Built for the long haul

Frustrated by low-quality materials used in homes, local property inspector launches a store in Windom

After a decade as a property inspector, Stuart Seorum said he has seen plenty of metro area homes that were not built to last.

The warped vinyl, poor insulation and worn synthetic materials Seorum has encountered have frustrated him to the point of opening his own home supply store, Classic House Supply, at 620 W. 58th St. in the Windom neighborhood.

Seorum's store opened a month ago and stocks heavy-duty European wood windows and doors, wood and stone flooring, wood siding, slate roofing, tankless water heaters, and retro stoves and refrigerators.

European log home design and construction is another part of the business. Most of the products are made to last a century or more with minimal maintenance, Seorum said.

Classic House Supply caters to developers, architects, designers and homebuilders, who Seorum hopes will start using higher-quality products that not only last longer, but save energy and don't harm the environment. Because he goes directly to supply sources for materials, Seorum said he's able to keep his products affordable as well.

I just wondered why all these great builders used inferior products, he said.Then I learned it's all about money.

When Seorum talks about going to the source for products, hes talking literally. Hanging near tile samples in his new store are photos of him selecting stones in India. He has also traveled to quarries in Jordan and Jerusalem.

Seorum doesn't handpick all of his materials, but he works directly with the companies or individuals that produce them.

The Danish and German-style windows and doors Seorum stocks come from European companies and are made from slow-growth Nordic pine harvested in Estonia. Wood for siding and flooring is from Minnesota and Vermont forests, and reclaimed wood from old barns and other structures is also available.

Seorum said the windows and doors are his store's focus, but they only take up about a third of the store space. Stone and siding fill another third and most of the remaining space is dedicated to appliances.

Large, colorful 1950s-styled refrigerators are Classic House Supplys eye candy, Seorum said. A row of the retro fridges lines the storefront.

We really feel the classics have been done, Seorum said. And they're coming back.

Electric stoves that look like they came from the late 1800s sit near the fridges, along with modern-appearing appliances including wood-burning ovens, tankless water heaters and water softeners. Visitors to Classic House Supply can also expect to find a few hand-carved furnishings and a lawn statue or two.

Out back is a fully assembled Scandinavian-style garden home. Seorum, who is of Norwegian decent and married to a native of Norway involved in a log-home construction business, stocks 10-feet-by-10-feet and 12-feet-by-10-feet garden home kits and has already sold several. His company, which can do major home remodeling, also constructs the garden houses.

Lisa Paulson of Golden Valley had one of the houses built in her backyard.

It's supposed to replace a storage shed, Paulson said. But its really so attractive and cute I dont know if Ill be able to being myself to do that.

The little house has become a place to relax and socialize, she said. Shes thinking of adding a deck.

Seorum will keep selling garden houses, but he said he wants Classic House Supply to build on a larger scale as well. His company can design full-size log homes and cabins, he said. He plans to build a model log building at Bush Lake Ski Jump in the near future.

Classic House Supply employs a small construction team that includes an architect, two builders and a finish carpenter.

The carpenter, Mike Cordner, has been in the business for 20 years and has worked on a number of metro area buildings including the Loring Pasta Bar in Dinkytown. Cordner said getting to know Classic House Supply's products will take some time since most are European, but he's already noticed a difference in quality when compared to materials he normally works with.

They're very different than American construction, he said. They're a lot more durable.

That's exactly what Seorum, who still inspects properties for his family business, Seorum's Inspection Service, wants his products to be.

Classic House Supply is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.--5 p.m. For more information, call 861-7432 or check out www.classichousesupply.com.

Jake Weyer can be reached at 436-4367 and jweyer@mnpubs.com