Floating Homes

Starting around 18,000 years ago, when the last ice age began receding, sea level has risen by about 400 feet. The National Climate Assessment forecasts a rise of up to 4 feet by 2100. Floating home living may soon be a necessity.

There are two types of floating homes:

  • Permanently-floating homes in lakes and other waterways.
  • Homes that float only when flood waters swell, but sit on the ground during the dry season.

Requiring the latter on new construction within floodplains, and considering same for threatened shorelines, is one way to plan for the future. Although floating homes near the coast need protected waters, wave walls and dykes (as used in Europe) are a future possibility. Inaction is costly. Some inspiration for those on the water:

Lake Huron, Great Lakes

houseboat
Lake Huron’s water levels vary dramatically from month-to-month, year-to-year. MOS Architects mos-office.net, Photo by Florian Holzherr.

floating home
House was built on a steel platform structure with steel pontoons. mos-office.net Photo by Florian Holzherr.

On The Mississippi

floating home
The easiest homemade solution, foam blocks under your home. The 4 guide posts keep the house in place as it rises, just like a floating dock. buoyantfoundation.org
Dr. Elizabeth English of the Buoyant Foundation explains the necessity of buoyant homes. A steel frame that holds the flotation blocks is attached to the underside of the house. There are four ‘vertical guidance’ poles not far from the corners of the house. The tops of the poles are attached to the steel frame. The poles telescope out of the ground, allowing the house to move up and down. Please visit buoyantfoundation.org

India


Intrigued? Check out eBay’s houseboat auctions page

You never know what’ll pop up here. Sometimes it’s boats that don’t look like floating homes at all, other times a legitimate house boat will come up. Worth checking back if only to indulge your dreams.

Or do some research in case the perfect home ever floats your way:

  • The Houseboat Book by Barbara Flanagan
  • Handmade Houseboats: Independent Living Afloat by Russell Conder
  • My Cool Houseboat: An Inspirational Guide to Stylish Houseboats by Jane Field-Lewis

  • The Float House

    floating house
    Designed by Morphosis Architects and students from UCLA collects its own water, generates its own electricity, and is capable of floating as high as 12 feet on rising flood waters. Flotation is made possibly by a single unit of expanded polystyrene foam coated in glass fiber reinforced concrete. The panelized walls, windows, interior finishes and kit roof are prefabricated and assembled on-site. The screens slide in front of glass for hurricane winds. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, which is dedicated to building affordable and green housing for New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, has built 50 LEED homes in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward so far, with 100 more under construction. He has built them all for under $150,000.

    Holland

    floating house
    Green roofed SchwimmHausBoat by German architects Confused-Direction — is a permanently floating home. Note that the floatation itself is not very bulky. sascha-akkermann.de

    Maasbommel, The Netherlands #1

    floating house
    The Dutch have realized that building higher dikes to keep out the sea is no longer the solution. Here’s a community of 37 homes near the Maas River dyke, a river which is known for its seasonal flooding. These homes cost less than 5% more than the cost of conventional construction. Picture above is during a swell. Designed by Factor Architecten

    floating home
    Amphibious homes that rest on land but are built to rise when waters rise. When the river swells the house will float as much as 18 feet. It floats back down as the water subsides. Designed by Factor Architecten

    floating home
    Houses sit on hollow concrete foundations that are attached to six iron piers. The fat posts in between the houses are the guides that keep the homes in place as they glide up and down. Factor Architecten

    IJburg District, Amsterdam

    floating homes
    Ijburg has floating neighbourhoods with docks and jetties instead of roadways. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer rohmer.nl

    floating homes
    Lightweight 3 story steel homes are supported by concrete “tubs” submerged in the water to a depth of half a story. Bedrooms are on the lowest floor. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer rohmer.nl Photo: Roos Aldershoff.

    floating homes
    IJ Lake — Seventy-five floating homes and waterside dyke houses. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer. rohmer.nl

    Netherlands — Regenboogkade

    floating homes
    Plus 31 Architects plus31architects.nl

    floating homes

    Borneo-Sporenburg

    , Netherlands. A new interpretation of traditional Dutch canal houses. For more info and pics see here: west8.nl Pic: Room 19 flickr.com

