Empire State Building USA

  • Original Budget: $386,342,340
  • Final Cost: $772,684,680
  • % Over Budget: 100%
  • Start Year: 1930
  • Deadline: 1932
  • Completion Year: 1931
  • Years Past Deadline: -1

“How tall can you make it without falling over?” That was the question from John Jakob Raskob, the boss of General Motors. “103 storeys”, was the answer, and the New York skyscraper soon matched its staggering height with an eye-watering cost - double the original estimate.

Sydney Opera House Australia

  • Original Budget: $56,236,880
  • Final Cost: $819,451,680
  • % Over Budget: 1357%
  • Start Year: 1959
  • Deadline: 1963
  • Completion Year: 1973
  • Years Past Deadline: 10

This iconic structure was completed ten years late and cost more than fourteen times the original budget. Halfway through construction, architect Jørn Utzon quit the project following a succession of disputes, describing the situation as ‘Malice in Blunderland’. He never returned to Australia to see his completed masterpiece.

Montreal Olympic Stadium Canada

  • Original Budget: $148,667,400
  • Final Cost: $3,107,148,660
  • % Over Budget: 1990%
  • Start Year: 1973
  • Deadline: 1976
  • Completion Year: 1976
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

Originally nicknamed ‘The Big O’ thanks to its name and shape, but later dubbed ‘The Big Owe’ thanks to spiraling costs (more than 20 times the original budget). Despite the hard deadline, it wasn’t actually completed on time - work on major components like the mast and retractable roof didn’t begin until after the Olympics.

Hubble Space Telescope USA

  • Original Budget: $724,000,000
  • Final Cost: $4,525,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 525%
  • Start Year: 1978
  • Deadline: 1983
  • Completion Year: 1990
  • Years Past Deadline: 7

This project got off to an inauspicious start - following delays due to manufacturing issues, post launch scientists were horrified to discover that images from Hubble were out of focus. This led to both NASA and the telescope becoming the butt of many jokes, until the issue was rectified in December 1993.

The Channel Tunnel UK

  • Original Budget: $14,559,198,500
  • Final Cost: $35,655,180,000
  • % Over Budget: 145%
  • Start Year: 1986
  • Deadline: 1993
  • Completion Year: 1994
  • Years Past Deadline: 1

The 31-mile undersea tunnel between England and France seemed like such a fun idea. That was until fires broke out. Then would-be illegal immigrants tried to walk along it to gain entry to the UK. Finally, faulty power lines saw 2,000 passengers trapped for hours without water. Final costs were two and a half times projections making the original budget seem like an infantile dream.

Denver International Airport USA

  • Original Budget: $1,860,000,000
  • Final Cost: $4,960,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 167%
  • Start Year: 1989
  • Deadline: 1993
  • Completion Year: 1995
  • Years Past Deadline: 2

Dubbed “a field of dreams” two years after construction began, the airport no doubt caused sleepless nights due to ballooning costs and repeated design changes. Coming in at $2 billion over budget, the ‘ultramodern’ baggage system that initially shredded bags was blamed for around $100 million of the overspend.

Great Belt Fixed Link Denmark

  • Original Budget: $3,417,075,920
  • Final Cost: $5,260,821,920
  • % Over Budget: 54%
  • Start Year: 1988
  • Deadline: 1998
  • Completion Year: 1998
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

The biggest building project in the history of Denmark, the Great Belt Fixed Link runs between the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen. It consists of three structures: a road suspension bridge, a railway tunnel, and a box girder bridge. It was delivered on time, but ran 54% over budget.

Millennium Dome UK

  • Original Budget: $1,133,654,445
  • Final Cost: $2,028,238,905
  • % Over Budget: 79%
  • Start Year: 1998
  • Deadline: 1998
  • Completion Year: 1999
  • Years Past Deadline: 1

Delivered a year late (although in time for the Millennium), the Dome originally housed the Millennium Experience exhibition. The was subject to controversy as it failed to attract anticipated visitor numbers, leading to huge financial problems. The Dome was eventually sold by the British Government – reportedly for just £1 – to the Meridian Delta consortium.

