The owner of a big scaffolding business operating in Christchurch and Cromwell is disenchanted by the downfall of Stonewood Homes.

Garrit Van T Veen, Southern Lakes Scaffolds managing director, said Stonewood owed his business $138,000 yet he has not heard a word Stonewood or the receivers.

"It's horrible. I feel sorry for the first home buyers but really sorry for the earthquake victims, it's just another blow. A lot of these guys getting homes built by Stonewood have been floating around and not in their own homes for five years," he said.

The money had been owed since December, he said.

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"They were drip-feeding me small amounts all the way through. They said 'hold on, hold on, we're going to be bailed out, there's a refinancing deal coming.' So I said OK, we'll stick with you. They still told me that on Friday afternoon when I spoke to them. And then they still haven't told us otherwise yet."

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The money is owed on 25 to 30 house sites where scaffolding has been erected.

"On Tuesday, we stripped out 16 houses. The scaffolds on other houses have already come down. We've got no scaffolding on any of the Stonewood sites. The guys worked really long hours, from 6.30am in the morning till 9.30pm on Tuesday to get all the scaffolds down," he said.

Word had got around of the problems with Stonewood which prompted him to act.

"We got a tipoff from a builder on Monday night and got the guys in on Tuesday to take all the scaffolding down before the receivers' announcement. We got the gear off the site and get onto other clients' work where we're getting paid," he said.

Southern Lakes Scaffolds had already lost around $30,000 when Edifice Construction was put into liquidation, he said.

An announcement is expected from Stonewood receivers KordaMentha soon.

Only the master franchisor and two sister businesses are affected by the receivership, not the many franchised Stonewood businesses which operate throughout New Zealand.

Phil Twyford, Labour's housing spokesman, said sub-contractors might be the biggest victims of the collapse of one of New Zealand's biggest home construction companies.

"While home owners should be protected by the Master Builders' home warranty that ensures jobs are finished, subbies will probably not be so lucky.

"It is the subbies that could lose their shirts here. Millions of dollars' worth of work is likely to go unpaid, and this could well push some of these operators to the wall," Twyford said.