Skip to main content

How much will 24 Sussex cost to repair? Expert weighs in


The prime minister's residence, 24 Sussex Drive, is undergoing a massive gut-job.

Crews are stripping the historic mansion down to its framework to eliminate issues such as rodents, mold and asbestos, but with the staggering cost involved for a full renovation of the entire property, approval for the project remains elusive.

Photos posted on the NCC's website last week show the work completed inside the residence, with the flooring, plaster, and mechanical and electrical systems removed.

No one has lived at the prime minister's official residence since Stephen Harper and his family in 2015. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family opted to live at Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall.

The estimated cost for restoring 24 Sussex Drive, was initially pegged at $36.6 million in 2021. Adjusted for inflation, this figure climbs to approximately $42 million today.

The question looms, is it worth the investment?

Steve Barkhouse, an expert developer, with more than 35 years of experience and owner of Amstead Design-Build, a multiple award-winning property design and restoration company.

He says the significance of preserving the heritage of 24 Sussex Drive, built in 1867, is a must.

"I got to tell you, this structure looks really strong from the pictures I'm seeing," says Barkhouse.

"Some of the renovations to 24 Sussex were done well, some not so well and that's an important factor moving forward that we're going to be working with, good and poor renovations, as any homeowner does."

A glimpse of the work completed inside 24 Sussex Drive, with the flooring, plaster, and mechanical and electrical systems removed.. (National Capital Commission)

Examining the various rooms within the residence, Barkhouse identifies areas where preservation is feasible, like in a foyer, where the original wood staircase, floors and walls still remain.

"This reinforces the point about heritage. You can see just that incredible hand-crafted ceiling. To see that they save that and it can be restored is fantastic in my opinion," he says.

"We're going to have to get some historical trim work put back in there. So there's some work involved, but the area is not very big, $15,000 to $20,000 is going to do this one room to finish it because all it is is finishes.

"We're going to redo the flooring, probably refinish the stairs, everything else is paint and trim work."

But other rooms, such as the bathrooms and kitchens, demand significant structural repairs, including new plumbing systems.

"This looks like you've got a washroom, you've got your vanities and these are all the drainpipes and vent pipes. I like how they cut through the studs here, that's not great but all the plumbing has got to come out here," says Barkhouse.

"There's going to be a lot of bathrooms in there, a lot of plumbing but it's not millions. If I had to guess for plumbing with fixtures, $200,000, $300,000 somewhere right there, I think that that would get the whole place done."

A glimpse of the work completed inside 24 Sussex Drive, with the flooring, plaster, and mechanical and electrical systems removed.. (National Capital Commission)

The National Capital Commission released photos of 24 Sussex Drive after abatement of designated substances and removal of obsolete mechanical, heating and electrical systems. (National Capital Commission/website)

In photos of the upper level of the near three-dozen room house, Barkhouse notes some areas where water-damage is evident.

"Seeing water damage, which is an indication, as we know, that they haven't maintained the building for so many years," he says.

"I'm also seeing some concerns up in here with the brick. It looks like that's a load bearing wall. It looks like the structure is resting on that and there's some loose bricks in there that's going to have to be addressed."

Notably, Barkhouse emphasizes that 24 Sussex Drive is not just a residential property but a commercial facility with multiple buildings, each requiring attention. Moreover, the aspect of security adds another layer of complexity to the restoration project.

Proposals for the revitalization of 24 Sussex Drive include a draft-design by, Mark Brandt of Trace Architecture, which adds a new official-wing in place of the existing pool house and uses sustainable materials for long-term viability.

However, Barkhouse suggests that achieving the desired outcome will require meticulous planning, substantial investment in design and skilled labor.

"I think it's probably a year to get it designed properly, invest in that and I think you're going to spend $5 million to $6 million million on architects and engineers," he said.

"I think it's going to take another two years to get the job done and I think you're going to be another $15 million to $20 million at the most."

The National Capital Commission said the abatement and demolishing work inside 24 Sussex Drive was scheduled to be completed over the winter. The work includes removing designated substances and obsolete mechanical, heating and electrical systems. (National Capital Commission/website)

In Barkhouse's estimation, which is lower than NCC quotes, he contends that preserving this iconic landmark is essential for future generations of Canadians.

"We're not talking about Trudeau here, we're talking about all prime ministers into the future," he says.

"And I think that it is a symbol for Canadians and they should be proud of it and I like the fact that it has a historical significance to it."

The NCC says the decommissioning work on the official residence of the prime minister is scheduled to be completed this summer, while officials continue to decide the future of the property. Top Stories


opinion Joe Biden uses bully pulpit to bully Donald Trump on debates

Donald Trump had spent weeks needling U.S. President Joe Biden for his refusal to commit to a debate. But Washington political columnist Eric Ham describes how in one fell swoop, Biden ingeniously stole the issue from the Trump campaign and made it his own.

Stay Connected