Jubilee Line Extension UK

  • Original Budget: $4,884,225,500
  • Final Cost: $8,997,257,500
  • % Over Budget: 84%
  • Start Year: 1993
  • Deadline: 1997
  • Completion Year: 1999
  • Years Past Deadline: 2

Pegged as one of the world’s most expensive transport projects, this 10-mile section of train line cost £3.5 billion. Apparently it’s not cheap to burrow beneath London’s grand historic buildings – something the planners probably should have considered before sending the capital’s transport finances into disarray.

Scottish Parliament Building UK

  • Original Budget: $92,142,600
  • Final Cost: $953,675,910
  • % Over Budget: 935%
  • Start Year: 1999
  • Deadline: 2001
  • Completion Year: 2004
  • Years Past Deadline: 3

Three years late and nearly ten times over budget, Architectural Review dubbed it: "A Celtic-Catalan cocktail to blow both minds and budgets, it doesn't play safe, energetically mining a new seam of National Romanticism refined and reinterpreted for the 21st century.”
Yeah, we’re not sure if that’s good or bad either.

Athens Olympics Greece

  • Original Budget: $7,383,938,400
  • Final Cost: $14,372,996,616
  • % Over Budget: 95%
  • Start Year: 1997
  • Deadline: 2004
  • Completion Year: 2004
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

Almost double its estimate, the money Greece spent hosting the 2004 Olympics was a huge cost to a country struggling with a budget deficit. Unforeseen infrastructure and concerns over security escalated the figures, as did construction delays and worker strikes.

Three Gorges Dam China

  • Original Budget: $9,853,000,000
  • Final Cost: $25,960,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 163%
  • Start Year: 1994
  • Deadline: 2009
  • Completion Year: 2006
  • Years Past Deadline: -3

Over 1.4 million Chinese citizens had to be relocated as a result of problems caused by this gigantic hydropower complex. The 600-foot high construction led to an alarming 70% increase in landslides and other natural disasters, leaving 13 cities plus many towns and villages under water.

Wembley Stadium UK

  • Original Budget: $963,290,790
  • Final Cost: $1,739,391,885
  • % Over Budget: 81%
  • Start Year: 2003
  • Deadline: 2006
  • Completion Year: 2007
  • Years Past Deadline: 1

Development of England’s international football stadium was plagued by a succession of financial and legal difficulties. In October 2005, British Sports Minister Richard Caborn promised the stadium would be ready for the Cup Final in May 2006, “...barring six feet of snow or something like that". There was no snow, but the stadium still wasn’t completed until March 2007.

Boston's Big Dig USA

  • Original Budget: $3,192,000,000
  • Final Cost: $16,644,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 421%
  • Start Year: 1991
  • Deadline: 1998
  • Completion Year: 2007
  • Years Past Deadline: 9

‘Big’ doesn’t really cut it for this project which cost over four times the budget and took nine years longer than expected. The idea seemed simple enough: to reroute the highway through the city into a tunnel. However, leaks, design flaws and even criminal arrests drove the epic overspend.

Compostela City of Culture Spain

  • Original Budget: $150,247,094
  • Final Cost: $556,470,720
  • % Over Budget: 270%
  • Start Year: 1999
  • Deadline: 2002
  • Completion Year: 2011
  • Years Past Deadline: 9

A member of the competition jury that selected architect Peter Eisenman to design this cultural complex said the decision was: “...an expensive mistake. Probably one of the largest in the history of architecture.”
The project was delivered 9 years late and 270% over budget.

London Olympics UK

  • Original Budget: $4,486,944,000
  • Final Cost: $16,396,041,200
  • % Over Budget: 265%
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Deadline: 2011
  • Completion Year: 2011
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

London 2012 came in 3.6 times over budget. Whilst there was the odd mishap – the most notable being displaying the South Korean flag next to the North Korean women’s football team at one of the opening matches – the Games received widespread acclaim for their organisation.

