How do I get started building a houseboat?

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

  1. joefaber
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    joefaber Junior Member

    Eric,

    I'm a bit confused,
    which fall under the Fed law?
    is it the houseboat (motorized)? and floating homes (non-motorized) by local?
    or vice versa?:confused:

    the advantage of multihulls is that they are hard to capsize,
    need less power to propel compared to similar length/beam craft
    and have more the usable deck area than similar length/beam craft.

    also, if three hulls are used,
    the utilities & power plant could be placed in the middle one.

    =====

    i've attached a rough idea for something a DIYer would be able to build
    mostly from off the shelf (HOME DEPOT, Ace Hardware. etal.) items.
    the designs are clunky and would manuever slugishly, but,
    should be able to handle up to about 10 knots on inland waterways.
    any observations/critiques/suggestions are welcome.


    unclejoe@happyhippie.com
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jun 19, 2009
  2. SamSam
    Joined: Feb 2005
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    SamSam Senior Member

    I don't understand what you are saying in the underlined part above.

    For a hull size and shape like you posted, what structural element does the most to keep it from being flexible in the fore and aft 'twist' sense?
     
  3. Boston

    Boston Previous Member

    there is undoubtedly a legal description drawing the pertinent distinctions
    Ild be surprised if those distinctions didnt vary from state to state
    but it sounds like old Eric has put you on to a key consideration

    best
    B
     
  4. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    First, Federal Law. My client is building his houseboats in production. They are bona fide recreational vessels. Therefore, he has to register as a boatbuilder with the US Coast Guard and follow the provisions of the Federal Boating Safety Act and other laws as detailed in Title 46 of the US Code (46 USC) and Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR). His vessels have to comply with the safety and equipment provisions of these Codes. My client also intends to keep his houseboats in his own marina here in Florida.

    If my client built merely "floating homes" and not bona fide vessels, he would not have to comply with 46 USC and 33 CFR for recreational vessels. But he would have to comply with the local ordinances regarding the construction of houses as if they were built on land. Ordinances vary from county to county, from city to city. Sometimes, they can be enforced arbitrarily. If local communities do not want floating homes in their areas, they can enact and enforce ordinances regarding their design and construction that make it very difficult to comply. You have to get your floating home inspected by the local building inspector, and if he does not like what you have, he can NOT issue an occupancy permit.

    However, since these are genuine recreational vessels, local building ordinances do not apply--there are no local ordinances that can supplant federal boatbuilding laws, which do apply. Federal laws, in a case like this, are actually easier to comply with than local ordinances. The houseboats are moored in an approved marina. You could also keep one at your own dock if you have one.

    If a houseboat as a recreational vessel is used for a commercial purpose, it might also have to come under the jurisdiction of Title 46 CFR which governs commercial vessels. Local ordinances may apply regarding the operation of commercial properties. I have not gotten directly involved in that yet, although I have had approaches from people who would like to use a houseboat as a restaurant and as a liquor store.

    I will say that one has to be careful of stability and flotation for houseboats. Federal laws can apply in some cases. Most local communities do not have any provisions regarding floating home stability. And in a hurricane-prone state like Florida, you have to be careful that a floating home does not flip over in a hurricane. The best local ordinance and building standard that I have come across is the one established in Marin County, California, where the town of Sausalito has a vibrant floating home community. I have seen these repeated by and large in Alameda, CA, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, but Marin County's is the most complete, and so I follow these.

