Do you want to build your own houseboat?
Are you like me? Are you wondering if you can build your own little houseboat. Well, it turns out we’re not alone. From Key West, Florida to Kodiak, Alaska and even down under in Murray, Australia the idea of building a floating house is growing in popularity. Some folks don’t even have formal houseboat plans.
Building a simple barge type hull with a shantyboat cabin is probably not too hard for most of us. But I think getting some good houseboat plans would probably help most of us. After all, we do want it to float.
Houseboat building would be a lot less stressful if only the wives were onboard with the project. They don’t usually like the noise and the mess and the sawdust and the lack of attention and ….oh well, you get the idea. But now, one smart Canadian has found the solution! And he sells plans also.
Roy Schreyer has designed and built this small houseboat as the answer to all the complaints. You know, the boat is too small, too uncomfortable, it rocks, it goes too fast, its not good looking enough, it’s too expensive to build, it’s too expensive to run. His answer is one great looking small houseboat. And to make sure his wife loved it … he named it after her!
Some of these floating houses would also be a good way to stretch retirement finances when you really can’t afford that “second home.”
Of course, some folks just want to search “houseboats for sale” and buy a houseboat already built. That’s OK, but think of the pride you’ll have cruising along in a beautiful little houseboat you built with your own hands! Your own floating house!
So if you’re going to build a boat, why not think about building a houseboat! And building a little tiny home that floats isn’t really as crazy as it might sound…or that hard either.
But it does take patience and dedication . . . and often, some good friends.
With modern plywood, fasteners and epoxy finishes a nice small houseboat can be built and enjoyed for decades.
Chris Carr’s Darwin , is one really great example of houseboat building and great boat design. Small houseboats can be buildable, liveable and some are even trailerable
“Too hard” you say? It’s a good thing Rob Reiheld didn’t think that way when he set out to build a houseboat. He didn’t think it too impossible. In fact didn’t even have any houseboat plans, just a dream. But when this modern-day Noah dreamed of building a houseboat he went large!
The result is a beautiful houseboat construction that quickly becomes the envy of all who see it. Built on sections of treated plywood pontoons,this floating house can easily be cruised along the Albermarle sound for day trips or lived on full-time.
The way he built the pontoons in sections and then bolted them together is a unique way of houseboat building and definitely worth some extra study and consideration.
Along the way, he managed to get the whole family involved. Learn all about his building adventure. See the fun and the challenges, as well as some serious setbacks he encountered building this great houseboat. The pictures alone are worth a visit to RobReiheld’s site
Personally, I’m dreaming about building a small houseboat, sort of like a “Tiny Homes Design” and then just putting it on pontoons or a barge hull. Of course, this would be strictly for protected-water use. We won’t be barging over to the Bahamas.
The great thing is, there are lots of varied plans and designs…different designs for different uses. Some houseboats are just big floating barges that stay anchored in a marina and hook up to the shore for all the conveniences of a regular home. But that’s no fun !. . .
A little house boat is what I’m talking about. Building a little houseboat that you can motor about in and still enjoy some of the comforts of home. And when building a houseboat there are dozens of plans to choose from.
Tiny Homes or Floating Houses
One of the nicest homemade houseboat plans on the net is the Aqua Casa. I even found one once under houseboats for sale. If you want to see How the Aqua Casa houseboat construction proceeds visit Dansboathouse.blogspot.com and you can follow along and learn some of the lessons he’s learned the hard way.
Honestly, I would much rather build a houseboat. The construction of your own houseboat would do much to satisfy all the primal houseboat building urges that reside in the heart of man.
I’m sure the first thing our primitive ancestors thought when they say some bird standing on a floating log was “how many logs would I have to tie together to be able to stand like that?” The beginning of boating. So he makes a great big raft out of logs and ties them together with “coconut fiber rope” and floats across the river. It would soon occur to him that, if he slept out on the raft, the wolves couldn’t get him. Then after getting rained on, he builds a little roof on the raft. And the shantyboat is born! For more on Shantboat building check out LittleShantyboat.Blogspot.com
But as much fun as it would be to build a little houseboat, it could be expensive. I’ve figured out the cost of a small houseboat several ways and it always comes out to at least $15,000. Others have the same experience.
Build your own houseboat
When Chris Carr was faced with the question, “build or buy” he built. And did he do a great job or what! The Darwin, is one of the coolest looking little houseboats around, and he figures it cost him about $12,000 to $15,000 to build it.
Houseboat building prices
Bryan Lowe at Shantyboat living.com reported that one homemade houseboat builder spent $75,000 on a small shantyboat / houseboat. I almost fell over when I saw that. Most of the time the houseboat builds I’ve seen cost between $12,000 and $20,000. But . . . here’s something to consider.
