After a few false starts before deciding the building and construction industry was where he wanted to work, Probuilt founder Vadim Jefremkov hasn’t looked back.
By Lynne Testoni
There is something almost noble about the building industry—creating a structure where one didn’t exist before and building shelter for people to help them make a home for themselves.
That’s how Vadim Jefremkov of Probuilt sees it. “You create something from nothing and it’s just really satisfying,” he says.
Born in Latvia and arriving in Australia at the age of 19, it took Jefremkov a while to figure out that building and construction would be his chosen vocation. He started working in information technology, then business management, but it was a short roofing job working with a friend in construction that really sparked his interest and opened up a new world for him.
Inspired, Jefremkov started as a carpentry apprentice to a builder he describes as an “old-school one-man band”, which he says was valuable because it enabled him to learn everything about building homes, from beginning to completion.
“It was great because I was watching and participating in every aspect of building,” he says. “It was a good starting point for me to get into the game because carpentry is such a big aspect of construction. You can do the formwork, you can do the finished carpentry, you can do the roofing. You just participate in every part of it.”
After working with various builders, including a large company where he branched out into project management, Jefremkov established Probuilt in 2011.
The company specialises in premium custom-built homes, in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and to a lesser extent, the North Shore. Jefremkov says that their customers are usually highly educated professionals with an eye for detail, which can make them demanding, but rewarding, to work for.
“They know what they want,” he says. “And you need to be able to deliver it. From our side there’s no problem because that’s our specialty.”
A member of the Master Builders Association, Probuilt has won a swag of industry awards, including Young Builder of the Year in 2017 and Master Builder of the Year in 2021. Winning the awards has helped to raise the company’s profile and brought a lot of business his way, he says.
Most of their work comes from word of mouth, or through architects, but the awards have reinforced the fact that they produce quality work, he says.
The last couple of years have been a challenging time for the building industry and Jefremkov says that it has made him even more super organised when planning work because of the lack of tradies. He says that his company has continued to produce quality work because he spent years building up a solid team who trust him.
“Tradesmen have tried to catch up all this lost time by working more and organising them has been hard,” he explains. “You need to plan ahead and give them more notice. I used to give them three weeks’ notice, but now they need more like a month or even two months, whether it is for roof carpenters, bricklayers, or concreters—because everyone’s fully booked.”
“I have a good team of tradesmen who have worked with me for a long time, and they know what I’m expecting from them—and I know that I can trust them.”
The other way to maintain quality is to ensure that communication is clear, he says. The Probuilt team works hard to make new builds and renovations stress-free for their clients.
“Once we get the job, we try to make the job very easy for clients, so they don’t have to stress,” says Jefremkov. “We look after everything from start to fi nish. If they want to be involved, they can tell us what they prefer in terms of the finished details. Otherwise, we can organise it on their behalf. We can work with interior designers, or a team of architects and give them the whole package.”
The building industry is always growing, innovating and finding more efficient solutions to construction challenges, and that’s one of the things Jefremkov enjoys about his job.
“I just look forward to more challenges and new projects and try to make improvements each time,” he says. “Every job is not the same and has a different challenge and different approaches. When you work with custom-built homes, every house is unique. We try to learn something on every job, to improve and deliver better quality service to our clients.”