Building a house boat?

Discussion in 'Boating' started by catsmith1, May 13, 2007.

  1. catsmith1

    catsmith1 New Member

    Messages:
    1,073
    State:
    Haughton, Louisiana
    I am looking at a 18?x40? frame and toons for a houseboat. It is floating down at the local marina and has been there for years. The lady that owns it is considering selling it. She has not put a price on it yet.

    It has 4 toons that run the length of the frame. It floats level, seems solid enough. Have not really inspected it close.

    Has anyone built a house boat before? What should I consider before I start?

    I am thinking of leaving a porch on the front and back and Having a basic cottage in the middle. I would be doing all the work myself.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. DANZIG

    DANZIG New Member

    Messages:
    6,672
    State:
    West Virginia
    You know that "red-neck house boat" picture?
    I wonder if something like that might not be an easier way to go about it. Weight and balance would be an issue but aside from mounting, wiring, and controls, most of the work would be done.
    An old AirStream would look sweet I'll bet.

    Thoughts?
     

  3. DANZIG

    DANZIG New Member

    Messages:
    6,672
    State:
    West Virginia
    Mmm.. Figured Mark would chime in on this one.

    I may do this someday and would be interested to hear thoughts on how best it could be done.
     
  4. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    I've come real close to house boat ownership. Close enough that I was standing in front of a man with money in hand.
    A glitch in the transaction provided me that one last chance for sanity.

    Oh I'd love a house boat no doubt about that. Who wouldnt?
    I wouldnt like the expense.
    Slip fees are high and at some point if you own it long enough its going to have to be maintained which would include hauling it out. Another expensive proposition. Now during a haul out you wind up paying for the haul, still paying for the slip and now also paying for yard space to do your maintaining in most places. Toilets. Now I wouldnt own one without a real toilet. Real toilets require holding tanks and also will require pumpouts. A pumpout these days can cost anywhere from 50-150 dollars. They got you good when you arent mobile as in trailering mobile.

    One of my biggest fears with owning a 14x39 footer was that the marina would call one day saying my boat needed to be evacuated ASAP because of some act of God or because that last party I threw ticked off the entire marina. Now moving some houseboats can be expensive. In my case you can figure moving a mobile home under the best scenario and I didnt own anything to trailer my mobile home on much less pull it. Yea, we're definately talking something equal to a mobile home mover here. you got length, WIDTH, and weight.
    Now what would the chances of a 23 year like myself at the time being able to keep that large houseboat emergency stash on hand at all times?
    I'd rather take my chances with a 5 dollar powerball ticket.:big_smile:

    In the last fews years its been building a trailerable houseboat. There are some nice plans out there by GlenL but there again, when I get some time to go fishing I want to go fishing not maintaining. You put a house on a boat and its going to require some maintaining.

    I think my saving grace is I dont want to have to pull even a trailerable one and I dont want to be at the mercy of a marina or landowner whose dock I'm tied to and in my opinion, there aint no lake big enough for any house boat of mine.
    I want to fish. If I owned a house boat I would have the guilt associated with "I need to be at the houseboat" instead of over here on the river where the fish are biting. People with beach houses or mountain houses as a second home go through the same thing. You've spent all this money to float in luxury over here on this lake but now the fishing is alot better on that lake over there.
    Not saying I wont ever own a houseboat. It would have to be an extremely good deal. Better then the 16,000 dollar deal I had on a houseboat valued at 38,000. I'm too young for a houseboat. Those things are for retirees with a stash, in the sock, the bank, and the stock market:big_smile:


    As for your plans. Weight and balance are critical.
    I would have to think seriously about hiring a naval engineer to figure out the load and balance of the entire package if I were going to do it right otherwise you'll probally go through alot of expense and time with little happiness or resale value out of it. Thats 100% of my opinion.
     
  5. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Now for my 110% opinion.
    INVEST in a lake lot, plop down a used camper on it, have fun and make money at the same time. They dont make land anymore.:smile2:
     
  6. DANZIG

    DANZIG New Member

    Messages:
    6,672
    State:
    West Virginia
    Wow Mark! Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel! LMAO!