    I'd also like to address the comments about pontoon hulls (multihulls). First, hard to capsize: If we take my hull as an example (which I showed in an earlier post), it is 16' wide and 52' long. It has a displacement of 32,820 lbs. Its center of gravity is 0.98' feet above the deck. The hull is 4.67' deep. Its draft is 1.15', giving a freeboard of 3.52'. It's metacenter (KM) is 21.96' above the keel, giving a GM of 16.32'. If we keep everything the same and trade out the hull for a multihull arrangement according to your diagram for the same area (length and beam) with the same house, weight, freeboard, and VCG, and with pontoons that follow your design--3 hulls each 2' wide (we'll make them the same draft for ease of calculation), we end up with the following: Draft is deeper, 1.64' vs. 1.15'. The moment of inertia of the waterplane is less, therefore KM is less, 20.90' vs. 21.96'. Therefore, GM--stability--is less, 14.76' vs. 16.32'. For the same dimensions, therefore, the multihull version is less stable (eaiser to capsize) than the full hull version as I proposed.

    Need less power to propell: Probably, I will grant that, although it would be a very much more involved calculation to determine precise powering requirements.

    More useable deck area: Not so--they are the same: 52' x 16'.

    Utilities and power plant placed in the middle hull: Same is true with my houseboat, all utilities go in the hull. But in my version, you have lots more room to get around the equipment. In the multihull version, you have only 2' of width overall in the central hull, which is not very wide at all. Engine mounts themselves are 22.5" on center, and many engines are wider than 2' overall. It would be really difficult to get good equipment into such narrow spaces.

    Eric
     
  5. joefaber
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    joefaber Junior Member

    Eric,

    Thank you for the clarification.
    I'd forgotten that craft built for sale fall under the USGC/Federal regulations.
    Mine is a DIY perspective and the regs aren't as stringent.

    As to multihulls,
    I should have prefaced that the comparison is with traditionally styled (tapering toward the bow) hulls.
    mea culpa.

    I admit that two feet (22.5" actually) is too snug to place petrol fueled engines.
    Using an electric scheme for propulsion, however, it is more than ample space for the envisioned drive system.
    ----
    With a draft @1.15 feet, shouldn't the displacement of the elegant hull you posted earlier be 25 ton+?
     
  6. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Actually, the displacement calculations come from my detailed weight estimate, weight and center of which were input into the hydrostatics program, and the program balances the hull at the correct draft, heel and trim. The overall width and length of the waterplane are actually a bit narrower and shorter than the overall width and length of hull. Also, the hull has deadrise and round bilges. Draft is measured to the hull centerline, the deepest part. All in all, these factors balance out to 32,820 lbs displacement = 14.65 long tons.

    Eric
     
  7. david@boatsmith
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    david@boatsmith Senior Member

    Hi Boston, Just read your post on boatdesign.net about Elco stlye houseboats. Reuel Parker has several designs of this flavor. He's online at parker marine enterprises. Cheers David www.boatsmithfl.com
     
  8. Il Pescatori
    Joined: Apr 2014
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    Il Pescatori New Member

    retirement home

    New to this site and looking for advise on building a house on a commercial barge (120' x 30' x 9'). Lots of ideas and lots of questions :) any advise is greatly appreciated
     
  9. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Il Pescatori--Welcome to the forum. There are a number of threads regarding design and construction of houseboats on this forum which you may want to browse through, namely:

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/retirement-houseboat-floating-home-23987.html

    and

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/boat-design/floating-homes-communities-36446.html

    and

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/multihulls/houseboat-design-14195.html

    and most recently:

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/bo...endant-living-units-water-possible-50040.html

    and again:

    http://www.boatdesign.net/forums/powerboats/coastal-house-catamaran-ec-cat-c-d-kit-50066.html

    It is difficult to give advice to you unless you can be more specific--what type of barge is it (what is it made of and what has it been used for in the past?), what kind of house do you want to put on it (style of construction, how big?), and where do you want to put it? And how are you going to get it there with the house on it, or are you going to build it in place? All these are the first considerations. Post your questions as you think of them, and perhaps the crew on the forum can answer. If you'll notice, this thread is nearly 5 years old, the last post before yours being back in October 2009. You may want to post on those other threads above to get more active members to answer your questions.

    I hope that helps.

