs large or small, cost has to be weighed up versus the overall and long term benefits of the work. Some will look at that £7bn figure and gasp. With the Tories still banging the austerity drum, some might feel a tad uncomfortable about billions being spent on the Houses of Parliament.

But for me, it’s very much worth it. Not only is it a symbol of democracy in this country, but a symbol of democracy and governance around the world. We might not all feel that hot about politics at the best of times, but to let such a special building go to rack and ruin would be criminal.

If I were to pick an option, I’d heave all MPs and peers out and let the restoration work start as soon as possible. Six years is a way better time scale than 32 years. Lets have them relocated further north, show the rest of the UK that they really do care about us up here. Save a few quid and get them back into parliament as soon as possible.

I wonder what work they will be doing to the windows?

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