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 and to undertake repairs to wiring and plumbing at the property.

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 depicts the new work now free 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

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

  • Works currently in progress include:
    • the installation of new slate
    • the removal of hazardous materials
    • the demolition of the existing kitchen and staff area
  • Manteena took site possession on Monday 23 September 2013

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

A tender process for the engagement of a Head Contractor has concluded with Manteena Pty Ltd awarded the contract.

Manteena Pty Ltd will be responsible for delivering the construction phase of the works including:

  • Replacement of the deteriorating slate roof
  • Electrical re-wiring of the house
  • Repairs to substandard plumbing
  • Installation of a fire protection system
  • Upgrade to the heating and cooling system
  • Removal and remediation of potentially hazardous asbestos containing materials

Construction activities are anticipated to commence on site in late September 2013, with completion anticipated in mid 2014. This will be followed by a 12 month defects liability period.

The tender process 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 (DSC) 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 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

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 ‘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.

What happens following the PWC notification process?

The PWC were notified of the proposed works on 25 June 2012. The PWC considered the request for these works to proceed as ‘medium works’ and had no objection to the works proceeding on that basis.

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

The project was referred to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC) for consideration under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. SEWPaChas advised that there is no controlled action required, meaning there is no heritage impact on the property by the proposed works.

The National Capital Authority Development Application was lodged on 14 September 2012 and approved on 16 October 2012.

Was the Prime Minister involved in the decision to initiate the project?

The announcement of the Administrative Arrangements Order, following the 2010 Federal Election, resulted in the responsibility for managing the property being transferred to the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, is responsible for all decisions relating to the execution of the project.

Finance is sensitive to the inconvenience caused to the Prime Minister and staff and will work to minimise the inconvenience during the construction phase.

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.

Where will the Prime Minister stay during the refurbishment works?

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for the Prime Minister’s accommodation arrangements.

How long will the project take to complete?

The construction phase is anticipated to take upwards of eight months, during which time the premises will need to be vacant. Following completion of construction there will be a standard Defects Liability Period (DLP) of 12 months during which time the property will be re-occupied.

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

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

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