Jarnac Court refurbishment costs up by 300%

Thursday August 20th 2020


The building being refurbished in Jarnac Court, Dalkeith.

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

In November 2018, Midlothian Council agreed that the upper floor offices at Jarnac Court in Dalkeith, the block occupied by Subway and the Continental Cafe amongst others, could be refurbished and utilised for emergency homeless accommodation.

The report to councillors at the time highlighted that there were a number of benefits that this project would bring. These included reducing the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for homeless households and thus providing a saving to the council as a result. It would also make use of council office accommodation which was no longer required and would otherwise sit empty. On average each night Midlothian Council will have approximately 46 households in bed and breakfast type accommodation. Around 40 of these will be single people.

At the time Midlothian Council’s Construction and Design Team estimated the cost of works in connection with refurbishing the building as £443,000. However, during 2019 it became apparent that repairs were required to the exterior of the building that had not been considered as part of the refurbishment works to the building.

In August 2019, the council’s Cabinet agreed to an additional expenditure of £93,000 in order that the external repairs could be carried out in addition to the refurbishment works.

In September 2019, an external consultant team was appointed to project manage, develop the design and provide detailed costing for the proposed works. Their assessment of the total cost of works was that the project could not be met within the existing budget. This was partly due to revised planning and building standards conditions which had not been anticipated during the initial cost estimate. As there was a change of use from commercial to residential then building standards must be applied to the refurbishment as if the building was being built as new.

In December 2019, Midlothian Councillors agreed at the full council meeting to increase the overall budget for the project to £1.15m.

At the same meeting they also agreed to extend the remit of the Business Transformation Steering Group to include the reporting to and scrutiny of all capital projects, which included Jarnac Court.

Additionally councillors requested costed proposals to enhance the outside of the building be prepared. So at the full council meeting next Tuesday (25th August 2020) the following four options are being presented for consideration

– Option 1. Do not undertake external enhancements

– Option 2. Cleaning stone panels only – estimated construction cost £180,000 (excluding VAT).

– Option 3. Cleaning stone panels and capping frame – estimated construction cost £222,000 (excluding VAT).

– Option 4. Remove and re-clad the external envelope – estimated construction cost £250,000 (excluding VAT).

However, further costs have also been identified and will be presented to councillors. The report says:

“During the development of the scheme design the architect has advised that the roof waterproofing appears to be overlaid on a previous membrane. Due to this and the limitation on the height of the upstands at the roof edges it is not possible to overlay sufficient insulation and apply another waterproofing layer to the existing roof finish. Furthermore the floor to ceiling height of the 2nd floor is insufficient to allow the necessary insulation and a ventilation void to dissipate the condensation below the roof slab.

“There is no allowance in the costed scope of works for replacement of the roof waterproofing as with a 5 year envisaged life it was not considered that this would be needed. Due to the limitations on the existing building it is not advisable to further overlay waterproofing on the existing membrane and professional advice is that the roof should be stripped back to the to the slab and a new membrane applied.”

The report says the estimated construction cost is £210,000 (excluding VAT). The revised cost of the refurbishment works and the annual cost of running the establishment will required to be met from the Housing Revenue Account Capital Plan.

So in summary, the initial budgeted cost was £443,000 (November 2018), it was increased to £1.15m (December 2019) and now if councillors approve the changes it could increase from between £210,000 and £450,000, which gives a new budget of £1.355m to £1.605m which is an increase of at least 300% on the initial budget.

The December 2019 report to councillors said it was envisaged that the building work would be completed by September 2020. The latest report does not give a revised completion date. The delayed completion date does mean that the council will not yet be able to make the expected monthly savings on bed and breakfast accommodation that it anticipated.


An illustration of the external enhancements to the building in Jarnac Court

The report to councillors can be read HERE and the full designs for Jarnac Court external changes can be seen HERE.

The full agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting is available HERE.

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