It would take 60 stonemasons three years to rebuild the Catholic Cathedral in Christchurch and the wages bill could be up to $40 million.
Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament leaders are still considering whether to restore the quake-damaged building for about $100m or build a new cathedral for about $40m. The earthquakes have badly damaged the cathedral and much of the building has been taken down.
The nave is the only intact part left.
Cathedral leaders met this week to discuss plans for the building, but have deferred a decision to the bishop.
Cathedral quantity surveyor Bryan Graham said restoring the building to its original form would be a "massive task".
"You would have to take it down, do extensive groundwork, including 30-metre piles, and then start rebuilding. I don't think you could ever rebuild it exactly the same way," he said.
Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said the building needed to be considered in the context of the many damaged Catholic buildings in Canterbury. "We need to consult the bishop. We are tied up with the whole diocese and all the other buildings that are damaged. We are looking for a lot of direction from the bishop. The three options are to repair, rebuild or mothball the building," he said. "The engineering reports say it would cost about $100m to rebuild. It is a very hard decision because we haven't got $100m."