Bute House, the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland, was closed between October 2017 and March 2018 for essential repair work. Details and costs of this work are outlined below.
- Bute House background
- overview of repair and maintenance
- drawing room ceiling and floor repairs
- drawing room artworks and significant objects
- Scottish Government-commissioned MITIE enabling works
- associated works and improvements
- breakdown of project costs: essential maintenance
- alternative accommodation for the First Minister
Bute House background
Bute House is central to the category A listed buildings to the north side of Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. Charlotte Square features in James Craig's 1776 masterplan for the New Town of Edinburgh with designs for the facades by Robert Adam. The square was constructed between 1793 and 1805 and is now part of a World Heritage Site.
Following devolution in 1999, Bute House was designated as the official residence for the First Minister. The building, which was previously used as the official residence for the Secretary of State for Scotland, is also used for Cabinet meetings, official engagements, receptions and meetings
Bute House is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and the cost of the annual lease paid to National Trust for Scotland is £70,000 per year plus VAT. Under the terms of the lease, Scottish Government is liable for all costs of repairs and maintenance.
The conservation and care of Bute House is delivered through partnership and collaboration between the Scottish Government, Historic Environment Scotland (HES), National Galleries of Scotland, National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and the Bute House Trustees. These stakeholders are the current custodians of Bute House and all stand ready to deal with unscheduled repairs, which are not uncommon for buildings of this age.
Overview of repair and maintenance
Changes to the Bute House Drawing Room ceiling were identified as part of routine monitoring during the first half of October 2017, and HES and the Scottish Government agreed the need for immediate repair work to the Drawing Room ceiling and the floor directly above. The ceiling and floor were investigated, and repairs took place between October 2017 and March 2018.
Necessary repair work was coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Government, and included input from the National Trust for Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Bute House Trustees.
In addition, the closure of Bute House for ceiling repairs provided Scottish Government with the opportunity to carry out building maintenance. Under the terms of the Bute House lease, the Scottish Government is required to mitigate the impact of building dilapidation. The unscheduled house closure provided a window of time to gain efficiency and cost savings by carrying out essential repairs at the same time as the ceiling repairs.
Drawing room ceiling and floor repairs
The ceiling and floor repair work was carried out under the direction of HES conservation teams, supported by specialist contractors. This specialist conservation has been summarised by HES below. Ceiling and floor repairs.
The works to the drawing room and the second floor directly above were undertaken to consolidate and retain the historic fabric and interior. Fine line cracks across the ceiling to the drawing room were most noticeable by the external wall, in the centre of the room and at the internal wall to the stairwell. Some cracks changed direction in a more rectilinear pattern, unusual for lathe and plaster, suggesting there could be additional loading or fixings above.
The deflection towards the centre of the ornately decorated ceiling was also more evident in close assessment with specialist plasterwork contractors and the plaster was carefully reinforced with screw fixings prior to raking out cracks and filling for redecoration.
There did not appear to be an immediate risk of large scale detachment and investigation continued to assess the upper surface of the ceiling by lifting the floor boarding in the rooms directly above. This confirmed that the ceiling lathe was directly fixed to the timber floor joists. Earlier repair works (dating from the 1980s) were apparent above the rectilinear cracks seen below.
HES structural engineers assessed that the deflection at the mid span of the floor above the drawing room could be considered as inevitable; the dimensions of the timber joists are less than expected for modern standards and the permanent deflection varied by up to 60mm.
The joists are partly built into the external masonry wall and into the internal masonry wall, which also supports the cantilevered stone stairway. It was most important to control any further loading to the floor structure and to plan access and works to minimise the effects of impact and vibration.
The floor loading capacity would also be reduced at the notches for service pipes and cables, including where drilled through the centre of joist and at the centre of the ceiling below, where the joist had been cut at midpoint and strapped either side.
Approximately seven tonnes of ash deadening was carefully removed from directly above the lathe and plaster ceiling, and protection measures were built in for the health and safety of those carrying out investigations and the works to follow. This reduced the risk of fall through the lathe and plaster and also restrained twist movement of the timbers.
