The deadline for the Scottish parliament has been put back six months – but the indications are that it may slide further yet.
Doubts remained this week over the completion date and overall cost of the Scottish parliament, despite the client's confirmation that the deadline had been moved back six months and that the cost was likely to rise another £15-25m, as first revealed in Building two weeks ago.

The project is now due to finish next July and to cost about £400m, but it is possible that these figures may not be final. The client imposed a freeze on design variations in April in an attempt to avoid further delay. Building understands, however, that there were 300 variations in July alone, and that there are 36 architects on site working on drawings.

In his report last week, presiding officer George Reid confirmed that completion of the whole scheme had been pushed back to July.

Although Reid would not be drawn in on the implications of the delay, the final cost of the parliament is understood to be £390-400m.

He said: "You will appreciate that the quantity surveyor is unable to quote specific figures before it has the opportunity to examine the final programmes; indeed to do so could be commercially damaging." Reid added that he expected further cost details next month.

The report attributes the delay mainly to glazing problems in the lightwell area of the debating chamber

The report attributes the delay mainly to glazing problems in the lightwell area of the parliament's debating chamber. It adds that installing anti-blast windows had hit the programme. The report said: "Meeting the blast criteria is resulting in major problems for the fixing of windows. Bolt holes have had to be re-drilled, which is time-intensive, and this has required the removal of some cladding elements."

Reid also announced that he had agreed a fee cap with the five main consultants – construction manager Bovis Lend Lease, quantity surveyor Davis Langdon & Everest, architects EMBT and RMJM and structural engineer Arup. Reid said this would make an immediate saving of £4.6m.

A Bovis spokesperson said it had agreed a lump sum on its fees and staff costs although the terms of the deal are confidential.

Steel’s story: How the fiasco happened

The Scottish parliament’s former presiding officer David Steel, whose handling of the parliament building was described by construction minister Nigel Griffiths in June as “naive”, last week justified his role in the programme. Here are extracts from his speech at the Edinburgh Book Festival: “It is simply untrue that the cost of the building has increased 10 times … The 1997 Blair government white paper on devolution suggested a parliament could be built for £40m. But that was not this building … After the choice of a complicated site and an international competition among selected architectural practices, the project was handed over to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body under my chairmanship at a cost of £109m. “We soon discovered that there was a difference between the notional parliament on which Enric Miralles and his colleagues had been working and our actual parliament, because it lacked some of the facilities we already had. To get it right, parliament approved a 50% larger redesign at a cost of £195m. The actual cost has almost doubled from that estimate … Suffice to say that the construction management approach which we inherited meant every item went out separately to tender, and to some extent we’ve been victims of our own success. During the last five years, Edinburgh has become a boom city.” Steel then talked about the refurbishment of Queensberry House. “At every stage, decisions made by anonymous officials seriously upped the cost, so that instead of £7m, this part of the project is costing £14m. The politicians, of course, get blamed. “I should just ask you to note that almost every unique public building has suffered similar problems over estimates against out-turn: the Palace of Westminster in the late 19th century; the British National Library; famously the Sydney Opera House. What we will have, admittedly at great expense, is a building of international renown that the people of Scotland will enjoy for many generations to come.”