The Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute (TBSI) building was €16.7 million over-budget, a Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) report has found.
Trinity spent €91.6 million on the building, ultimately reporting a cost overrun of 22%. The 35,000m building was completed in June 2011, six months later than its original deadline.
Trinity stated that the time and cost extensions were caused by design changes, problems with planning permission which “required several variations” and a dispute with the contractor.
As the basement had no designated function at design stage, the costings for this space were not fully considered. A number of possible uses for the basement were considered before College decided to fit out the space as a Bioresources Unit at a cost of €8 million.
In addition, Trinity had to compensate the main contractor for reduced commercial area. The agreed planning permission conditions reduced the planned floor area, which lead Trinity to reduce the planned commercial space in order to accommodate the necessary academic area.
Finally, a dispute arose regarding the admissibility or value of certain compensation claims by the contractor. The conciliator made a recommendation in favour of the contractor and following further negotiations a settlement sum of €6.1 million was agreed by the two parties.
The C&AG report examined ten completed construction projects in the higher education sector, focusing on the ability of higher education institutions to deliver large-scale construction projects on schedule, within budget, and to the required quality.
It showed an overall overspend of €67 million and that nine of the ten projects ended up in a dispute resolution process. Such findings raised concerns that “there may be a lack of capacity within the higher education sector to manage large scale capital projects”.
Other universities affected by the report include University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University (DCU) and NUI Galway.
Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council voted in January to allocate €7,560 of the union’s Higher Education Authority (HEA) fund to a new student space in TBSI. In December 2017, the School of Medicine agreed to provide €250,000 to create the new student space.