HES stonemasons worked at the external wall and at the internal wall to the stairwell to form pockets to suit new steel beams. There are now 20 new steel beams built in to strengthen and support the existing timber joists.
Each beam is formed in three sections of steel channel bolted together to follow the varied deflection of the retained timber joist to which it is fixed. Timber dwangs as fitted now stiffen and strengthen the floor joist structure.
The new sound deadening with limestone chips and mineral wool is significantly lighter, at approximately three tonnes, and is now supported by the floor structure. The design and installation allowed the chandelier position to be reinforced and for redundant services to be removed, with pipes and cables now set out between new packing to the floorboards.
Laser survey set out control points for new skirting boards with the original top beading profile and, using traditional joinery skills and craftsmanship, the new floorboards meet comfortably at the three doorways. Vibration across the floor has also been assessed as reasonable to current standards and the construction can be considered suitable for the residential occupation and use of Bute House.
Some settlement and vibration to the building fabric is to be expected for a building of this age in the centre of the city.
The drawing room has been redecorated using traditional skill and care to retain the delicate plaster decoration work seen at the ceiling, cornice and frieze. Paint analysis revealed earlier decoration layers including small areas of gilding at the ceiling cornice. The parquet flooring in the drawing room has been repaired where there was surface damage at doorways and windows prior to dust controlled sanding and finishing with a clear varnish.
Cost of work
The costs of the ceiling and floor repair works delivered by HES are set out below.
|Materials purchased by HES to support repair works||Cost|
|Steel brackets, masonry chisels, granite hearth, floor insulation and modern deafening (material to replace traditional ash deafening)||£2,012.47|
|Access equipment, including scaffolding platforms||£967.88|
|Timber for replacement floorboards, skirting and levelling on the second floor, and supporting floor works||£2,735.20|
|Decoration materials (paint, plaster, etc) in line with listed building and lease requirements||£6,360.65|
|Ironmongery (door safety and repair)||£1,231.22|
|Specialist contractor labour working in partnership with core HES teams||Cost|
|Specialist painting and decorating in drawing room, above two rooms, and stairwell which were all significantly impacted by works||£14,653.00|
|Asbestos-containing material testing in all areas of work (note, no asbestos was found)||£4,035.00|
|Carpet costs: lifting, storing and replacement of carpets as a result of works||£9,930.25|
|Supplying and Fitting Steel beams to reinforce timber joists.||£12,455.00|
|Inspecting and Repairing Plaster Ceiling in Drawing Room – work to pin ceiling and repair extensive cracking||£8,400.00|
|Ash deadening removal team||£2,706.00|
|Parquet floor repair and finishing in the drawing room, which was taken forward at the end of the ceiling repairs||£1,925.00|
Total HES costs: £67,411.67
Drawing room artworks and significant objects
While the repair works were undertaken, in line with handling and care advice provided by National Galleries for Scotland, all artwork was removed from the building and placed into storage.
In addition, the chandelier had to be dismantled and removed. This enabled HES to carry out conservation repair and maintenance work on the chandelier, including rewiring.
Drawing room furniture, and the eighteenth century drawing room mirror were also removed and securely stored for the duration of the works. Costs for this specialist and essential conservation activity are as follows:
|Description of conservation activity||Cost|
|Specialist art work, chandelier, mirror and furniture removal, storage and re-instatement costs||£17,051|
|Nineteenth century chandelier conservation activity, including deconstruction (strand by strand) removal from building, assessment, repair, rewiring and reinstallation (conservation and electrical costs+); eighteenth century mirror cleaning and conservation; and cleaning of Dining Room and Cabinet Room chandelier||£23,082.35|
Scottish Government commissioned MITIE enabling works
The Scottish Government Facilities Services contract delivered by MITIE was used to supply 'enabling works' and other activity required to support ceiling and floor repairs. This included electrical, plumbing, joinery; and other essential activity carried out during the closure of the house.
