Almost half a billion may seem like a lot of money for a full-house rehab, but one has to remember that Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms, 78 bathrooms, 1,514 doors and 760 windows. Worse, the heating system's boilers are more than 33 years old and getting repair parts is something of a challenge.
100 miles of electric wiring is considered to have the "very real risk of fire and failure", said Mr Johnstone-Burt, Master of the Queen's Household, with much of it installed in the pre-Beatles years.
The work will be done in phases, completing one wing at a time, and contracts will be awarded separately for each phase.
Of course, some are questioning why the residence has been allowed to get so, well, shabby, and if proper maintenance over the years would make the current refurbishment less costly. But with more than 50,000 guests for state banquets, dinners, receptions, meetings and such, wear and tear is inevitable. Mr Johnstone-Burt said the work when completed is designed to extend the palace's working life by 50 years.
Although the Queen has other residences available, she plans to stay at the palace during construction.