    Ladner, British Columbia

    floating homes
    On the Fraser River. There are 500 floating homes in San Francisco, another 500 in Seattle, 500 in Vancouver, 3,500 in Portland, Oregon, 99 on Latsch Island on the Mississippi River in Minnesota and 40 in Yellowknife Bay, NWT. flickr.com

    Oregon

    floating home
    Tomahawk Moorage.
    portlandfloatinghomeinfo.com

    Scarborough Bluffs, Ontario, Canada

    floating homes
    Instead of raccoons at your back door—ducks. flickr.com

    Yellowknife Bay, Northwest Territories

    floating homes
    The floating homes in this remote community tend to be colorful. Photo by Arctic Man flickr.com

    Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor, Richmond, CA

    floating-home-wash
    Pretty floating home. Image: CT Young. flickr.com

    Thames River near Hampton Court: Taggs Island, UK

    floating house
    Everyone on Taggs Island lives on a floating home; there are 40 hugging the perimeter and 20 in the central lagoon, all attached to piles driven into the riverbed. More info: taggs-island.com Pic Grahamsjz flickr.com

    Minnesota

    lakeunionhouseboat
    floating-home-latsch-island-minnesota
    Every year the river homes become locked into the ice in the Latsch Island Boathouse Community on the Mississippi River. The extra weight of thick ice and snow needs to be removed from the roofs and decks of floating homes. The residents of this community also tie their homes to the trees during the spring swell. Pic: Floatin Winona Project fotovisura.com

    Esquimalt, British Columbia

    floating homes
    Floating House Street. Pic: Ruth Anderson

    Stony Lake, Ontario

    floating home
    gh3 Architects designed this boathouse for the photographer’s studio ‘Williams Studio’. The boathouse is located on Stony Lake, Canada. gh3.ca

    Portland, Oregon

    floating home
    Fennell Residence — Robert Harvey Oshatz Architects. Pictures: Cameron Neilson, lots more here: oshatz.com

    Lake Union, Seattle

    floating home
    From residencehousedesign.com

    floating homes
    From the air. Photo by tenaschuck.org

    floating homes Exterior shots for the 1993 “Sleepless in Seattle” movie were shot here. Seattle Daily Photo flickr.com

    lakeunionhouseboat
    en.wikipedia.org

    floating home
    New Craftsman style. seattle.olx.com

    floating-home-seattle(1)
    By Northwest Architects More pics: designsnw.com

    floating home
    Aluminum panels (polluting to manufacture) and rain screen cladding with fiber cement panels sheath the exterior. Vandeventer and Carlander Architects. vc-arch.com

    floating home
    The kitchen of above home. Hydronic in-floor heating utilizes an energy efficient heat pump system and the ventilation system utilizes a heat exchanger. vc-arch.com

    Lake Austin in Austin, Texas

    lake-austin-lakeflato-architects-swamp-behind-the-house
    Lake Flato Architects. Lots more here: lakeflato.com

    Sausalito, CA

    floating home
    The most famous of the Sausalito houseboats, the “Taj Majal”, a miniature version of the Taj Mahal in India. It was a bed and breakfast for a few years, now it’s a private home again. flickr.com

    floating home
    Sausalito floating homes have a history that stretches over a century. This home made from an old tugboat. A double sense of security. Source

    Kashmir

    kashmir-houseboat
    Houseboats in Kashmir. Not homes but rentals for 135. + a night. kashmirhouseboats.com

    Vietnam

    floating home
    Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, where people have been living in floating homes for centuries… Pic: Mikel Bilbao © 2010 mikelbilbao.photoshelter.com

    Powell Lake, British Columbia

    floating home
    floating cabin on log raft. See a picture of the log flotation raft under construction here. tinyhouseblog.com More pics here: powellriverbooks.blogspot.com

    Maine

    perry-creek-vinalhaven-maine
    Perry Creek, near Vinalhaven Island, Maine. A custom-built floating cabin. Builder unknown. Photo by Marcus Peabody.

