First Minister’s residence restoration completed at cost of £504k

The conservation work, coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland, began in October after routine monitoring revealed urgent ceiling repairs were required to the category A listed Georgian building
The conservation work, coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland, began in October after routine monitoring revealed urgent ceiling repairs were required to the category A listed Georgian building
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The restoration of the First Minister’s grade A listed official residence has been completed at a cost of £504,216 to the taxpayer.

Nicola Sturgeon will move back into Bute House next week after extensive repairs to the Robert Adam-designed Georgian building.

Details of the work were released last night, plus information about where Ms Sturgeon stayed while the work was being done.

At a cost of more than £19,000, the First Minister decamped to a two-bedroom flat in Edinburgh’s New Town which had a living room large enough to hold meetings.

Ms Sturgeon’s rent from early November to April came to just over £11,000, while £3,873 was paid in legal fees to secure the rental plus another £4,338 in property search and valuation costs. The Tories said spending that amount on legal fees, property search and valuation costs was a “foolish” use of public cash.

Scottish Conservative housing spokesman Graham Simpson said: “It shouldn’t have been beyond the wit of the Scottish Government to source an appropriate ­temporary home for the First Minister.

“Most people have to find their own accommodation and will wonder why Nicola Sturgeon has to be any different. This was a foolish use of taxpayers’ money.”

The restoration project involved fixing the decorated ceiling and the floor in the drawing room. Artwork including portraits of Winnie Ewing and Robert Burns had to be removed, under the expert guidance of the National Galleries of Scotland.

The 18th century drawing room mirror had to be removed while chandeliers were dismantled and removed. The cost of removing, repairing and rewiring two chandeliers in the drawing and Cabinet rooms, plus cleaning the drawing room mirror and the specialist artwork, came to more than £40,000.

Heating works came to more than £200,000, while extensive renovations were made to bathroom facilities, including replacing old baths with shower facilities and replacing toilets.

Last night a Scottish Government spokesman said: “All fees were entirely appropriate and represent value for money. The requirements, including security specifications, due diligence on the ownership of properties considered and the necessary assurance required mean that the process to identify a suitable premises was robust.”