As soon as the government gets involved in a public construction/renovation project costs sky rocket. I can only attribute it to bureaucracy, corruption, and indifference since the tax payers pockets are endless. Contractors all have to be Unionized (good/bad?), it seems there is no urgency to do anything quickly or in a cost effective manner.
When you look at the renovations on the subway taking place at Royal York Station, it's comical. The project shouldn't take more than 3-6 months but it seems they want to drag out the job so they can retire after it's complete in 20-30 years. Runnymede Station took about 5 years and I'm not sure they're finished. Something like pulling up 200 sq/ft of tile can take a 1-2 months of 2-3 guys working 8 hours a day.
This is what happens when there is corruption with no oversight and the source of payment is the tax payers pocket.
Large civil projects are more complex than home renovation projects and are thus less likely to be accurately assessed by our simple planning heuristics. (see "the planning fallacy"). Each gap in the actual vs. planned outcome requires change-orders that slow down schedules and cost more money.
So 200 square ft of tile takes three months because the tilers are hired by the tiling company who is hired by the contractor hired to finish the walls who was hired by the main contractor who was hired by the construction company. Along this long chain someone schedules tiling on the same day the electricians are wiring up the lights. They reschedule and crew arrives only to find the materials are missing, no one knows who ordered them or who to talk to. Once they sort that out and get the materials delivered the project is put on hold because someone stubbed their toe on a box of tiles and a stop work order is issued. A safety inspector arrives with the cast of CSI miami to figure out who to blame. Meanwhile, while everyone is busy blaming each other, the tiling contractor steals the materials for another job and everything goes right back to square one. Now multiply this story by the number of individual items to be coordinated... All this while, the crew has to be paid for their time even though they couldn't work. Absolute madness.
As you've described, what is going on is corruption due to lack of oversight.
Take crane operations for instance. An organization may require union crane operators as a means of oversight to help guarantee trained and certified operators for a hazardous operation. However, this often has unintended consequences as union crane operations may also require positions like a crane oiler, which are largely obsolete in modern equipment.
I don't think that constitutes corruption because it's completely transparent and above board, even if unwise.
These problems seem complex and may truly be, but if they lead to payment for nonperformance then that needs to be addressed. I expect the market can figure it out from there.
Even while I have libertarian leanings, I would be hesitant to "expect the market can figure it out" largely because of asymmetries of information and the tendencies of present bias in making decisions, especially those with a profit incentive.
>The failure to think about how hard it is to put stuff together when other people are involved. And so that can make the planning fallacy bigger and badder when there are teams of people trying to finish work on time.