International Space Station various

  • Original Budget: $36,750,000,000
  • Final Cost: $105,000,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 186%
  • Start Year: 1998
  • Deadline: 2005
  • Completion Year: 2011
  • Years Past Deadline: 6

It may now orbit the earth as history’s most advanced research laboratory, but this $10 billion project wasn’t easy to get off the ground. Delays to construction and a tragic shuttle accident led to increasing uncertainties among the 16 countries involved, including fears the station wouldn’t be completed.

The Shard UK

  • Original Budget: $619,291,750
  • Final Cost: $2,123,286,000
  • % Over Budget: 243%
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Deadline: 2012
  • Completion Year: 2012
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

Costing nearly 3.5 times the original budget, The Shard was dubbed the world’s tallest white elephant. A year after completion, just 6 of the 72 floors were in use and not a single office in the 26 floors devoted to business use had been rented.

Healthcare.gov USA

  • Original Budget: $95,574,000
  • Final Cost: $306,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 220%
  • Start Year: 2013
  • Deadline: 2013
  • Completion Year: 2013
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

The Obamacare website cost more than triple the original budget and experienced a myriad of technical issues at launch, which resulted in The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart laying down this challenge to Kathleen Sebelius (who oversaw planning for the project): "I'm going to try and download every movie ever made, and you're going to try to sign up for Obamacare, and we'll see which happens first."

Leipzig City Tunnel Germany

  • Original Budget: $765,147,240
  • Final Cost: $1,284,163,200
  • % Over Budget: 68%
  • Start Year: 2003
  • Deadline: 2009
  • Completion Year: 2013
  • Years Past Deadline: 4

The tunnel was built to provide a direct rail link between the area to the south of the city and the central station. Hardly a model of German efficiency and punctuality, this project was completed four years late and 68% over budget. Still, better late than never, as the saying goes.

Edinburgh Trams UK

  • Original Budget: $625,968,750
  • Final Cost: $1,669,250,000
  • % Over Budget: 167%
  • Start Year: 2003
  • Deadline: 2009
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Years Past Deadline: 5

A mere 5 years behind schedule, the Edinburgh Trams finally pulled in at a cost of £1 billion. “Hell on wheels” was how the ex-chairman of Transport Edinburgh described the project, which caused years of disruption to the city’s roads and businesses.

Budapest Metro Line 4 Hungary

  • Original Budget: $443,426,520
  • Final Cost: $2,006,505,000
  • % Over Budget: 353%
  • Start Year: 2004
  • Deadline: 2012
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Years Past Deadline: 2

Referring to how unlikely completion of the line once seemed, PM Viktor Orban remarked at the opening ceremony: “I myself remember the once popular joke that Chuck Norris has already traveled on the M4. Today, you don’t need to be Chuck Norris to ride it.”
Retaining a sense of humour when a project is delivered two years late and 4.5 times over budget? Priceless.

Brazil World Cup Stadiums Brazil

  • Original Budget: $1,100,000,000
  • Final Cost: $3,600,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 227%
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Deadline: 2014
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

Estimated to be the most expensive World Cup tournament to date, former Brazilian footballer Romário labelled the tournament "the biggest theft in history", and called for an investigation into the widespread misuse of public funds. Stadium construction was beset by cost overruns and delays, and eight workers died in accidents while building the 12 arenas.

Sochi Olympics Russia

  • Original Budget: $12,000,000,000
  • Final Cost: $51,000,000,000
  • % Over Budget: 325%
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Deadline: 2014
  • Completion Year: 2014
  • Years Past Deadline: 0

The most expensive Olympics in history was shrouded in controversy - alleged corruption, protests over the Olympic site, and concerns for the safety of LGBT athletes and spectators. As the Games commenced, visitors took to twitter complaining about their accommodation - problems included hotels without lobbies, working elevators or running water. This spawned the twitter account @SochiProblems which attracted more followers than the official account.

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