Retirement Houseboat or Floating Home

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Greenseas2, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Is there such a thing as floating communities ??
     
  2. J Feenstra
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    J Feenstra Junior Member

    Yep, Top gear (BBC Show) did a special in Vietnam, beautiful episode btw, but they finished at a floating bar. we have a few floating residential area's but no communities. You can say that the living barge people form kind a community
     
  3. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    The Sausalito houseboat community is unique in that it evolved over time, probably well ahead of city ordinances. Key West also has one probably of similar age, and there are floating homes in Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.

    Today, in the US anyway, most cities and towns have restrictions on marinas and houseboats that it becomes very difficult to build houseboats or to allow them into a traditional marina. A single individual wanting a houseboat is going to have great difficulty in finding a place to put it, and that is only after finding someone to build it. A tall houseboat is going to need to be a wide houseboat, particularly here in the hurricane alley of Florida. And a wide houseboat is difficult and costly to transport because it cannot go over highways. Waterways are open along coasts, rivers and lakes, but hauling by barge or tugboats is very expensive. Plus, not everyone wants to live near to where houseboats are built--they have their own refuges or special places where they would like to live. This was the whole reason for my concept of the Modular Catamaran Houseboat that I posted earlier on this thread.

    Yet, the very idea of living on a houseboat has tremendous appeal and interest, if only we could find a place to put them. This is why it is going to take someone with a lot of money--a savvy developer--to build a houseboat community from scratch, away from the tentacles of city ordinances, somewhere where he/she and their houseboat residents can make their own rules, and build and service the houseboats in a convenient way. On top of that, technologies are so far advanced these days that you can live "off the grid". You can generate your own electricity, make and collect your own water, and dispose of your black water cleanly and completely independently of city systems.

    A few such places exist--British Columbia has a number of them--but here in the US, the market is wide open for the enterprising yet realistic developer. I am continually approached by owners and would-be marina builders about building houseboats. But so far, most owners have the money for one houseboat, but not a marina full, and most developers want to build really cheap but charge an arm and a leg. Houseboats are not necessarily cheaper than regular houses, on a cost per square-foot basis--a houseboat has to do everything a regular house has to do, and then some--it has to float at least, and if it is a bona fide boat, it has to have an expensive engine and all that goes with being a navigable vessel.

    The houseboat dreams are out there, but the necessary pieces and people have not been put together yet for the right development. It's still waiting to be done.

    Eric
     
  4. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    Im sure its possible. I guess the developer could make a profit by selling or leasing the berths. Might also be some profit to be made by selling utilities and car park spaces.

    My impression of most of the Western World is that free, sheltered waterfront is off limits. You would need friends in high places to secure whatever permit or zoning.

    Locally fist fights break out when someone requests permission to lay a mooring
     
  5. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    All too true. Yes, the developer would build and sell the houseboats, and then make money on rents or leases for the space--exactly the way a condominium works. And the smart developer will also allow B&Bs to operate there--imagine staying in a nice B&B for a weekend or so.

    Eric
     
  6. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    There would be a sense of adventure. Normal folks may never in their life sleep " on the water " then watch fish jumping as they read the paper and have their morning coffee.

    Im surpised it hasnt been done. Perhaps there are other considerations. Certainly in the US legal concerns and lawsuites must be a issue.

    In the US...who owns the water ? The state ?
     
  7. Eric Sponberg
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    Eric Sponberg Senior Member

    In the US, in most cases, the government authorities own the water. Here in Florida, we have five cities that own their own harbors, St. Augustine being one of them. These were grandfathered in when Florida became a territory (1821) or a state (1845). Otherwise, harbors are federal property, out to the offshore limit, which is either 3 miles or 12 miles (I can't remember which).

    All navigable rivers are under the control of the US Army Corps of Engineers, so I guess that makes them federal property. Smaller rivers and lakes are state property I would guess.

    Shorelines of rivers, lakes, and oceans can be privately owned, and there still may be local ordinances to comply with, depening how urban the area is. I would imagine the further away from city centers you are, the less control there is, and so the more freedom one would have to develop a houseboat marina. Each development would have to be cleared on a case by case basis, I'm sure.

    Eric
     
  8. 805gregg
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    805gregg Junior Member

    There is a huge houseboat community on Lake Union in Seattle, and on a lake in BC
     
  9. IslandGirl941
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    IslandGirl941 New Member

    More great info. It seems that most communities are grandfathered in, and they are diminishing. British Columbia is appealing. I spent time there, and on Lake Union as well as a houseboat in Amsterdam. I love being right on the water & wish it could be more practical.

    I saw something about a guy that made his own island out of trash down in Mexico... it's technically a floating home!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvn9l1pJ3-A
     
  10. El_Guero

    El_Guero Previous Member

    Exactly. This is what I thought as I read this: "Who would buy a houseboat without power to move?"
     
  11. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

    Just reviewing some of this tread and noticed this problem with the link for some folks?

    Here are a few of those photos.
    Northern_Thai_lake_8.jpg

    Northern_Thai_lake_12.jpg

    Northern_Thai_lake_10_sized.jpg

    Wonder about lakes or ponds on private property....pond-side with floating garden
     

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  12. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    I lived in the Florida Keys for ten years. The little islands in the Florida Bay are nearly all off-limits to landing or tying to- but a few aren't. I discovered the difference is usually that the ones you can land on are spoils piles created from dredging The ICW. They are pretty much indistinguishable from the regular islands now. I proposed using one of these as a home base for a floating community. There already was a thriving live-aboard community. Dozens of seasonal waiters and whatnot living on 20 footers that aren't titled or registered anywhere. I wanted to bring in a barge as a commons area and shower house, waste station, and utilities supplier (including HVAC) and let these guys tie up to the barge. Nominal fee and solve a number of real and imagined problems that these folks were accused or suspected of. You'd need an old converted houseboat and a few pilings to get started. If you can sell it as an improvement over the current setup, There are real chances. There was a BIG noise at the time about affordable housing initiatives in the Keys. Unfortunately, nobody would build a cottage for under 400K. And young teachers and firemen and cops couldn't swing that. I figured it at something like 30K a household plus it generated revenue. It would cost nearly nothing to run off season.
     
  13. michael pierzga
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    michael pierzga Senior Member

    The problem is that you are building a "marina". Already waterfronts of the world are overrun with marinas.
     
  14. myark
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    myark Senior Member

    Myark amphibious folding trailer barges avoid rules also can go any lake, river or coast line and when finished can be stored at a safe location.
     

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  15. brian eiland
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    brian eiland Senior Member

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