Houseboat design

Discussion in 'Multihulls' started by tskl, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. tskl
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    tskl Junior Member

    I am a retired architect and my wife and I are going to buy a houseboat as a retirement presant for our selves, But I was thinking of designing one myself and am wondering about design practices. I would like the boat to be about an 18'x44' trihull with a single stateroom and bath. Am I crazy for tring to build one myself or is this a viable idea. any thoughts would be helpfull.
    Thank You
     
  2. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    TSKL,

    There are houseboats (which have propulsion power installed) and there are floating homes (which do not have propulsion power). Obviously, a houseboat is more complicated because of the installed power, so you would have to aware of the principles of speed, power, propellers, etc. if designing such a vessel. With both types of vessels, you also have to be aware of stability issues--the USCG rules may impact the design of houseboats, and local state regulations would govern the design and construction of floating homes. Both types of vessels come under the principles of naval architecture.

    USCG regulations are under Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 173-183 (Boating Safety). Most of these apply to small power boats, but there might be something applicable to houseboats. Don't forget to apply the standards of navigation lighting.

    The American Boat and Yacht Council also publishes standards for the construction of boats, and you can access their website at www.abycinc.org.

    Finally, the best local standards that I have found for the construction and stability of floating homes are those of Marin County, California (incorporating Sausalito where there is a large floating home community).

    You may want to have a look at my website and the floating homes I have designed for Flagler Floating Homes here in Florida. The link to my website is http://www.sponbergyachtdesign.com/FlaglerFloatingHomes.htm.

    I hope that helps.

    Eric
     
  3. tskl
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    tskl Junior Member

    Sir- Thank You fore your responce and your thoughts on the subject. Can I assume that the "American Boat & Yacht Council" are the required building codes administration? I have looked and bookmarked your site for futher reference. I am still thinking of doing this but as a former Architect, I still know I have alot to learn prior to even starting such a project, but can I use any of my current knowledge of architecture or should I basically just start over again, also I should say this would be a (Mississippi & Missouri) river boat and it would require propulsion.
     
  4. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    TSKL,

    Yes, the ABYC administers the standards and they are voluntary, although there is movement to make them mandatory. There is also a great deal of coordination to eventually to get them to match most ISO standards.

    For a houseboat with propulsion, you cannot really use household or land-based construction standards and materials. You will need to become familiar with marine grade materials such as steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and/or wood-epoxy,. depending on how you want to build the vessel. In vessel design, the exterior skin is the primary structural element, which is stiffened by internal framing, so you have to be aware of and be able to do the engineering involved to size the structure with the materials at hand. In short, I think you would have to start over again.

    Eric
     
  5. tskl
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    tskl Junior Member

    Eric

    Thank You for your reply and maybe I should just design for fun and buy a ready made houseboat. But i will still try to learn as much as i can and maybe in 10 years i will be knowledgeable enough to take an exam to actually learn the trade
     
  6. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    If this boat would have an inboard gasoline engine then the USCG regulations for fuel systems, electrical systems and ventilation would apply as well as Marine Sanitation Devices (toilets and holding tanks) and the Navigation Lights. Also there are labeling requirements. See http://www.uscgboating.org/safety/boatbuilder/index.htm

    ABYC are volutuntary industry standards and far more inclusive than the USCG regulations. If you decided to go with a diesel engine instead of gas (wise choice) then ABYC Diesel Fuel systems, electrical, ventilation and so on would apply. Their standards have become the defacto standards in the US just as SAE is the standard for Autos and trucks.

    However before you do anyhting I suggest you go to the Houseboat Expo in Louisville KY, March 3-5. http://www.nationalhouseboatexpo.com/ Houseboat Expo is the largest houseboat show in the country and all the major builders are there. They also have seminars for first time houseboaters. There you will get a much better idea of what is available and what you want to do.

    You might want to look at the following web sites

    Houseboating World http://www.houseboatingworld.com/default.htm
    Houseboat Magazine http://www.houseboatmagazine.com/

    Both have online forums like this one with people from the houseboat industry that have been at it for many years.
     
  7. tskl
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    tskl Junior Member

    Peter Eikenberry

    Thank You for the info and the reference sites, One of the reasons I have thought of designing a boat myself is My wife is 5'11" tall and I'm 6'9" and we both fell very clostaphobic (sp) in all the boats we have been in so far. Therefore I thought I could apply my knowledge of Design in helping to build a new boat, we both hate the idea of buying new when I can't even stand up straight in it. We would have to basically rebuild the craft just to feel comfortable in it. I subscribe to Houseboat Magazine and have bookmarked and use Houseboating World for a while now. Thanks for the references.
     
  8. alidesigner
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    alidesigner Senior Member

  9. ron17571
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    ron17571 Junior Member

    Brought back memorys of some canadian company building floating homes,i often wondered about how to handle the gray water and sewage,gets kinda pricey getting tanks pumped out.i guess they were more like cottages,also reminds me of a movie with Sophia Loren,va voom,had a large houseboat as a big part of the movie.
     
  10. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    On the floating homes that I have designed, there is a gray water tank that sits slightly higher than the black water tank, and the gray water drains to the black water. Then the black water is hooked to a vacuum system on the dock. Periodically, you just go out and turn on the vacuum valve, and the vacuum system sucks the tanks dry and dumps it into the city sewer system.

    Eric
     

  11. JohnHeart
    Joined: Jul 2003
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    JohnHeart Junior Member

    I've been designing houseboats for 2 years. You can private message me if you want help.
     
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