    Holland

    floating home
    This is a two-level home. The bedrooms and bathrooms are below sea level. plus31architects.com

    floating home
    Plus 31 Architects, see their website for many more floating home designs. plus31architects.com Photo: Iwan Baan

    The Last Resort

    last-resort-houseboat-rafaa-architects
    The design recently won a competition, and with funding in place the team expects to begin fabrication soon. Roof-integrated solar panels generate electricity for the two electric engines that propel the home. RAFAA Architecture & Designs rafaa.ch

    New Water, The Netherlands

    floating house
    ‘New Water‘ will be the world’s first floating apartment complex, The Citadel. They will use 25% less energy than a conventional building due to the use of water cooling techniques. Architect: WaterStudio waterstudio.nl

    Floating Island Seoul

    floating island seoul
    The world’s largest artificial ‘floating island’ on Seoul’s Han River is a 20,400 square-meter development, housing three inter-connected cultural centers. It was privately funded at a cost of about $88 million. miceseoul.com

    Qatar

    floating home

    Floating Hotel

    — The connecting bridge is planted with trees, giving the impression of land projecting into the sea. Designed by the Giancarlo Zema Design Group for an Arabian commission. giancarlozema.com

    The Maldives

    greenstar-hotel-waterstudio
    Floating City under construction in the Maldives. The green covered star-shape building symbolizes the Maldivian innovative route to conquer climate change. This will become a location for conventions about climate change, water management and sustainability. Architect Koen Olthuis–Waterstudio.NL. Developer Dutch Docklands–dutchdocklands.com

    Lilypads: Floating Eco-Cities

    floating home
    Each 50,000-person pad is a designed as a zero-emission floating community that uses solar, wind, tidal and biomass power to generate energy for its inhabitants. vincent.callebaut.org

    Floating Stadium

    floating home
    Travels to the venue via a blend of hybrid energies using water, wind and solar power. German design firm, Stadium Concept. stadiumconcept

    Floating House With Solar Panels And Roof Garden

    floating home
    Equipped with an incinolet toilet which burns waste instead of creating more sewage. Drinking water is collected from rainstorms and filtered into a glass partition wall inside. The inner temperature of the boat is regulated by a geothermal pond loop which runs from the bottom of the water source through a piling supporting the dock and into the floor of the boat. By Wyatt Little — Houston, Texas coroflot.com

    Environmental Impact Of Houseboats

    An issue with houseboats is that most flotation systems aren’t yet green. Used most are log floats, solid styrofoam encased in rubber, foam filled steel pontoons, positive concrete, concrete pontoons, concrete and foam, wood and foam, polyethylene shell with solid core polystyrene block molded inside, fiberglass and envirofloat.

    For waste, you must use incinerator toilets, compost toilets or a hook up to sewer services along the dock.

    In Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-626, a decision was rendered that floating structures be treated as land-based homes, not as a vessel subject to maritime laws.

    katrina-new-orleans-flooding
    We can now reimagine this scene.

    Houseboat Building And Architects

    Architects as mentioned above and…

    Vancouver: floatinghomes.com
    Seattle: seattleafloat.com
    Argentina: econautico.com.ar

    Affiliate Policy (full policy): Posts may contain links to outside vendors that pay us a commission when you purchase from them, at no additional cost to you. Thank you in advance for supporting our site.


    Author: keiren

    Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building.

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    38 comments

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    1

    You need to add the float homes from Yellowknife Bay, Yellowknife, NT, Canada.

    Theyhave midnight sun in the summer & freeze in during the -40C winter temperatures when satalite TV starts to work.

    2

    Thanks for the tip!

    3

    Moden Green House

    4

    Thanks for including my float home on Powell Lake BC in your collection. If you would like to read more about it visit my blog http://PowellRiverBooks.blogspot.com

    Margy

    5

    I'm interested in floating house. I would like to know whether it can be built on ground so that when the land is flooded the house can float.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    6

    I'm interested in floating house. I would like to know whether it can be built on ground so that when the land is flooded the house can float.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    7
    ducancelle jean michel

    Bonjour,

    je vous signale qu'il manque anthenea, maison flottante ? vision sous marine autonome, dont plusieurs exemplaires ont été réalisés.

    ducancelle.com. Le projet certainement le plus futuriste et réaliste francais.

    cordialement

    Jean Michel ducancelle

    Hello,

    I would point out that lack anthenea house floating autonomous underwater vision, many copies were made.

    ducancelle.com. The project certainly the most futuristic and realistic french.

    cordially

    Jean Michel Ducancel

    8

    Thank you for this wonderful insight, into what can be achieved, with a bit of Imagination.