    Eric
     
  10. Il Pescatori
    Joined: Apr 2014
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    Il Pescatori New Member

    Eric,

    The exact barge has not been selected but it seems our preference would be a steel deck barge with a rake forward but not aft. I'd like it to not only function as a houseboat but also as our floating dock much like the vessel built by Vigor Industrial for the King County Marine Division in Washington does.

    If you google: "barge restaurant for sale" there's a 1970 spud barge listed on yachtworld that has also helped to inspire us. We took a look at it several weeks ago and although we could make it work our preference would be to start with a clean deck (slate) to build upon. One of the concerns my wife had about that particular vessel was the narrow side decks (2' wide) and the inward slopping forward and aft decks.

    We're both designers and builders by trade so having an opportunity to design our dream house (boat) is our preference. We figure that a 120' x 30' deck would permit us to have everything we want without compromise. Room for kids and dogs, space for friends and family, and private space to escape when you need to for as we all know the longer you're on a boat with others the smaller the space becomes. Footprint of the structure would be 22' x 80'.

    Our current thinking is to live at anchor which will require that we live completely off the grid. Included in our design is a photovoltaic solar array along with wind generators for charging batteries. There would also be a diesel generator for backup which would also give us the ability to accommodate higher energy demanding activities. Propane would be used for cooking and hot water needs. The more we read and think about things we're pretty sure we'd like to power the vessel. Perhaps two rebuild GM 671N's with a reasonable size diesel tank.

    Based on what we saw with the "restaurant barge" draft would probably be around 1 1/2'- 2' on a vessel that 400 ton capacity depending on what barge we finally select. We're thinking about using pre-used food grade poly water storage containers to meet our water needs. I have a source for 265 gal units which were used only once for syrup at a bargain price of $25 each. Based on the US average for water usage we would like to be able to meet the needs of 6 people for several weeks at a time while also relying on the water tanks as ballast for the structure above. A high volume water maker is on our wish list too.

    I figure at some point in the near future we'll need the assistance of a Naval Architect to run all the calculations for the stability of the vessel but my guess is we're going to need to know more about the barge we plan to use first and the weight and final design of the structure above.

    This structure will be designed for Miami Dade wind loads although we would want to go find a hurricane hole if we needed to do so hence the reason to powering it. I sat through Hurricane Sandy on my sailboat as the eye of the storm passed overhead and was grateful that I had made the right choice of where to hole up. I have a buddy who is a structural engineer who has offered to verify any structural design work for me. Framing would most likely be 2 x 6 Douglas fir with hurricane straps, stainless fasteners, marine plywood, lots of West System epoxy, and two pound closed cell Icynene spray foam insulation, along with impact resistant windows and doors.

    The finishes on the exterior and final appearance are yet to be determined. I'm leaning towards a more traditional Key West bungalow style with Bahama style storm shutters that would provide security and protection from the sun but we also like the idea that it would look like a boat.

    Richard
     

  11. Eric Sponberg
    Joined: Dec 2001
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    Richard,
    That all sounds very doable. If you find a suitable barge to begin with, the designer or builder of that barge may have the necessary information to check hydrostatics and stability. A 120' x 30' barge would certainly hold a two-story house structure on it, and the weight of a house is likely going to be much less than the weight of the cargo the barge would have been designed to carry.

    The technical aspects of such a floating home are not too difficult--all the technology is readily available. The bigger nuts to crack are: 1) Where is the barge going to be when you find a suitable one? 2) How are you going to move it to where it wants to be for building the house on it? 3) How and where will you build the house on it, meaning which dock are you going to tie to if you build on the water, or where will you lift it out if you do the build on dry land? 4) If you build on the water, you have to be careful about where level is--building on p of floating structures is difficult because nothing is necessarily level. 5) If you build on dry land, where will it be hauled out, and once he house is finished, can it be put back in the water easily? 6) And finally, how much is all that going to cost? Transportation costs can be quite expensive, so be sure to figure all that out in your budget.

    Good luck with your endeavor.

    Eric
     
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