Design May 20, 2024

What Defines Houseboat Architecture?

Waterfront living appeals to many homeowners who seek the sights and sounds that only water can provide. Maybe you dream about hearing the waves hitting the shore as you fall asleep or being mere steps away from your own boat launch. The possibilities are endless, but for the ultimate waterfront property, houseboats are made for those who truly love the water.

Though it’s possible to live on a boat, houseboats differ from traditional water-borne vessels in a few key ways. For instance, they are moored in one location and, even though some have motors, they aren’t usually easily moveable from place to place. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on non-cruising houseboats—or as they’re also known, floating homes.

Houseboats are real property

If you choose to make a houseboat your home, you can expect many of the same responsibilities of a traditional home. You’ll need access to utilities, and you may pay property taxes. Houseboats are often moored in marinas or on docks that require moorage fees and for homeowners to join homeowners association organizations. Because houseboats are often quite literally floating single-family homes, they aren’t easily relocated, so the location of the houseboat is an important factor to consider.

Houseboats are typically modest in size

Most houseboats in the Western United States are relatively small compared to traditional houses. This is because many of them started out as shanty houses in the early 20th century for boat builders and fishermen who needed places to live.

Though you can find luxurious houseboats whose size and amenities rival land-based luxury homes, most houseboat owners get around the limitations of the small footprint by building up instead of out, adding second stories and rooftop decks.

Houseboats are ideal for minimalist living

Due to their size and lack of storage, houseboats are best suited for small families, empty nesters, or single occupants. What they lack in space, they make up for in the perks of being so close to nature and the rhythms of the water. And while living on the water brings different home maintenance responsibilities than living on land, you can say goodbye to chores like mowing the grass.

Houseboats are as diverse as traditional houses

Just like homes on solid ground, houseboats are built from a wide variety of materials and can range in style from mid-century modern to cozy cottage. And while they might lack land, many houseboats have outdoor living spaces and rooftop patios that allow for further enjoyment of the natural landscapes surrounding them.