Have you walked or driven along Ruapehu St recently and wondered what all that scaffolding is doing around one of Taupō's most visible buildings?

It's the start of a $1.64 million upgrade to the Westerman building on the corner of Ruapehu and Roberts Sts, opposite McDonald's.

If you're a regular customer of the businesses in that building, fear not - they will all remain open during the six-month project.

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Ben Westerman of Westerman Property Solutions says the building is owned by his grandmother Dorothy Westerman and was constructed in 1993.

He says the building's roof needs replacement and while the massive scaffolding is in location it makes sense to do other upgrades that are needed, including recladding the exterior, replacing the first-floor window joinery with double glazing and removing the glass canopies over the entrance ways.

The project requires a huge scaffolding because of the height of the building's apex windows and the entire edifice will be shrink-wrapped which will protect workers from the worst of the elements.

The building has seven tenants, which at ground level includes Mancraft Barbers, Epiphany Cafe, Bayleys and Cafe Baku; and all will remain open and accessible during the project.

"It's going to take six months so it's a big disruption for the tenants because the building is going to be wrapped and everyone's going to lose their view of the lake but the businesses are still open, particularly on the ground floor," said Ben.

"We're getting new signage done to put on the outside of the shrink wrap and we're putting in fairy lights under the veranda in conjunction with Towncentre Taupo to brighten it up and let people know that it's still open."

Local construction firm Wade Construction is doing the work and will employ local subcontractors where possible.

John Wade of Wade Construction says local roofers, scaffolders and joiners will all be used, along with around 10 Wade Construction workers at a time and the only out-of-town help will be from specialised firms.


"We'll have lots of Wade workers and 95 percent of all the workers on it will be locals," John said.

"It's a big project but it's not complicated, just large-scale, a big building and a big exterior."

Ben says while they were initially hoping the building upgrade would be complete by the time of the 70.3 Ironman World Championships at the end of November, both the championships and the building project have been delayed by Covid-19.

The building project's estimated completion is the end of November so that it won't impact on Taupo's busy summer season and Ben says the final result should be worth the wait.

"When they finally take the wrap off it will be a completely different looking building."