The Lodge, Canberra - Refurbishment Works

Slate Roof


The Lodge was built in the 1920s as the Canberra residence of the Prime Minister of Australia. The Lodge holds considerable heritage significance as the only purpose-built residence for Australian Prime Ministers and their families.

The Department of Finance (Finance) is the building owner and property manager of The Lodge. Finance carries out property management responsibilities in careful recognition of the significant heritage obligations for the property.

Finance manages The Lodge and Kirribilli House as part of the Australian Government's domestic non-Defence property portfolio, which includes a number of significant buildings such as the John Gorton Building, the Treasury Building and Customs House.

Essential work is required at The Lodge to prevent further deterioration of the building fabric, to undertake repairs to wiring and plumbing at the property, and to address security, safety and functionality issues.

Property condition reports have identified that work is required to restore the property's condition to a compliant level to meet the relevant Building Code of Australia and Work Health and Safety (WH&S) obligations.

Works involved in this Project include:

Replacing the slate roof, fixing any structural defects in the roof timber frames, insulating the roof space, replacing guttering and removing redundant services such as old boiler water feed tanks and hot water services from the roof space.

Electrical Wiring and Hazardous Containing Material with temporary containment measures in place

The following photograph shows the new slate that has been installed.  The slate has been chosen to match the original roofing and copper has been used to reflect the original methods of construction.  These materials should prolong the life of the work.

New slate roof installed to match the original roofing

Removal of hazardous materials.

Removal of hazardous material

The following photograph shows the area after removal of hazardous material.

New work free of hazardous material

A complete electrical re-wiring of the house, fixing substandard plumbing and installing a fire protection system.

Electrical Wiring

Upgrading the heating and cooling system and repairing leaking bathrooms. Many of the current air conditioning units are approaching the end of their economic life and a new centralised system will improve energy efficiency.

External site
Originally constructed in 1968 both AFP Guardhouses exhibit deteriorating building fabric.  Refurbishment of the guardhouses will ensure the day-to-day operational requirements of the AFP are met. Asbestos containing materials will also be removed.  AFP Guardhouse

The refurbishment works will be undertaken in accordance with Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 [External site] (EPBC Act) requirements, noting the significant heritage and iconic status of the property.

Security measures required to protect the property will be preserved during the works.

Any disruption or potential increase in local area traffic is expected to be minimal.

Project Update

While the internal works have largely been completed ongoing external works include:

  • Demolition, design and construction of two new AFP guardhouses
  • Construction of new external toilet facilities; and
  • The gardeners shed refurbishment.

The external construction works were forecast to be completed in September 2015.

However during the demolition of the Adelaide Ave guardhouse asbestos containing fill was discovered. The subsequent safe removal of the contaminated material, wet weather and other latent conditions relating to the electrical power supply has resulted in the schedule for completion of the Adelaide Avenue guardhouse being revised to October 2015.

Due to contingency allowances this issue has not increased the overall project budget.

Project Manager Contract Administrator Appointed

GHD Pty Ltd has been appointed to provide Project Management Contract Administrator services for the refurbishment project.

Head Contractor Appointed

In August 2013, Manteena Pty Ltd were appointed Head Contractor, responsible for delivering the construction phase of the works.  Manteena took site possession on Monday, 23 September 2013.

The tender process seeking a Head Contractor was conducted through the Australian Government's Tender System, AusTender [External site] .

Further information about the successful tenderer is available on the Manteena website [External site].

Design Services Consultant Appointed

After a two stage process for the engagement of a Design Services Consultant HBO+EMTB was engaged to:

  • Prepare ‘For Tender’ documentation
  • Research and investigate property condition
  • Design the program and scope of works
  • Develop and refine cost plans

The tender process was conducted through the Australian Government's Tender System AusTender [External site] .

Further information about the successful tenderer is available at: [External site] .

Heritage Value

The Lodge retains considerable heritage significance as the only purpose-built residence for Australian Prime Ministers and their families. Designed by Oakley and Parkes and constructed in 1925-27, the building is Colonial Revival in style, with refined Georgian details, and is an important example of official residences built in Canberra in the 1920s.

The Lodge grounds contain substantial components of a rare estate landscape design by Charles Weston. The Lodge also includes the work of a number of Australian designers and craft specialists, including Ruth Lane-Poole, who designed the original interiors of the Lodge.

The Lodge remains as a landmark in Canberra symbolising the presence of the Prime Minister.

Please visit the Commonwealth Heritage List [External site] for more information regarding the heritage values of The Lodge and its history.

Heritage Listing

The Lodge is listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List, which was established under the EPBC Act.

The EPBC Act sets out obligations for Commonwealth agencies to identify, protect, conserve, present and transmit to all generations the Commonwealth Heritage values of a place.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ongoing works?

The initial works were scoped in 2010 to address urgent health and safety issues and major structural shortcomings.  As these works have progressed, other works that could be undertaken to further improve the security, safety and functionality of the residence have been identified, and it is more efficient to complete these works while a major project is underway.

What are the ‘significant technical challenges’ that the project is likely to encounter?

There is a high probability that ‘latent conditions’ (ie technical challenges usually found in work of this nature) will be encountered. One of the most challenging aspects is the cloth-covered and rubber-covered electrical wiring, installed in 1927, which runs inside steel conduits throughout the building.

Will the Public Works Committee (PWC) need to be notified about these works?

The PWC has been notified of the works within the PWC guidelines.

What other approval and/or notification processes have been undertaken?

The scope of works was referred to the Department of the Environment (Environment) for consideration under the EPBC Act.  Environment has advised that there is no controlled action required, meaning there is no heritage impact on the property by the proposed works.

Necessary approvals from the National Capital Authority are sought as required.

What are the governance arrangements for the project?

Overall responsibility for managing and delivering the project rests with Finance. Appropriate governance arrangements have been established to oversee the procurement, design and refurbishment work for the project consistent with governance processes for other capital works projects delivered by Finance.

Why not build a new residence for the Prime Minister?

The government has no plans to build a new residence for the Prime Minister.

The proposed capital works will ensure ongoing functionality and the appropriate maintenance of a significant heritage asset.

How long will this total package of works take to complete?

The scope of works is continuing on program and it is anticipated that the works will be completed in October 2015.

What is being done to protect the interior and collections of The Lodge?

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) is the agency responsible for management of the furniture, furnishing and artworks at The Lodge.  Finance is working closely with PM&C to ensure the protection of these significant cultural and artistic items.

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Contact for information on this page: Property and Construction Contacts

Last updated: 15 October 2015