A full breakdown of the enabling works costs are shown below.
|Scottish Government MITIE managed Facilities Services 'enabling works' required to support ceiling and floor repairs. This includes electrical, plumbing, joinery and other activity supporting work in the house during the closure.||Cost|
|Application of physical protection to landings and stairwell, stair rails and hall ways for the works||£6,122|
|Site meeting to discuss detail of project cross over for Drawing Room and other floor works||£160|
|Removal of existing radiators on second floor to allow access for floor repairs||£719|
|Removal and reinstatement of heating and gas pipework on second floor to allow access for floor repairs||£3,968|
|Isolation of sockets and removal of conduits to allow floor repairs||£353|
|Socket installation and rewiring on second floor to follow floor repairs.||£2,520|
|Isolation and removal of second floor lights to allow access for floor repairs and decoration||£160|
|Removal of electrical plate and reinstatement before and after decoration||£136|
|Socket installation and movement on second and third floor following heating works||£820|
|Reinstatement of light fittings on second floor||£470|
|Rewiring in Drawing Room – wiring to chandelier and all sockets; and isolation works||£4,612|
|Traditional brass socket covers to replace mixed vintage socket covers on first and second floor following rewiring||£628|
|Removal of IT cabling from second floor in advance of floor removal/repair||£320|
|Cap existing sockets below windows in third floor and install new socket||£172|
|Replacement and re-instatement of IT cabling to second floor||£2,638|
|Joinery assistance provided to network contractors to open access for cabling||£480|
|Joinery to supply replacement skirting following bathroom works||£578|
|Asbestos survey ahead of all of above works (separate asbestos requirements to the ceiling and floor repairs). Note - no asbestos found.||£1,127|
|Joinery work – floor board lifting in support of asbestos survey. Note – no asbestos found.||£320|
|Survey to lift up further flooring to assist asbestos survey. Note – no asbestos found.||£320|
|Replacement of aged domestic kitchen linoleum removed for asbestos survey work. Note – no asbestos found.||£516|
|Hallway carpet activity: lifting, rolling and storing hallway carpets and moving carpets to allow access to floor boards on second and third floors.||£2,176|
|Specialist consultancy to oversee disruptive works and advise on wiring in a listed building in relation to MITIE commissioned works.||£600|
|Supply and install a new power socket in the basement offices.||£199|
|MITIE project management fees||£6,872|
|Removal costs to and from Bute House and alternative accommodation, not shown above||£3,432|
Associated works and improvements
Under the terms of the Bute House lease, the Scottish Government is required to mitigate the impact of building dilapidation: therefore the unexpected and unscheduled house closure provided a short window of time to gain efficiency and cost savings by carrying out essential repairs at the same time as the ceiling repairs.
The Scottish Government used the house closure to investigate non-functioning ventilation systems and to carry out a drain survey, as well as preparatory works to introduce zoned heating control to the building and take heating to the third floor, and basement offices.
The essential heating improvement will also enable Scottish Government to control the wider air quality environment in the house (monitored air quality will improve living and working conditions in the house). In turn, this will also provide a more stable environment for collections management (furniture, objects and artworks), and will improve the general condition of the building fabric, and manage damp.
