How do I get started building a houseboat?

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by SomewhereInND, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    Location: Milwaukee, WI

    gonzo Senior Member

    Water tanks are replaced when they are corrode and leak. Seems like a poor choice. If you also have to farm out some of the labor, it will be more expensive than a plywood boat. I have built many boats out of exterior grade plywood. If you go through the pile and choose the better ones they are always some usable ones. Use polyester resin and mat for the seams and buttblock them. Even left outside it will last 4-5 years.
  2. joefaber
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    Location: san francisco

    joefaber Junior Member

    a good primer on houseboats is "Handmade Houseboats: Independent Living Afloat" by Russell Conder. it's 240 Pages cover the basics of houseboat history and design.
  3. VanDamage007
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Michigan

    VanDamage007 Junior Member

    I know its a old thread but Im bored.

    HA:!: :!: Good luck with the combobbled water heater idea... :D Remember the FIRST rule of boating, IT MUST FLOAT<:idea: <:idea: < VERY IMPORTANT!!! You talking of some rigged up light sheet crap metal barley fit for scrap, as being your source of floatation for you, your family and friends, and the hard earned dollar and time wasted..... :rolleyes: Go get a dang pontoon boat and pitch a tent on it! :p Leave building houseboats to the pros! :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p :p
  4. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    while I wouldnt go so far as the previous I am also planning a build for a live aboard, although mines going to be along the lines of the old style commuter yachts. What I would strongly recommend is hangin out and reading up on a lot of different threads here. You will get to know some of the designers and what they specialize in. Also you will gain an appreciation for the difficulties involved. I have been building custom structures for years in my neck of the woods, and grew up on the water, even so, I plan on getting a naval architect to assist me and check everything Im planning, a second and informed opinion is invaluable in a one off custom.

    Find someone you trust, get self educated as to what you basically want and go in with a succinct but flexible plan. Lots of folks live on houseboats and so can you, just that if your designing your own and its your first, your going to be making lots of mistakes and you need someone to be watching out for you. My theory is dont cheep out on the guy watching your back, you can build it yourself out of all kinds of funky stuff but get an NA to watch out for you or one of those mistakes may cost you or your family more than you can afford to loose.

    best of luck with the build
    and have a great time


    Im still looking for just the right under body to stick under this old slow elco design and am always up for ideas
    the speed target range is cruise on under ~50 hp at ~10 knots and be capable of 15~20 knots with 250 hp
    semi displacement shallow v hull capable of transoceanic cruising and able to handle rough water in a pinch
    maybe bilge keels or a roll dampening tank and must look like the old elco above the line

    ( not interested in hijacking a perfectly good thread so send replies via private messages )
  5. VanDamage007
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Michigan

    VanDamage007 Junior Member

    Oh Im working on one. Im starting with a 24' Pontoon boat. I have it planned what I need to do. Its no biggie. Now building that Yacht, whos actully "building" it? Sounds like your having one built. Thats a hell of a project. Good luck!
  6. VanDamage007
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Michigan

    VanDamage007 Junior Member

    Whos job is gonna be rounding up two of every animal to put aboard? HAHA :D
  7. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    that was kinda funny
    Ill be building it myself as having been involved in construction my whole life I can assure you if you want something done right you really do need to do it yourself.
    Am working up the funds now and should be starting in the next year or two depends on what the economy does.

    only animal on board will be the girl
    Ill round her up as needed

    Im developing the modifications that will make it seaworthy and will be presenting them to a NA eventually once I have a grip on what my options are and how they interact with the rest of the boat. The Na will either laugh his *** off at me or tell me its doable ( so far I have several likely candidates all claiming its possible to get a semi displacement hull that should perform adequately ) so Im just working out details now and once I get then nailed down I can move on from there

    Im here to tell you 24'x8' is not much space
    **** my bedroom is 13 x 24 "not" including the closet
    Ild loose my mind if I had to jam everything in the house into one room
  8. VanDamage007
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Michigan

    VanDamage007 Junior Member

    Well good luck, that would take one man a lifetime to design and build a quality boat like that, and about 250,000 - 500,000 or more depending on what materials are used and such. Probally more... Its cool tho, good luck! With a boat like that you could round up a few girls as needed!

