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DIY Houseboat Plans

Updated July 20, 2017

A houseboat is the perfect home away from home. Build one that includes all the amenities you don't like to live without, and go float it somewhere beautiful. Wake up in the morning, make your coffee, walk out onto the deck and watch the sunrise, toss a line in the water, even check your e-mail if you must. Sound like heaven? Maybe you want to tackle this giant-sized project. Research the idea thoroughly to see if designing and building a houseboat might infuse your life with joy and adventure.

Brainstorm your ideas. Write them all down. Why do you want a houseboat? What would you do with it? How many people do you envision being on it? How fancy do you want it? Are there some critical features you have to have? What kind of a budget might you be working with? Save your ideas and keep adding to them and refining them as you go along.

Check out the regulations in your area. If you're dreaming of floating away the weekends on a nearby lake or river, make sure your nautical dreams don't conflict with the legal realities. Restrictions on motors and emissions, requirements to have firefighting equipment and life jackets on board, and operator registration rules are some things you might encounter.

Consider how you will transport your houseboat. If you want to plunk it onto a trailer and haul it down the freeway behind your SUV, this will affect your design parameters, because there are regulations about how wide and how long a load you can haul.

Look online for study plans. While there are many houseboat plans available for purchase, you can also find less-detailed study plans for free, that include quite a bit of information on the dimensions, features, and materials needed to build a certain design. These can help you figure out what will work for you, and guide you in designing your craft.

Explore some of the websites devoted to houseboat living. These are replete with ideas and free resources, including plans, guides on making the many design decisions, construction, equipment, and maintenance information, and even a free magazine subscription.

Purchase or check out a book on boat building. Certain aspects of constructing a boat rather than a house are critical when you're planning to use electricity, cook and refrigerate, operate plumbing and generate sewage, and travel around on a big body of water instead of sit still on a patch of dirt. Decide whether you will build on pontoons, refit an old existing boat, nail together a wooden houseboat, or work with aluminium or fibreglass. Construction methods differ dramatically depending on the materials you choose.

Purchase plans, or draw out your own design according to the parameters you've developed. You're ready to make your DIY houseboat dreams come true.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet
  • Book on boat building
  • Large graph paper and regular paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Ruler
  • Calculator
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About the Author

LeeAnn Bonds has been writing since 2005. Her articles have appeared in "Idaho Magazine" and "BackHome Magazine." Bonds has a short story published and is the Bible Basics editor at BellaOnline. She has a Bachelor of Science in business management from Fitchburg State College and completed a two-year writing course offered by the Christian Writers Guild.