Prepare the smelling salts, royalty fans: Buckingham Palace may look nice on the outside, but inside, it’s in shambles. Is nothing sacred?
The home of Queen Elizabeth II has been deemed to be in such a miserable state of disrepair, it’s downright dangerous to live there—which explains why the British government recently announced it’s pouring £369 million (or $467,168,760) into fixing up the place over the next 10 years.
So what’s wrong with the legendary palace, exactly? Well, for starters, the wiring in the walls is 60 years old, and at high risk for sparking a fire that could burn the queen to a crisp. Sagging drain pipes and 30-year-old boilers also up the risk of a flood or other calamities. The palace may even be plagued with environmental hazards including asbestos, mold, and lead paint. Yikes!
Not that most of this is entirely surprising—Buckingham Palace, after all, is over 300 years old. Some say these renovations are way late, not only for the benefit of the royal family and visiting dignitaries but also for the millions of tourists who check out the palace every year.
“I’m a huge lover of the British royal family and believe that Buckingham Palace is well overdue an extensive renovation,” says James Harris, a former Londoner who is the director at The Agency real estate firm in Beverly Hills, CA, and stars on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles.”
Still, though: He’d wager that the renovation will take even longer than a decade—and cost a whole lot more than projected.
“The likelihood of the project remaining inside of the budget is slim to none, as these expansive remodel projects typically go over budget, especially when you’re upgrading and redesigning a palace,” Harris adds. “My estimation is the project takes 12 to 13 years and ends up costing $800 million.”
Construction management expert Lance Luke estimates the renovations will cost even more—over $950 million—and take 15 to 20 years, depending on how large and how many crews are working on the project at the same time.
“The work involves various trades, and proper scheduling and coordination is the key,” he explains.
All of which begs the question: Given they’ll be using taxpayer money to embark on these upgrades, is it really worth all the trouble? The renovation has drawn criticism, but some say it will pay for itself in the form of tourism dollars.
“The price is high, but remember that the royals are a source of great tourist income to the country,” says real estate lawyer Bob Tankel. “A well-reasoned article in The Atlantic a few years ago figured that the income the family and institution bring in balances the cost. Absent the family and all the trappings, fewer tourists would come to visit and spend money at the castle and elsewhere.”
And besides—what country allows its royal family to live in run-down digs?
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