    And it keeps the depression away, one gets, when floods & disasters arrive.

    Hope to own one sometime.

    G.Gaby

    08:45 a.m.

    9

    Anyone out there, who needs a hand, to help Build, renovate one of these.

    Holland, Summer months, until September'12.

    Would need accomodation

    Voluntary, Wood machinist, part-time Electrics..

    Available.

    G.Gaby

    08:53 a.m.

    10

    Hello All

    I have purchased a floathome and am currently living in it. I am looking to replace the floats. I need any help anyone can provide.

    Ideally I need to know where I can purchase foam and if there is anyone who could foreman the operation. I have lots of friends and family for labour with skills and tool but no boat nohow. Budget is also a main concern.

    THANKS!!!

    11

    I thank you for doing things as beautiful.

    It's LITERAL my dream come true, knowing that this exist, i know that what I dreamed for 3 years, it has come true., and knowing that someone finally it did REALITY, motivated me in ways unimaginable.

    My English is very bad, as you may have noticed, but try to write what else I can, because it is true, THE DREAMS EXIST.

    THANKS FOR DO THE FLOATING HOUSE.

    P.S. Thank you so much and greetings from Xalapa, Veracruz, México.

    I hope one day to make it happen

    12

    I'm very impressed with this architecture and the durability and strength. I know of another site for the building of bamboo homes (pre-fab), but was wondering if there's a possibility of a floating variation for an average person to build. Is the architect Simon Velez available for small scale construction? Maybe in construction with another company as a consultant?

    13

    A bamboo floating home sounds like a great idea (I suppose other than in a hurricane prone area).

    It looks like Simon Velez does some small scale works, I see a treehouse even, check out his website, http://www.deboerarchitects.com. If you write to him, maybe he would come up with a floating bamboo design! Worth a try.

    14

    Do You build concret project realy? That about prices?

    Thanks

    15

    These are some of the most unique floating home photos I have seen anywhere on the internet. I don't know where to start...certainly the Netherlands seems to be an innovator and design, probably out of necessity due to the need for land reclamation (and the floating home alternative). I was also unaware that Portland had such a large floating home community!

    16

    This article says that Portland, Oregon has 3500 floating homes. Most would be on the Columbia River, and frequently are on wood pilings. In the winter of 1996-97 there was a bad flood and many of the floating home communities came within literally a foot or two of floating off the pilings. Once the river crested there was also a fear that winter winds would come up, and snap the pilings. This was a very scary week ---and insurance probably would not have covered the losses, had they occurred. Plus numerous yacht moorages were also at risk. Could have been hundreds of millions $$ in losses!! Some of the houseboats were moored to dolphin type pilings and nearly reached the top of those. Even the steel pilings were nearly breached, but the marinas welded extensions on the following summer. Many houseboats, however, are still on wooden pilings.

    17

    Since the first time I was traveling in Kalimantan ( Borneo ) in 1973 my mind kept wondering why in other place of Indonesia people do not adopt this method of living , namely floating houses on huge log. Eventhough at that time I felt what a pity of those huge and valuable timber used as a floater while there are other substitute. Here in Jakarta where I live just a month ago there had been flood due to the monsoon and also that the upstream area is heavily deforested. Now the issue is to do reclamation which I assume is not ' ecological '. Rather than reclamation it would be better to make floating settlement , which is following the nature rythm. Perhaps your idea and expertise would be valuable for the other parts of Indonesia and the other part of the world as well

    18
    Jeffrey Taylor

    This type of construction may have saved thousands of homes at the New Jersey and New York Shore areas hard hit by Sandy. Coould someone please forward this info to the powers that be in these areas!

