First time houseboat builder looking for advice

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by Pyrolong, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Pyrolong
    Joined: Sep 2012
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    Location: Sussex - England

    Pyrolong New Member

    Hi all,

    I am looking into building myself a houseboat that I will ultimately live on. I am working on the designs and have made contact with one of the local yacht clubs who provide facilities that I can use to build it. I have taken the approach of designing the individual rooms and work on fitting them together as I have a clear idea of the minimum rooms I want to have and some of the sizes.

    I have not built anything like this before, I come from a science background so can work things out quickly when given a little information. My designs have evolved since I first thought about them due to contemplating logistical and safety points.

    The two things I am trying at the moment to work out are 1) water storage, purification and recycling. 2) power generation and consumption.

    I will look to buy a hull premade, I'm not sure what material is best as I will want the boat to be manouverable but sturdy, I was thinking about a GRP hull.

    Any pointers will be great.
     
  2. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Welcome to the forum, Pyrolong.
    GRP sounds good if you can find the right size for your needs.
    Will it be self-propelled or towed?
    Will the rooms be multi-purposed(i.e., salon converts to sleeping room, etc.)?
    Dimensions?
    How many occupants?
    Minimum/maximum compartments needed?
    Tell us a little more.
    Will the club let you stay there? What are the city ordinances regarding houseboat living?
     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Typically you'd develop a SOR and design the craft to address these goals as best as practical, within the budgetary restraints.
     
  4. Pyrolong
    Joined: Sep 2012
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    Pyrolong New Member

    Thanks for the welcome.

    It will be self propelled, possibly using sails as well as an engine.
    The rooms I have been designing are all single purpose but use combined storage and furniture.
    Dimensions I am working on due to room sizes.
    Initial occupant will only be myself however want room for a partner when I get one and space for family to stay.
    Not sure on the compartments needed.
    The club will let me stay while it is in progress, once completed will have to move it, if moored in tidal waters to the best of my knowledge no issues.
    Some of these will be clarified when I have face to face with the yacht club.
     
  5. Pyrolong
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    Pyrolong New Member

    I'm not familiar with the term SOR, I couldn't find anything on a google search either, I take it that it is an abbreviation or initials for a term, the only one that I could think of that fits would be Size Of Rooms.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Forget about sail power and self designing the vessel. Buy a set of plans and make sensible changes to the areas you need to fit your needs. SOR is Statement Of Requirements. I say this because of your seemly gross lack of understanding in the fields necessary. This isn't intended as and insult, as there's a great deal of engineering involved. Hows your higher math skills . . .
     
  7. Pyrolong
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    Pyrolong New Member

    My higher Maths skills are fine as I have a degree in chemical science, just because I do not know a term that is specific to a field. I could put lots of acrynnoms that I would know and understand but others wouldn't. Just pointing out that if you use abbreviations etc. people asking for help probably won't know what they are. Also very difficult when google doesn't identify that term when searched. I have designed and built various smaller projects, which is why I am asking for the help on power and water usage and recycling.
     
  8. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Again, not intending to insult you, but we get a lot of folks wanting to design a boat. There's a current thread by a fellow that wants a combination submarine, sailboat and powerboat . . . what could go wrong there . . .

    What are the goals of this houseboat? These types of craft generally aren't intended to move very far, very quickly (if at all) and by their nature make quite poor vessels, unless very well thought out. I have a line of riverboats that do preform well in protected waters, even with this, they are subject to the limitations of the type. High windage, huge power requirements, weight and maneuverability issues top the list of traits detracting from their abilities as a boat.

    Shown is one of my smaller riverboat designs (28'). It's designed to motor, reasonably efficiently, but still suffers from the typical burdens of a floating condo. A houseboat, especially if on pontoons, has a much higher CG and windage factor, further restricting it's abilities.
     

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  9. hoytedow
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    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    That is a beautiful boat.
     
  10. pauloman
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: New Hampshire

    pauloman Epoxy Vendor

    being in the epoxy business, I get lots of emails etc. from folks with sinking, leaking floating homes and boats. Usually from rusty steel hulls or rotting wood. My suggestion would be find a a solid fiberglass hull and design around that. With a floating home, just about any problem is minor, except sinking!

    paul
     
  11. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Well broken thru hull hoses, leaking stuffing boxes, colon cancer, etc.
     
  12. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    Pyrolong in your neck of the woods it would not be wise to build. There are THOUSANDS of boats for sale at bargain prices. Many of them will suffice 90% of your requirements.
    Your own design / build will never be a 100% anyway. Building is expensive.
    Building is a daunting task, never ever underestimate the countless hours / days / months that go into it.
    The only time when it is necessary to build is if your are stuck in some farflung corner of the world where used / secondhand boats are not available.
    I have been at my tiny box now for 3 years and 1000 hours.
    It is nowhere near finished but at least I can get some enjoyment out of it now.
    I am blessed with allround good health, which believe me you need tons of.
     
  13. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Manie has a point about build times. Most sit down at the beginning of a project and figure, "well the design says it'll take 1,000 hours to complete" then they calculate how much per day they can supply and lets say it's 4 hours per day after work and 20 hours per weekend.

    In reality, the 4 hours per day turns into 2 hours per day and many of these are none productive, because of setup, tear down and running extension cords, etc. The two 10 hours days per weekend, actually become one 10 hour day, if you're lucky and have some semblance of a life and maybe 6 of these are actual "production" hours.

    So, given the allotted 30 hours per week, that's 34 weeks, which sounds pretty reasonable, when reading the plans package at the kitchen table and calculating how much time you can put into it. Once reality and life kick in, the actual production time is 10 to 12 hours a week, which works out to be 84 to 100 weeks and a more reasonable representation of the time involved.

    I've found the average back yard builder can produce about 350 to 400 hours of actual building production time in a year, given a full time job and a real life. At 350 hours, this translates into about 6.7 actual production hours a week, assuming no time off. At 400 hours about 7.6 hours per week, and this is "humping" for most folks.

    Why? Well, you suck. No really, you actually suck at this boat building stuff, making mistakes, lacking organization, looking around for tools (assuming you have them and aren't driving to the store to get one), not having enough clamps, a nagging wife, time dependent kids and a dog that keeps chewing through all your power tool cords. I'm not trying to discourage prospective builders, but a good rule to go by when looking at the time estimates, sometimes offered in plans is to just double it, then half your estimates of the time you think you can provide. This is the stark reality of long term, less then instant gratification, type of project.
     
  14. Manie B
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    Manie B Senior Member

    Good post PAR
    what had to be added to the times are the ENDLESS trips to the store
    never mind the costs thereof
    beter have lots of time to slip away during the day
     

  15. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    That's what indentured servants (wives and/or kids) are for . . .
     
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