    Is the NA like the boat builders code inspectors or something?

    24' by 8' is as big as a camper. I think its perfect for a weekend or week trip. Its not like Im gonna live on this thing, just party and camp here and there. I plan on taking my projector and Xbox and playing on a 6' screen in the middle of the lake!!! Im pretty excited about it anyway... Also wanna use my cell phone as a modem for Xbox live. Ive heard of people using there cells for XB live.

    Other than that Im loading up a futon, a folding table and chairs, a cooler, a grill, a mini fridge, speakers and a radio, a captians chair, and chicks.

    Damn Im getting excited! I hope to be on the water by June 10th and house part built by July 4th so I can go out and watch fireworks on the lake.
  9. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    my time frame from start is one year
    its steam powered on pellets

    thought you might like that one
  10. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I guess I missed this thread. Man you call that a 30' houseboat (first post)? I call that about as ugly as they come.

    Now this is a houseboat, that runs on an outboard and can actually navigate rivers and small bays too.

    Attached Files:

  11. cheddar
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: Gulf Coast

    cheddar Junior Member

    Poly Pontoons

    I am currently looking for house boat plans too. I plan to use Poly Ponttons as there is a supplier close to me. Very straight forward construction and lighter than steel. I am in the gulf coast and no worry about corrosion as do for steel and alum. I have found three suppliers and it seems to be around 6000.00 to 9500.00 to rig up enough pontoons and alum framing to make a 30 foot craft. They also will tell you how much they will float to get 50% percent submurged. here is one of the sites.

    I have two more if your intersted. I have worked with steel hull boats alot and found it to be alot of maintainence. Maybe someone has a persepective that will help both of us with using the right hull or pontoon design to suit your needs.
  12. rasorinc
    Joined: Nov 2007
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    Location: OREGON

    rasorinc Senior Member

  13. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Those old Whit designs are little more then floating Winnebagos. I can think of little more unattractive.

    Having the hulls and frames is one thing, but what about the rest of the structure. The pontoons and their support framing will account for about 12% of the total build effort required on a vessel as you've described.
  14. Knut Sand
    Joined: Apr 2003
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    Location: Kristiansand, Norway

    Knut Sand Senior Member

    That's a nice looking piece.... I kinda like some of your designs, and Tad's and ... also your approach seem rather sensible.

    An outboard, easy to get to the repair shop, "easy" motor installation, repair, replacement, spare engines (if the "worst" should happen) are available used/ new. A "Bigfoot" for better thrust for designs in deplacement speeds...

    Good internal volume, space.... Maybe a small change in the windows, a sliding door in front (can have steering grooves for the right upper corner of the door, in the outer front roof, so the 3 front windows can still have their angles).... Nice look on that one, a houseboat that look like a boat. :D

    A small question to PAR; The aft railing; This should stop at the rear of the main cabin? There's no space for it on the cabin side or am I reading the drawing wrong?

  15. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Location: On board Corroboree

    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Another houseboat example

    In the houseboat designs that I have done with my Florida client, we considered only barges and not pontoons for the base of the house for a few very good reasons:

    1. Better distribution of displacement and flotation.
    2. Better stability.
    3. You get a basement within the barge to put stuff, like a hot water heater, tanks, and misc. plumbing and wiring.

    Here is a link to the complete story:

    We started with a totally rectangular barge made out of plywood and fiberglass. Eventually, my client's desire was to build a fiberglass hull and add power to turn them into bona fide houseboats, as opposed to "floating homes." This is a legal advantage because houseboats fall under federal boating act laws, whereas houseboats don't because but they get encumbered by local ordinance rules. This can be a real problem if the local community doesn't like houseboats in their area. Floating homes can get outlawed really quickly and easily.

    Here are some Rhino images of the fiberglass hull. The plans for this hull are proprietary to my client so they are not for sale. But if anyone would like to talk with me about houseboat designs, you may contact me privately.


    Attached Files:

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