PREMIER HOUSE – PRIME MINISTER'S RESIDENCE

PROJECT TYPE: HERITAGE

USE: PRIME MINISTER’S RESIDENCE

LOCATION: TINAKORI ROAD, WELLINGTON

CLIENT: DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

ARCHITECTS: GRANT GROUP ARCHITECTS

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 1990-1991

The Prime Minister’s residence, which was once a school dental clinic, was completely refurbished in just six months. Demolition work began in December 1989, after LT McGuinness won the tender over 21 others. Premier House had to be ready for occupation by June 1990.

The design retained internal walls and left all rooms and passages largely in their original position. Considerable slumping had occurred over the years so the building had to be brought into square and levelled.

Walls were stripped, straightened and re-lined, and old fire-damaged and rotten timbers were cut out and replaced. Old finishing timbers were replaced with timber cut to an identical profile. An original moulding head for the arched/coffered ceiling trim in the kitchen was found at Odlins and reused to run new mouldings.

A new hydraulic lift was installed. Replacing the sprinkler system and installing the pipework for the heating system through the existing structure “was no easy task”, recorded the Quantity Surveyor Journal in its 1991 issue.

The Journal commented: “At the peak of construction activity, the old house resounded to 50 pairs of boots. Through the enthusiasm of the construction group working as a team and especially the efforts of LT McGuinness, the house restoration was completed on June 22 1990, within both the time and budget cost constraints.”