    Seriously, all valid points, however, how would you go about it if you were to?

    If you were to go with my camper idea you are looking at a added dead load of somewhere round 2500 to 4000 lbs, any idea as to what it would take to float that?
     
  7. craddock1

    craddock1 Active Member

    Messages:
    962
    State:
    TENNESSEE
    several years ago i bought a 32 foot pontoon. i built a 12 foot cabin right in the middle out of aluminum. rented a slip at the local marina for 90.00 per month. signed a 1 year lease. 3 months later the marina owner raised the rent for everyone 35.00 per month. i argued i had a lease he said pay up or move but you will pay the remainder of the year. i talked to a lawyer and stayed the rest of the year and sold the pontoon. just before the end of the year he told me the rent was going up aother 25.00 a month. you are at thier mercy.
     
  8. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Floating it wouldnt be too hard to figure out. There are mathematical calculations for figuring weight capacities.
    Floating it right is something else entirely.

    Floating tied to a dock in a marina is entirely different then floating out in the middle of a lake with a 10 knot wind and busy weekend traffic while under power.
    I'm far too unqualified to figure that one out.
    A boat is just like a plane in the way that balance is important.
    Taking a tape measure and measuring the length of the boat and then placing your weight around the center of the measurement isnt centering the weight. The actual balance of the boat may be 55% of center or something like 60% of center from the stern. Thats a traditional hull. Pontoons I have no clue.
    Some pontoon boats cant take any weight much up front. Others need a little weight forward. I would think the size of the log would play a part in the differences. I'm just not that qualified.
    Thats why I always promote building boats as per plan instead of butchering a set of plans to lengthen or shorten a hull if you dont have the knowledge to do so.
    If you change one dimension in a boat every dimension changes, so does what the designer has already figured out for you like balance. Change one dimension in a plan you might as well throw the plans away because you just wrote a new book. That is a completely serious statement. Those plans now represent a boat you aren't building.

    I'm not saying at all that it cant be done or that you or I couldnt do it, but I know its not an area that many folks including myself are willing to put in the time, effort, money,and research to make sure we get it right.
    Its also one of those things that you would have a hard time finding someone that has that knowledge willing to mess with your dilemma. You arent going to be willing to pay what they want to drop their current projects in order to figure out a one time deal.
    I'm willing to play with trial and error on a small scale but houseboat scale I wouldnt be. Its just too much money and time involved in changing it if MY calculations were wrong.

    I ran into this one time with a designer I wanted to hire to design a stitch and glue carolina skiff. The lines of the boat are simple. Its a box.
    Its the figuring like the balance and the glassing schedule that you have to know your stuff. Its also time consuming.
    The designer knowing that the demand for such a plan was real low and that I wouldn't want to pay 5k for his design services declined.
    If hes got 5k invested in designing a vessel he has to sell alot of 75 dollar plan sets to even break even.
    Sure I could design and build my own skiff. it would probally be the 3rd or 4th one that I finally got it all figured out on.:lol: The first one would float and be usuable probally as usuable as most of what people buy new these days but it wouldnt be right just like what most folks got stuck with when they bought new these days.
    Unfortunately much of what hits the water these days didnt have the hand of an accomplished designer involved. It all boils down to money.
    It seems these days to see the value of a qualified architect /designer you have to be willing to fork out a mil or 3 for the product. I wouldnt say all because several really good designers have found a niche market in the amateur builder.

    I just dont feel compelled to attempt such a project because of my lack of knowledge and I naturally would feel less compelled to offer advice to someone else other then to seek out someone qualified.
    The difference in a small pilot house to get out of the weather and a full blown houseboat is a big difference.
     
  9. DANZIG

    DANZIG New Member

    Messages:
    6,672
    State:
    West Virginia
    I can appreciate all that Mark, but I don't think he had a "full blown" house boat in mind, Just a cabin on a "toon" is what I gathered from his post.

    Me on the other hand, well, I am just a looney Ol' red-neck. I 'spect with enough beers anything is possible.
     
  10. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    Yea, last count there is about 230 crushed beer cans on the toon project.:lol: