I have been house shopping recently, and one property I looked at had really amazing full wall paneling and carved woodwork. Building was constructed about 1850. I was wondering about the feasibility of doing modern construction like this. Can this even be done anymore? Are there still carpenters with this kind of skill? Would the cost today be so prohibitive (in the United States) that it would not really be thinkable, or would it be a feasible in modern construction?

circa 1850 woodwork

One Issue is that the framing of the house has beams making sort of a lattice in the ceiling, which is different than the balloon and joist method of house construction used today. Is it possible to use these old hardwood, beam-based framing methods in new construction, or would it just be so prohibitively expensive that it would be unthinkable?

  • You're misusing the term "balloon framing" here, which is an archaic technique of running wall framing straight through from one story to another and "letting in" the floor framing. Also, you seem to be asking about two different things. Paneling and moldings are surface treatment. Framing with hardwood is another matter altogether. Please edit to clarify which you're asking about. I suspect that the answer involves veneer plywood and mass-milled moldings, though, which is a much simpler and cheaper way to accomplish a similar look. – isherwood Jun 12 '17 at 1:21
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    Indeed, CNC milling makes some of this ridiculously easy. A ShopBot is $10,000 and you don't even need to own one, you can just join your local makerspace. It's now possible to do things even they couldn't do back then. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 12 '17 at 2:18

Yes, it can be , and is done all the time. We use to call this style "craftsman style." All the elements you describe are included in that style: hand made paneling, open beam construction, you say, "lattice type " ceiling (we call coffered ceiling), etc.

Now we use these elements in our designs for upper end projects, (just like they did in the craftsman style, which most people don't realize). When we are trying to do something special, we'll often add wood details. However, this is only economically feasible for the most custom and most expensive construction.

Yes, as others have stated, the cost is too prohibitive for most homes...both labor and material costs. Our housing market has changed.

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  • This house pre-dates the Arts and Crafts movement. It is a renaissance revival house. – Tyler Durden Jun 12 '17 at 3:01
  • If it pre-dates arts and crafts, it's probably Victorian. I don't know what renaissance revival is...can you share a pic of the exterior? – Lee Sam Jun 12 '17 at 3:39
  • It's not Victorian, its renaissance revival. – Tyler Durden Jun 12 '17 at 4:14
  • Greek, french, Italian ? – Lee Sam Jun 12 '17 at 4:37
  • It's sort of part of Victorian - Victorian isn't a specific style, but refers to architecture during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), which includes Neo-Renaissance or Renaissance Revival (1840-1870), among several others. The British and the French tend to refer to architectural eras by monarch, rather than by specific influence. – Chris M. Jun 12 '17 at 21:32

i do it all the time. kinda my side job. on to your question the answer is yes and no. yes i can do it and many others, its not that hard. the problems is that you cant pay for it. im sure your not rich so when you build a house. you would need to get a bank loan. the bank wont pay for this because that trim will cost way more than the house is worth. so unless you have alot of cash you cant do it. to your other question, yes houses these days dont have beams in them it cost to much. so you would build the beams out of 1x what ever there would be no point in building a beam house. a job like that would take 6 mouths to trim. very time consuming

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