What Material to Build a House Float?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by FloatHomeHelp, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. ytquest
    Joined: Oct 2005
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    Location: Hendersonville,Tn.

    ytquest Junior Member

    Tom has a good point about building on land and having a dock. However I have lived aboard my force 50 for 18 of the 22 years I have owned her and do enjoy the movement of being on the water.
    A barge would be perfect for coastal or near coastal property. My property came with small fuel barge(25'x85') that needs re-plating and my son and I thought about a refit for savage and dive work but it only has 5 1/2' head room down below. Maybe later, I have enough projects for now.
     
  2. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Location: Flattop Islands

    Tad Boat Designer

    Your 3' (immersed) deep hull (30' by 40') is only 3600 cubic feet. In fresh water that's around 223,000 pounds of displacement....so not enough, more depth is needed to meet your weight/freeboard estimates.

    Make the roof of steel and really steep so no snow load......

    It is poor efficiency to build huge boxes just to float the living space, live in the hulls.....
     
  3. Luckless
    Joined: Mar 2009
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    Location: PEI, Canada

    Luckless Senior Member

    Also, keep in mind that the big reason no one builds float houses out here is ice. You're not putting one in year round for any salt water, because sooner or later you are going to be crushed by an ice flow.

    Even on lakes we tend to suffer heavy icing, and many lakes get a decent motion going on. Having tonnes of ice driven into a hull like a battering ram does very little good for keeping things afloat.

    You are also going to have to look into regulations with regards to docks, and construction near a wetland or watercourse. These alone can easily sink your project before it gets off the drawing board, so best get those issues sorted out before investing much time or money into drawing up plans.
     
  4. FloatHomeHelp
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Location: Nova Scotia Canada

    FloatHomeHelp Float Home Help?

    Hey Guys,

    Eric got back to me! Awesome recommendation, thank you! He wrote a detailed email which explained pros and cons. In the end his advice leaned toward Marine plywood with wood epoxy and fiberglass.

    Tom, that is one of the questions I've been asking myself since I started thinking about this; Why are there no other floathomes in the area? I think Luckless hit one of the main reasons on the head as there is a lot of ice floating around here in the winter and spring. In addition to this challenge there are a lot of "reasonably" priced waterfront land lots available in the province and there is a very small population. Also in general there is a traditional/conservative attitude in most areas of the province.

    I've not yet found any regulations against building a floating home. Can anyone provide ideas of which government agencies I should contact? Seems like my barge/dock will have to meet Transport Canada's standards and I'll have to not break and zoning laws the area the land is in. Also it looks likely that I will need to keep a fixed land address for legal/practical reasons. What am I not thinking of?

    In response to Luckless' concerns, I would like to pose that as a question to you guys. My hope is to either be about 1km or more in a saltwater inlet OR in a medium size freshwater lake (lets say 800meters in diameter for argument sake). In either or both of this scenarios do you guys think ice flow movement is of high enough risk that I should reconsider the whole project? I do plan to employ a bubbler deicer system to avoid general crushing.

    Tom, I've not slept on a boat in a full on storm. I've slept on boats big and small but not in truly worrisome weather and never when it has been my investment to protect. I'll be living aboard for most of Feb this year on a 28ft wooden sailboat, maybe that will provide more insight. It's true I am a novice and maybe I need more on water experience before committing to the move.

    Also Tom, you say if you were to do it again you would choose steel over plywood. Why is that?

    Tad, you might be right, with those estimated weights I would only have between 70,000lbs and 108,000Lbs dedicated for the float itself. Depending on the material chosen, perhaps there is a chance that the float will weigh more. In which case it might be time to think about a lighter house and or more draft. Yes, the snowload is an over estimate to be safe. With most of the 22'X24' house dumping it's snow into the drink, I should only have to worry about the snow on the decks which should be far less and easy to shovel. (Wonder how many times I'll slip and fall in :)...

    Also I'm hoping to keep the pluming, water/graywater holding tanks and a little storage in the hull, but it seems to me that I would gain more from the peace of mind of the hull being foam-filled than having more living space.
     
  5. FloatHomeHelp
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Location: Nova Scotia Canada

    FloatHomeHelp Float Home Help?

  6. Luckless
    Joined: Mar 2009
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    Luckless Senior Member

    Permits: Provincial Department of Natural Resources. Transport Canada will also likely have paperwork for you as well. They can be had, sometimes easily, sometimes extremely hard, and there are a lot of factors that play into them.

    I strongly suggest you forget about placing it in salt water anywhere in Nova Scotia, NB, PEI, or NFLD. (Might find somewhere in Quebec, but all areas I'm familiar with are still a no-go in my mind for year round.)

    Simple reason is this: Ice in this region gets pushed by storms, and I'm sure you're well aware that we get a good number of them, and they're not always coming from exactly the same direction. The location may be fine for five or six years in a row, and on the seventh have a million tonnes of ice or more rammed up inside it. Or you could get it in the first winter. To make matters even worse, most of the coast line in the region is prone to 'funnelling' when it comes to storm surge and tidal action. Ice gets pushed, compresses together and gets even thicker as it moves up an inlet. Easily can wind up with ice that has been piled up on top of itself to five or six times its normal thickness.