These essential maintenance works and heating improvements were commissioned and priced through Scottish Government Facilities Services, who interrogated costs to ensure value for money. An overall description of the works and associated costs for the three projects (heating, ventilation and drainage, and cloakrooms and bathroom projects) is as follows:
|Heating works: essential works to take heating to the third floor and to basement offices; and replace the non-functioning heating control system with a system that will enable in-building control.||£202,119|
|Ventilation and Drainage works: investigation and repair of drainage and ventilation systems across four floors (basement offices to third floor and attic level).||£48,398|
|Cloakrooms and bathrooms: an all-building project. Following on from drainage and ventilation works, SG reviewed all toilets and bathrooms and identified an all-building programme for four cloakrooms/toilets and three bathrooms in both public and private areas.||£96,834|
Breakdown of project costs: essential maintenance
A breakdown of project costs is as follows:
|Heating works: essential works to take heating to the third floor and basement offices; replace the non-functioning heating control system with a system that will enable in-building control. Total cost: £202,119||Project Costs|
|Heating system fabric design package inclusive of detail design drawings & specifications. Consultant site inspections and snagging||£3,000|
|Principal Designer duty involving preparation of Pre-Construction Information & Health + Safety File||£550|
|Heating system M&E tender package preparation and specification Consultant site inspections and snagging||£3,882|
|Fabric works: involving all necessary removals, downtakings, alterations & decoration to facilitate the heating installation||£24,969|
|Heating works: involving all new heating pipework, valves, radiators, sensors & controls||£97,476|
|Plant works: replacement of existing hot water cylinders with new mains pressure cylinders.||£8,638|
|Heating Survey and stripping out of fin radiators||£658|
|Refill heating system and set to work||£191|
|Additional parts required for heating control panel||£1,374|
|MITIE project management fees||£27,695|
The outcome of this work is a heating system that will enable staff to control the temperature and wider air quality environment in the house (monitored air quality will improve living and working conditions in the house).
In turn, this will also provide a more stable environment for collections management (furniture, objects and artworks), and will improve the general condition of the building fabric, including management of damp.
Ventilation and drainage project
|Ventilation and Drainage works: investigation and repair of drainage and ventilation systems across four floors (basement offices to third floor and attic level). Total cost: £48,398||Project Costs|
|Waste water drainage survey||£2,450|
|Ventilation survey report and design||£1,350|
|Ventilation Works involving isolations, removal and replacement of existing ventilation fans, ductwork and controls||£17,258|
|MITIE project management fees||£6,395|
The outcome of this work is a fully functioning drainage system and ventilation system across all floors of Bute House, supporting all activity in the house.
Cloakroom and bathroom project
|Cloakrooms and bathrooms in public and private areas: an all-building project. Following on from drainage and ventilation works an all-building modernisation programme to address dilapidation for four toilet/cloakrooms and three bathrooms. Total cost: £96,834||Project Costs|
|Basement office area staff shower room and toilet – replacement of aged bath with a modern shower and toilet, and painting refresh||£7,982|
|Basement office area staff toilet – replacement of faulty toilet, and painting refresh||£3,307|
|Ground floor visitor toilet – works to redecorate visitor toilet and provide improved visitor facilities||£9,843|
|Ground floor accessible toilet - works to redecorate the accessible visitor toilet and provided improved accessible visitor facilities||£9,657|
|Toilet/cloakroom – replacement of unused aged bath and sink with modern sink and toilet, and redecoration||£8,617|
|Supply and fit of replacement of building safety compliant lights for ground floor and second floor toilets||£1,393|
|Cloakroom – removal of redundant shower cubicle and redecoration||£3,630|
|Bathroom – removal of aged bath and over bath shower, installation of shower, sink and toilet and redecoration||£8,298|
|Contractors Preliminaries & General Matters||£5,344|
|MITIE project management fees||£18,774|
|Cloakroom and bathroom costs not shown above: visitor toilets splashback mirrors, hand towel dispensers, and door furniture||£644.16|
The outcome of these works, which are the first significant improvements this century, are functioning and improved toilet and bathroom for facilities for everyone in Bute House (staff, visitors and residents).
Alternative accommodation for the First Minister
Alternative accommodation arrangements were put in place for the First Minister. A number of properties were reviewed and the one selected was the best fit in terms of cost, security and size.
The alternative accommodation provided comprised a two bedroom flat in the Edinburgh New Town with sufficient space in the living room for a meeting table. Costs of the alternative accommodation are provided below.
Alternative accommodation for the First Minister
|Fees for property search and valuation advice||£4338.34|
|Legal fees to secure a 5 month letting arrangement||£3873.36|
|Rent from early November 2017 to early April 2018||£11,008.59|
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