Posted on: 12 August 2019

Which projects have taken the longest to finish?

The construction industry has had huge advances in technology that have allowed building projects to be completed in a much shorter time scale than previous generations. Some sources claim that the Great Wall of China took over 2,000 years to build, Stonehenge is thought to have taken over 1,500 years to build, and most cathedrals are thought to have taken anywhere between 500 to 800 years.

Thankfully, we now have tools and machinery that make projects move at a much quicker pace, but there have still been some building projects throughout the 20th and 21st century that have taken a long time to complete. Take a look below to see some of the longest construction projects of the modern era.

What has taken the longest to complete?

Royal Liverpool University Hospital

Construction on the Royal Liverpool University Hospital started in 2013 by Carillion and was due to be completed in 2017, however after spiralling costs and Carillion’s liquidation in 2018, the project was picked up by Laing O’Rourke to complete the job. They commenced work in 2018, but the issues left over by Carillion, have created huge costs.

The project was due to be completed in 2017 following 3 years of construction, but after 6 years and multiple delays, the project currently still has no completion dates, as subcontractors are unwilling to get involved.

Sydney Opera House

One of Australia’s most iconic landmarks was designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, after he won a competition to design Sydney’s new opera house in 1957, and was granted permission to start work in 1958, however, the construction encountered a whole host of issues.

Additional costs, scheduling overruns and the architect resigning led to delays that would end up costing $102m, however the original budget for the project was only $7m. The project was estimated to take 4 years to complete, however all of the delays led to the new opera house opening in 1973, 14 years after construction began.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a man-made body of water that cuts through Panama to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The canal was designed to make it easier for ships to transport their cargo. Construction started in 1881 by French colonists, but after 20,000 deaths caused through the construction, the jungle, swamps and tropical disease, the French handed over to the Americans to finish the project.

The canal was finally completed in 1914, 33 years after construction began.

Bay Gateway, Morecambe

A project close to home for Premierline. The Heysham to M6 link road, known as the Bay Gateway, is a dual carriage way that links Heysham to the M6. The port at Heysham offers transport links to Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man. The new Bay Gateway created an easy access route for vehicles to get to the port.

Plans for the road were introduced in the Road Plan for Lancashire, which first surfaced in 1948. Plans were then revived in 1962, but planning permission wasn’t granted until 2008, with the road finally being opened in October 2016, 71 years after the idea was introduced.

La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s famous cathedral started construction in 1882, 137 years ago, under the Spanish architect, Gaudi, and is yet to be completed. The project was delayed by the Spanish Civil War, lost design plans, design changes and lack of funding.

The cathedral has also been waiting on a licence to continue with the construction of the project, which has now been granted, but they must also wait for the approval of urban planning to be able to continue with building some of the spires.

Gaudi famously said “my client (God) is not in a hurry”, which is lucky, since it is still unlikely to be completed until 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s death.

Contractor insurance with Premierline

There is a huge variety of different businesses in the  construction industry, whether you are a small builder or a large contractor your business will need comprehensive business insurance to cover the work that you do and protect your livelihood.

At Premierline, our insurance experts will assess your business’ needs and work with some of the most well-known UK insurers to find the right business insurance quotes for you at a competitive price. Get in touch with one of our insurance advisors for a no obligation quote.


Image of Royal Liverpool University Hospital – “New Royal Liverpool Hospital, under construction” by Rept0n1x is licenced under CC BY 2.0

Image of the Heysham Bypass – “The Beaumont Gate Bridge over the Heysham to M6 Link Road” by Ian Taylor is licenced under CC BY 2.0

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