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Art by Anitta
I actually live in the small boat and love it.
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Jason Shepard

This was a nice introduction, but Linda was right and several classes of houseboats were missed including the aforementioned Canal Boats as well as converted Powered Barges (which are generally much bigger than either Canal Boats OR common houseboats). This particular article focused primarily, it seems, on houseboats moored at docks rather than more mobile varieties or remote moorings.

We had seriously considered purchasing an self-propelled Navy causeway barge at one point and converting it to our home-on-the-water. It measured 22'8" wide by 90' long - plenty of space for living indoors and out (on decks) for our family of 6. The plan was a 14' wide x 60' long lower level with 26' front deck and a 14' wide x 30' long upper level with 30' front deck on top of the lower level (these measurements allow for a 4-foot-wide walkway around the entire structure to allow easier access for maintenance). The lower deck would be uncovered while the upper level including the deck would be covered by solar panels.

The barge had a 5'2" deep "basement" that could easily be used for storage, including freshwater tanks, blackwater tank, rainwater catchment tanks and a greywater reuse system, as well as having a custom-designed forced-water micro-hydro power system that would operate during movement and in riverways with a decent current to generate additional power. Its draft was only 2 feet, allowing it to navigate even fairly shallow waterways.

With the solar, hydro and water systems, the barge would be able to moored up about anywhere it was legal to do so with or without a shore power/shore water connection. I wish we were still considering this, but a drowning event in the family has nixed it for good as far as my wife is concerned.

Also be forewarned that living on the water isn't exactly cheap, especially if you plan to move around like our design called for. In addition to the mooring fees noted in the article, vessels must be removed from the water every 10 years for maintenance. Water spray will wreak havoc on your houseboat's exterior (which is why marine-grade products should be used externally, which is an added expense) and if you are located or traveling in salt water, the wear and tear will exponentially increase. If you utilize a self-propelled home, like we planned to, fuel costs are NOT cheap. If you don't use a self-propelled unit, but want to move your home, tug services are exorbitantly expensive.

Think of it this way, especially if you are using a self-propelled unit as a base for your home: Your home is now movable and it can be both your main home AND your vacation home. But, it's going to cost as much to maintain, insure and move it around as BOTH of those landlocked homes combined would. If you can handle that fact, enjoy your new dreamboat!

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Jason Shepard

With all that said, for a non-powered home, Dan Nelson's industrial, boxy design (1st and 9th photos) is TO DIE FOR. Absolutely gorgeous home that's right up my alley!

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