Malcolm Turnbull to spend first night in The Lodge

Moving house … Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Lucy Turnbull take up residence at The Lodge this weekend. Photo: Christopher Pearce Renovations at The Lodge, Canberra, are complete Photo: Supplied

The Lodge renovations cost more than $8 million. Photo: Paul Harris

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It was the renovation nightmare that ran almost $6 million over budget and took 18 months longer than expected. But at long last, the prime minister’s official Canberra residence is fit for a prime minister.

Malcolm Turnbull will spend his first night in The Lodge on Saturday – the first time the building’s been occupied since Kevin Rudd spent time there during his second stint as prime minister in 2013.

Tony Abbott never slept a single night in the heritage home. After winning the 2013 election he elected to stay at the $110-a-night Australian Federal Police college while renovations were completed.

But delay after delay ensured Mr Abbott could never move in, making him the first prime minister since Labor’s James Scullin never to use the Georgian revival-style house.

Commissioned under the Gillard government, the renovations were originally due to be finished in April 2014 at an estimated cost of $3.19 million.

But they were only completed last month and the final price tag is now expected to be about $9 million.

The renovations included asbestos removal, the replacement of the roof, heating and cooling upgrades, new lights and wiring, a new kitchen, bathroom upgrades, a security overhaul and improvements to living areas.

Since winning the leadership Mr Turnbull and his wife Lucy have been staying in their luxurious Kingston Foreshore apartment – worth an estimated $2 million – whenever they’re in Canberra.

Mrs Turnbull has been involved with decorating and furnishing choices made in recent months and has worked with curators from the National Gallery of Australia to choose artwork.

The Prime Minister is expected to host a number of Australia Day functions at the house in the coming days.

Originally known as the Prime Minister’s Cottage, The Lodge was designed by Melbourne architects Oakley and Parkes and has been in use since 1927.

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