Governor’s Residence renovations nearly double to $13M

Renovations to the Minnesota Governor’s Residence are now expected to cost almost $13 million, nearly double the proposed cost.

The total initial cost was expected to be $7.1 million, which was announced by officials with the Minnesota Department of Administration on Dec. 19, 2022. $6.3 million of that total was designated for construction-related costs, said Curtis Yoakum, Assistant Commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Administration.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Gov. Tim Walz and his family were initially going to stay in Sunfish Lake during the renovations. However, they are now living at the U of M president’s residence following a vote of approval by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in April.

As part of the agreement, the state will pay the university $4,400 in rent and also take care of utilities, snow removal, and lawn care through at least Sept. 2024, with the chance to run through the end of next year. The Sunfish Lake lease was slated to cost nearly $315,000 in total, or $17,326 per month.

The state still had to pay three months of rent to get out of the Sunfish Lake lease, a Minnesota Department of Administration spokesperson previously confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

RELATED: Regents approve plan for Walz family to stay at U of M president’s home

The renovations are split into four packages to be bid on by trade workers, including masonry restoration, early procurement (mechanical and electrical equipment with long lead times), interior work scopes (HVAC, plumbing, automation, electrical, windows, etc.), and civil and exterior work.

As of this month, state officials report the masonry work is on schedule to be substantially completed before the winter and the mechanical and electric equipment has been ordered, said Stacie Christensen, Temporary Commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Administration.

However, the cost of interior work scopes now requires $5.7 million in additional funds. In a letter to legislative leaders, Christensen said, “This is primarily due to the need for more extensive replacement of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing system, components than outlined in the predesign, along with additional security upgrades. This work to meet current code and life-safety requirements is necessary to complete if the facility is going to remain in use.”

This means the total project budget has been raised from $7.1 million to $12.8 million.

During a review of the home, construction workers found that extensive rewiring needed to be completed as the current wiring is original to the 1912 construction, said Yoakum. Additionally, interior walls need to be demolished and repaired to accommodate new piping and wiring, and the boiler and its piping need to be replaced.

Yoakum added that the increased cost of the project is due in part to “limited capacity in market in particular for specialty trades on historic facilities” and “fewer bidders than normal due to capacity with so many projects on the market.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Administration said the Facilities Repair and Replacement account has enough funds to complete the renovation work without impacting planned repairs in other facilities.

RELATED: Regents approve plan for Walz family to stay at U of M president’s home

A full copy of the letter to legislative leaders can be found below.