    Lakes are marginally better, but you still have to deal with our very harsh freeze-thaw cycles. This is a real killer here that some other cold regions don't have to deal with. We can flip from a freeze to a thaw five or six times for when other areas with 'similar' climates will go through one. This means any small crack in something important, such as your house's hull, gets some water in, the water freezes, expands, splits things open more, thaws, lets more water in, then repeats the cycle. Combine that with some of the above battering rams, and you best make sure you use a dry suit flotation device for pjs!

    This is a big reason as to why brick and stone buildings in our region go to hell so quickly when upkeep is allowed to slack a little, and similar buildings in places like the UK can go decades before the damage becomes critical.

    Head south and avoid the ice, hit up protected waters on the west coast, or build a nice house on a hill somewhere over looking the water.
     
  7. ytquest
    Joined: Oct 2005
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    Location: Hendersonville,Tn.

    ytquest Junior Member

    I like Luckless's idea, I don't live anywhere near that far north for just that reason. Although I do enjoy Calgary and seeing my friend from that area.
    Now that my son is grown I am ready to head back to W. Palm and further south.
     
  8. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    FHH,

    Steel is more robust.
     
  9. viking north
    Joined: Dec 2010
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    Location: Newfoundland & Nova Scotia

    viking north VINLAND

    While Atlantic Canada is quazi wilderness it is not so much so along the coast. The coast is traditionally where the early settlers settled. The first battle you will have is anchoring regulations. Less than 200ft. from the coast and Coast Guard regs. state you must have a release form signed by the upland property owner before Coast Guard will even consider an application. Once you get thru that you will have to satisfy grey and black water regulations. Insurance will be another challenge- I bet my bottom dollar --not a chance unless it was professionally designed and inspected thru out the build.
    As far as fighting the natural elements, Luckless has pointed out the big enemy,ICE. Another one will be tons and tons of wet snow and sleet which Atlantic Canada is also famous for. 20cm. snow at-10C one day and +10, 40mph. wind with sleet and rain 8hrs. later. Another pain in the neck gift from nature here is marine growth. I don't use antifowling on my rowing dory and I have to haul it out and clean the bottom twice a season. So yes no matter what you build it will have to be hauled. Houseboats are not a good idea for our climate. ---Geo

    A yacht is not defined by the vessel but by the care and love of her owner ---
     
  10. FloatHomeHelp
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Location: Nova Scotia Canada

    FloatHomeHelp Float Home Help?

    Sobering thoughts. Lots to consider.
     
  11. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    FHH!

    Soooo, what's the budget look like?

    There are so many ways to do it, it really boils down to money available.

    I think you're nuts but that is only my opinion and I'd hate to discourage you.

    Another approach could be to build a rail system to haul it in and out seasonally.

    But then you really have to ask, is it worth it for what you're getting?

    That's a value for the money question that can only be answered by you and is really none of my business.
     
  12. parkland
    Joined: Jul 2012
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    Location: canada

    parkland Senior Member

    What about aluminum pontoons?

    Heres price for a giant Tri-toon kit:

    ~ 22' x 70' aluminum platform kit
    ~ 3 x 42" diameter 70' long pontoons
    ~ twin integrated transoms
    ~ heavy duty side and bottom keels
    ~ weight capacity is.........62,533 lbs.
    ~ platform kit weighs....... 13,604 lbs.

    100k$

    If you built the walls with aluminum frames, and paneled the outside with aluminum sheet, and used spray foam to insulate it, you should be able to build a large home.

    And still have the option of installing engines and cruising !
     
  13. FloatHomeHelp
    Joined: Oct 2012
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    Location: Nova Scotia Canada

    FloatHomeHelp Float Home Help?

    Hey guys thanks for your thoughts. I've really taken these concerns to heart.

    It turns out my stubborn nature won't allow me to walk away from the project just yet. I've decided the way to move forward is to approach Navel Architects from my region and see if they can recommend a way to overcome/work with the elements. If so, (and I can afford it) then I will move forward with the project. If not, then at least I have followed through to the best of my abilities.

    Having a positively buoyant, foam filled float shouldn't abruptly sink. So hopefully I could forgo the floating drysuit PJs. I wonder if there are ways to maintain certain materials while still in the water to avoid Haul outs. One example of success is a DRDC research station in the Bedford Basin that has been afloat out there for many years (link below) I wonder the details with that? I know they have a federal government budget and I most certainly do not, but perhaps some of the same principles can scale down.

    There must be a way. So much to learn.

    http://www.drdc-rddc.gc.ca/drdc/en/...facilities-installations/acoustic-acoustique/
     
  14. Submarine Tom

    Submarine Tom Previous Member

    Steel with appropriate sacrificial anodes, i.e. zincs and compartmentalization.

    Good luck, let us know what evolves.
     

  15. DocScience
    Joined: Apr 2010
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    Location: Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

    DocScience Wishful builder

    to FloatHomeHelp
    This thread is really old .... I found it a very interesting read through as I was also just researching some house float systems ...
    I just came across it and am interested if you built something and what did you finally use ??
    I am in Sydney, Nova Scotia... In what part of Nova Scotia are you located ??
     
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