    19

    I have a project in France along a lake with highly exceptionnal floods and try to promote the concept as a preventative solution with planning authorities

    Contact me to exchange views

    thanks

    m contie

    20

    I want to build a floating house due to floods happening more often where I live. I'm just concerned about the plumbing. Are there like stretchable pipes or something? Drainage and toilet pipes cannot just detach once the house floats, right? Everything should still be functional like electricity, cable TV and plumbing. Please reply. Thanks!

    21

    Extendable pipes are an option. All utilities and plumbing are placed in extendable piping that goes up and down with the home...electric wires are bunched up in telescoping waterproof piping...plumbing pipes telescope, etc...

    22

    I am very interested in learning more about living in this Eco type floating homes

    Absolutely Fantastic!

    23

    As I explained this thing to others they didn't accept the foam filling concept so I need the proof please send me the video or the URL of the video to shanmugapriyan1211@gmail.com

    24

    Thank you for your inspirational ideas. I will use these pictures and ideas to stimulate my students to get involved with a challenge of building flood resistant homes.

    An eye opener, thank you

    25

    Help support the finishing of 'Houseboat Wars' on Kickstarter. Search Houseboat Wars on Kickstarter. Houseboat Wars is a documentary about a community in Sausalito that won the right to live on the water. An adaptive solution to sea level rise & climate change. Endorsed by the San Francisco Film Society follow us on Twitter @HouseboatWars

    26

    A great idea for projects.

    Well done.

    EXCELLENT vision for the future towards keeping pace with the climatic change.

    27

    Hello,

    I'm Mikio Ito, a Japanese editor. Now i'm writng an article about houses in the world. I wnat to borrow your photo, floating house in Nederland.

    Japanese high school students read it.

    I'm waiting your ready consent.

    Best regards,

    Mikio Ito

    28

    You must contact the builder or photographer that is linked to after the text, below the image you desire to use. Please contact them for permission. Thx. Best.

    29

    Information about plots, lands or any other thing which comes under real estate can't be find correct any where but your blog seems to be one of the best one in sharing information as it contain information with honesty. I also want to introduce Vnext construction who are dealing with Exterior Cladding Material and many more thing. They are well known for maintaining trust with the customers and also providing them with best material.

    30

    Dear Sir,

    I am jean-michel ducancelle architect. I invite you to see my site www. ducancelle.com to see my experience about to live in the sea and particulary about Anthenea, a real ocean house with submarine vision.

    Best regards

    31

    Need to built 10,000 units of single studio room asap for the homeless.

    33

    Hey Zul Chin,

    Here's my design work and research study for the solution throughout Malaysia

    http://www.behance.net/gallery/22668383/Humanitarian-Architecture-in-MalaysiaThe-Case-of-Flood

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/252390692/Flood-Resilient-Architecture

    Please contact me : jeaveinchan@gmail.com

    34

    Most homes have fixed wiring and plumbing connections to electrical, gas, water and sewer connections. When the water rises, how does the home break free from its utility connections which are typically at grade or sub-grade level? The gas pipes are iron, water can have copper or PVC, sewer is PVC or ductile iron, and electrical is copper wiring. All of these connections could hold down the home. Buoyancy may eventually break the home free, but if water gets over the door thresholds before the home breaks free of the utility connections, the weight of the water will counter the buoyancy and the home will not float. Another possibility is that the utilities are holding one side of the home and the other side lifts. Eventually the angle will become so severe that it will cause the telescopic arms/posts to lock up and the home will be flooded on its side. Just some obvious issues I noted while watching the video. If these are overcome, this could work. However, the biggest issue is cost. Many of the people in the New Orleans area that flooded were too poor to afford flood insurance. How would they afford to retrofit their home with a flotation system? Please don't say government funded.

    35

    I believe that Foy Brown built the boathouse you have with the caption:

    'A custom-built floating cabin in Perry Creek, nearby the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. Builder unknown. Photo by Marcus Peabody.'

    See also the video on youtube posted by HamiltonMarineInc - 'Keeping It In the Family'

    36

    1.What are the design procedure required by floating construction?

    2.How to construct floating building? step by procedure for floating home?

    Thank you

    37

    We offer china online fashion, come here and have a fun!

    38

    please reply past