The Capitol was completed in 1874 with the cost of the construction totalling $2.5 million. The original budget provided in 1860 was $100,000. Incidently, its completion also came at a high cost for one of its principal architects. In 1864 Ruben Clark was committed to a Stockton mental institution where he died in 1866. According to the hospital's files, the cause of insanity was diagnosed as "continued and close attention to the building of the State Capitol in Sacramento." Gordon P. Cummings took over as the supervising architect and completed the project.
The lack of a continuous and adequate funding source for the construction of the Capitol frequently hindered progress. Funds were provided by the Legislature that met for two months every other year. Building progressed until funds ran out, then stopped until the next legislative session.
In his annual address to the Legislature on January 9, 1860, Governor John B. Weller addressed the funding issue by saying, "It is believed that $100,000 will put up a wing sufficiently commodious to accommodate the Legislature and state officers." From this original estimate, the price tag eventually grew to $2.5 million.
Beginning in December of 1861 and continuing into January, heavy rains and flooding from breaks in a levee of the American River created problems for the Capitol building project.
On January 6, 1862, the Legislature convened in the midst of this deluge. Four days later the fourth in a series of floods hit. On January 11 the Senate passed a resolution to adjourn to San Francisco for the remainder of the session.
The Assembly did not concur and passed a resolution authorizing the Sergeant at Arms to hire boats to convey legislators to and from the Capitol, which was then located in the Sacramento County Court House at 7th and I Streets. These proposals rekindled discussion about moving the capital to another location.
Ultimately the rising water was too much for the legislators. They briefly adjourned and completed the session in San Francisco.
Work on the Capitol began again in August 1862. Construction crews hauled wheelbarrows of dirt to raise the building's ground line by six feet to protect against future flooding problems.
While flooding disrupted the construction schedule, the Board of the State Capitol Commissioners, the group in charge of the construction, faced even more problems.
The original builder, Michael Fennell, who began work in 1860, was relieved of his duties when work did not progress on schedule. In August 1861, G.W. Blake and P. Edward Conner received the contract.
They immediately faced difficulties obtaining the cement and granite needed to continue the work. Then the 1861-62 floods brought work to a halt. One foot of water surrounded the building's walls and construction materials were destroyed. The builders requested an extension to their contract, but the Board denied it.
From that point onward, work on the Capitol was completed on a "day's labor" system. Supervising Architect Reuben Clark sought to avoid delays and political controversies by acquiring materials by contract and hiring all mechanics and laborers by the day.
While this construction method did not fully end the delays and controversies, it remained in effect until the Capitol was completed in 1874.
Well into the construction of the Capitol, political opposition by legislators, who wanted the permanent seat of the capital moved to another city, continued.
Even after Sacramento became the permanent seat of California's government in 1854, there were several unsuccessful efforts to relocate the capital to Oakland (1858-59), San Jose (1875-78, 1893, and 1903), Berkeley (1907), and Monterey (1933-41).