Wellington Town Hall quake strengthening costs could rise

Source: 1News

The earthquake strengthening work on Wellington's Town Hall is one of the most complex construction jobs in the country and it could get even more expensive.

The Wellington City Council said delays, the difficulty of the work, and rising costs for labour and materials could push the budget over by up to nine per cent, that's a further $10 million on top of the $112 million budget.  

Already the budget has been reset four times since the building closed in 2013, growing from an original price tag of $43 million.

The council's project manager Bede Crestani described it as a "really hot market."

He said the project was proving more difficult than expected. 

"It's really one of the most complex things we can imagine doing, it's pushing everybody hard."

The work started two years ago, and inside the gutted town hall, the scaffolding is on steroids.

Metal beams criss-cross the building at every angle, keeping it secure as the vital earthquake strengthening work takes place.

Project manager Bede Crestani.

A hundred and sixty-five base isolators and 460 screw piles are being installed and the piles are drilled eight to 18 metres down into the ground.

"Some of them are higher and some of them are lower because the terrain under there is all really variable, so these are hard work to get in," said Crestani.

Every room in the 1904 heritage building is getting a makeover and the grand staircase has been taken out leaving a huge hole.

From some angles, it can appear rather precarious but it's all held in place by dozens of beams.

“There's a lot of engineering on how to support the structure, how to take the load and how to move the loads into certain parts of the building," said Nigel Burns the project manager with construction company Naylor Love.

Before work started the building was scanned so everything will be put back exactly how it was.

"You won't notice that we've been here," said Burns.

The new and improved town hall is due to be reopened by late 2023.