Can Houseboats Be Moved? Here’s What You Need To Know

In Boating by Morten Storgaard

As housing costs rise, people are looking to alternatives. Some have found that living on the water is the answer that they need.

You might be wondering if a houseboat can be moved or if they are stationary homes more than boats.

Can House Be Moved?
Some houseboats are not meant to be moved while others are perfectly capable of being moved. Some movable houseboats have a motor while others must be towed.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Floating Home Vs. Houseboats

There are two main categories of houseboats:

  1. Non-cruising houseboat:
    They aren’t meant for the open water, but they might have a sail or a small motor. Most of the time they are tied to a dock or moored. This is the most common type of floating home.
  2. A cruising houseboat, or bluewater houseboat
    These homes are mobile. You can take these out on the open water and be used for excursions. They will definitely have sails or an engine. This type of houseboat relies on fuel more for mobility.

The typical houseboat will have a hull that is submerged underneath the water. This makes it easier for it to move in the waves and to be relocated.

There are two main types of designs to houseboats. One is made to maximize maneuverability. In this design, the living area is made to maximize the space and it is above or within the hull. Many have living and sleeping quarters within the hull of the boat.

While they are nonmoving for the most part, you can get seasick.

Be sure to spend time in a floating home or houseboat in all kinds of weather before you decide on purchasing it to make sure you are comfortable with the decision.

Another must for living in a floating home or houseboat is that you love nature.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is a much different lifestyle than living on land. You will need to haul the trash out on the land and bring groceries down on the ramp.

Some homes are parked about 10 feet away from each other. You’ll get to know your neighbors and hear their music as well.

“Floating Homes” Are Stationary Houseboats

Floating homes are stationary and do not move.

They are often in communities that are long-lasting and are likely to last for a long time. This provides owners with a sense of stability and permanency.

These homes are set up on a platform, with a walkway that connects them to land.

A house barge is a floating home that has a hull which is constructed for navigating the water or towing. This type of building doesn’t need to adhere to floating home construction requirements.

As well as being affordable, floating homes offer solutions to rising sea levels and urban restrictions on space.

For the most part, anything you build on land can be built on water. This can allow for architectural or creative freedom.

There are two kinds of floating homes:

  1. The first kind is permanently floating in a waterway or a lake.
  2. The second floats when the water levels rise. During the dry season, they sit on the ground.

Compared to houseboats, floating homes are often larger and have more square feet. The larger size means that they rock less.

A floating home is similar to a condo. Rather than renting a unit onshore, you rent it on the water. There are no HOA fees, but you do pay money to the dock and slip.

You permanently connect the floating home to water, electricity, and sewer once.

Floating homes really do float. They may have up to 30 barrels and 100 floats to keep it afloat. The floats are normally made out of Styrofoam.

The key to a floating home is to keep the weight in the home evenly distributed. If it’s uneven, from the weight of furniture or people at a party, it can cause one of the floats to get loose and float away.

One word to the wise is that storage is scarce in floating homes.

They very rarely have garages or attics. On rare occasions, they do have basements or wine cellars built-in, with portholes installed.

Things to Know about Living in a Floating Home

Floating homes give residents all of the comforts of a home on land, with the added perk of being a unique place for them to live.

You may get visits from the local wildlife, such as seagulls or fish. Other visitors could be manatees or otters.

When you’re looking to finance the house, a loan could require a dive survey. Before you purchase the home, it is important to have someone go beneath the surface and take a look at it. It is actually a requirement of many lenders in order to analyze the quality of the house and the construction.

They’re going to be looking at the condition of the house as well as the floatation that’s there.

Floating Home Communities

In the United States, the largest floating home communities are in Seattle, Florida, and San Francisco. In Canada, they are in Vancouver.

The Netherlands also has a large floating home communities area.

A community can be made up of 6 or more homes. They will share a boardwalk. Some are privately situated on waterfronts, but the majority are in these communities.

There is a big draw towards these homes in North America because there is no tax for living on the land.

Where Do I Find Floating Homes?

Tip
We have made an article here with the 10 best places to find a houseboat. It’s a great resource whether you are looking for a houseboat that can be moved or a stationary houseboat.

Furniture Can Impact The Balance

Having heavy furniture can throw off the balance of the floating house. If there is a heavy piece of furniture somewhere in the house, then the floatation will need to be moved.

This helps to guarantee that the house stays level.

Houseboats That Can Be Moved

Houseboats are domiciles on the water, much like floating homes. They can be moved, and are self-propelled.

Houseboats can vary from a hut on a raft to something resembling an RV, to a million-dollar home.

These are different than other types of homes on land in that they require maintenance, and often more than just the mechanical sort of maintenance.

There will need to be some concessions to running appliances. You probably won’t be able to run 220-volt appliances, so you should scale down to a 110-volt appliance.

Many houseboats will not have washers or dryers.

Tip
We have made an article here with the 10 best places to find a houseboat. It’s a great resource whether you are looking for a houseboat that can be moved or a stationary houseboat.

These homes may be on propane. You might need to make trips to fill up the tanks.

In most countries in the West, houseboats are rented or privately owned for use on weekends or holidays.

Some European countries have houseboats where people live in them all year round. In the canals of London, Paris, and Amsterdam you can find people living in houseboats.

In Asian countries, houseboats are commonly a place for living and for working. They will have families living together and also be used for fishing or transporting goods.

Common Materials for Houseboats

Houseboats are made out of light and floatable materials. These can be ferro-cement, wood, steel, fiberglass or aluminum. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

For wood homes, they are less expensive, doesn’t transmit vibrations and have good resiliency and strength. The downside is that it is prone to fire and can require yearly painting. Ferro cement is a combination of Portland cement, pozzolana and fine sand over a framework of chicken wire and pipe rods. It is fireproof, maintenance-free, strong, and rot proof.

However, they can be very heavy and do not handle well in rough water.

Steel is almost seamless and tough. Fiberglass is another construction material that is durable, very strong, resilient and totally seamless. Aluminum is lightweight and good on fuel consumption. It’s also easier to shape than steel, and you can apply special coatings to help prevent corrosion.

Care of Floating Homes and Houseboats

When there is a storm coming, you will need to tie down the furniture and take outdoor items indoors. It’s just like being on a ship

Buying a floating home is similar to buying a regular home. However, there is a sales tax due when you purchase it.

They might be more difficult to get a lender for in some areas.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living on the Water

Many people will enjoy the connection with nature that living on the water gives them. It can also help them to create connections within a community. They also will be more likely to take care of the water that they live on.

A disadvantage can be for families with young children. They do not have space where children can run around and play. Another disadvantage is in the case of an accident, such as a fire or sinking, the owners would lose all of their possessions.

Floating homes and houseboats are unique ways of living. They vary greatly in size and shape, and it all depends on what your budget is and where you want to live. Houseboats are mobile while floating homes are more permanent.