A resident of Christchurch's historic Cranmer Courts says he is shocked at how quickly the building is being pulled down.
The 130-year-old heritage building was badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) ordered that it be pulled down in April.
The demolition was halted in September after the 31 residents voted to sell the site to an Australian buyer who had committed to restoring them. Due to regulations and insurance complications, the deal fell through on Friday.
About 45 people turned out for an emotional protest on Thursday as the bulldozers moved in.
Resident David Chambers says he is utterly devastated there just was not enough money or time to save Cranmer Courts and can't believe that the contractors have started work within two days.
"CERA gave us a month off. They took the diggers away for a month on the condition that if the thing fell over after the due diligence had been done that they would come back in. It's surprising how quickly they've come back - it's two days."
Ian Lochhard, the chair of a heritage protection group, also can't understand the rush, saying it could be safely fenced off until money is found to repair the building.
The authority's chief executive, Roger Sutton, says he sympathises with residents but does not have the power to force an owner to spend money to restore a building.
The demolition work is estimated to take about seven weeks.