You can find a nice used sailboat for much less than that and it would already be built! True, its not a “houseboat” or even a tiny home but it’s a live aboard boat that does pretty much the same thing. Also, it would be much easier to push along at hull speed and way more acceptable in most marinas. This is a lot to consider. Even if you never put the sails up. (or even had sails)
I looked on Craigslist and quickly found a 27’ 1989 Catalina for $9,500 and that included a 2 year old Tohatsu 9.9 kicker. Even if I never hoisted the mainsail I could slide along the waterways for about ½ gallon an hour. All this without building anything!
On Lake Norris in Tennessee it will cost between $250 and $450 a month and there is a waiting list everywhere. This doesn’t include electricity or pump-outs. You can get a yearly pump-out contract for about $400 to $500 and the dock usually supplies the water.
At the Gangplank Marina in Washington,DC it will cost you about $12 bucks a month per foot on a yearly basis, plus electricity. Liveaboards will be charged an additional $150 a month for pump-out and use fees. So, a 32’ boat will cost about $535. Not bad for a view of the Washington Monument. (2013 prices)
This is a sample of some of the costs at marinas and docks. It doesn’t include the cost of insurance. Just like a home, a boat should have insurance. This insurance can run $1,500 bucks a year for small size boat. Some insurance companies offer boat insurance as part of a larger package, so check with your homeowner’s insurance company first.
This is a cost that will have to be added into your monthly costs. While it is true that boat insurance is not required, most marinas will require it. They don’t want you puttering in and around their million dollar yachts without the insurance to pay for the damage. If you lose control in docking or in a high wind you might need the insurance to build a houseboat for someone else!
Most boat owners who live full-time will tell you that they don’t do it to save money, they do it because they love boats and the lifestyle. For more on houseboat insurance read Insurance If you are still reading at this point I think you too are dreaming about building a houseboat.
If you’re planning to build a houseboat one of the most important things to consider is houseboat insurance. The availability of houseboat insurance will, in most cases, determine what you can do with your new houseboat.
Boats occasionally sink. Even if you are only going to leave your houseboat in a slip at a marina you will need insurance on it. In some cases, lots of insurance. Bodily injury, renters reimbursement, property damage, medical insurance and, if you’re going to take your houseboat for a spin, emergency towing insurance will all have to be considered. Imagine the clean-up costs you might incur if you have an oil spill or a sewage leak. Personal liability insurance is a given.
Oh, I know it might only have cost you 10 or 20 thousand dollars to build your little floating house, but imagine your floating home crashing into you neighbors $400,000 floating palace. You would probably be responsible and should have houseboat insurance to cover the damages to the other boat. A marina must make sure you can cover the damages to the other guy, not to mention the marina or they might have to cover it.
When you look into houseboat insurance on a home built houseboat it seems that it’s not always as easy as calling the little Geico lizard. Many companies don’t want to touch home built houseboats. Many will require an expensive boat survey at a minimum and still only cover certain things. The goal is to find affordable houseboat insurance or the whole idea becomes too expensive. One of the largest companies that provide houseboat insurance is BoatUS, but many folks report that they will require a marine survey and try to force you to use only “their” boat surveyors. There is a great thread on this subject at the Boatdesign.net forum.
Another place to check is Marine Underwriters Agency. They provide marine insurance on all kinds of boats including houseboats as well as mega yachts.
You will also want to think about getting insurance on the houseboat building project. Once you have a bunch of bucks tied up in fancy wood and epoxy you surely don’t want to see it all go up in smoke or be vandalized. Just as you need builders risk insurance on a home building project, you should also have insurance protection on your boat building adventure.
If you’re building this houseboat in your backyard, you should check with your homeowner’s insurance company. It may be covered already while in the construction process. If not, you may be able to add a rider on to your policy to cover it until it’s completed. Always check with your current Insurance company. Often you can get a discount they insure multiple items on the same policy or policies.
It’s important also to keep your terms straight. Remember when dealing with Insurance companies to refer to your boat or houseboat as a “custom built” not a “home built.” Another idea is to consider your project as a “classic” houseboat. “Classics” are also given more consideration than “home built.” A good agency to try for insurance on classics of all description, be it cars or boats, is Hagerty Insurance. They insure nationwide and they also write policies on cars and motorcycles.
RV America Insurance provides insurance products of all types, including “home built” boats. (which we all call “custom boats”)
Home Built Boat
A Home Built houseboat should be a source of enjoyment and pride, not a floating cesspool of frustration and stress, so get your insurance plans lined up before committing to a large “custom” houseboat building project. One couple I read about spent 3 years in North Carolina restoring an old houseboat only to find at the end, they couldn’t get it insured. I hope they have found insurance by now. It would surely drive you nuts, but wait — if your thinking about building your own houseboat — you’re probably on your way already.
Boat Insurance Agency Houseboat Insurance in the Northwest
RQRiley.com help with Licensing and insuring home built vehicles
DiscoverBoating.com help with insuring Home Built craft
If you want to learn more about building a small houseboat visit