Work that will allow Ōruru's iconic 117-year-old community hall, universally known as the Swamp Palace, is well under way, with extensive re-piling due to be completed this week.
The hall was closed by the Far North District Council in July last year due to serious structural deterioration, and at that stage the fate of the former cable station building was in doubt.
However, after consulting with the community, the council agreed to undertake work to make it safe, and then transfer ownership to the Ōruru and Inland Valleys Association, which would maintain and operate it.
The council's general manager infrastructure and asset management, Andy Finch, said the second phase of reinstating the building's structural integrity would begin once re-piling was completed. Structural engineering company Haigh Workmen had defined the final scope of that work.
"Unfortunately, significant past alterations to the hall's structure will need to be repaired before we can hand the building to the community. We need to be absolutely confident the hall is safe and meets current building codes," Mr Finch said.
Most concerning was the removal of roof trusses in order to provide a clear view of the cinema screen, and removal of internal load-bearing walls to enable additions to the hall.
"These will need to be replaced, along with bracing around windows and doorways added during the life of the hall," he added.
The council would tender the second phase of the project once a quantity surveyor had assessed the plans and estimated the final cost.
Mr Finch said it was too early to say how long the rebuild would take, but the council was hoping to hand over a safe, compliant building to the association before Christmas.
"We are keeping the committee updated on the work being undertaken and current timelines," he said.
The council had budgeted just over $220,000 this financial year for the work.