Construction insiders say the risk contractors are taking in building projects are behind the collapse of a number of firms - and government departments have a hand in it.
Ebert Construction Ltd has been put into receivership this week and Christchurch company Maven Interior went into liquidation yesterday.
Initial indications suggest Ebert could owe as much as $40 million.
Accounting firm BDO partner James MacQueen said increasingly jobs were "design and build", meaning specifications were given and a construction company worked out how it would design and build it at a fixed price.
These projects carried a higher risk and the government was one of the main culprits, he said.
"It's all about the transfer of risk, and particularly some of the government departments, they're trying to get the risk off their books."
Mr MacQueen said the Ministry of Education was an example.
Independent dispute resolution consultant Peter Degerholm said he was asked to look at a contract from the Ministry of Education in June which had tied a contractor into carrying the cost of the ministry's project for almost three months.
"In an industry that is known to be cash-strapped I was horrified that that's the sorts of contracts that the government is putting out."
Mr Degerholm said the government was providing a bad example.
He said contracts went out with scant design detail but with a fixed cost. "In many cases the real cost of construction is not known until the final detail is available".
Construction lawyer Marcus Beveridge said the situation reflected the thin margin building companies worked on, which may have caught out Ebert.
"It's different building factories for Fonterra in the regions than dealing with the pretty slick and fast rules of construction in downtown Auckland."
On a lot of projects the head contractor was more of a project manager and virtually all the work was done by sub-contractors such as electricians, plumbers, roofers, tilers and painters.
One of the most worrying things when a contractor went under was how it affected subcontractors, Mr Beveridge said.
"It means a lot of subcontractors are not going to get paid and it results in a bit of a domino effect where those sub-contractors end up going into liquidation or receivership."
Mr MacQueen said the folding of Ebert was likely to take out a few subcontractors, which would in turn have a flow through to other companies.