Building a Houseboat with No Plans.
Building a Houseboat without Plans, only a 1/12 scale model.
My husband is building a 50' x 16' houseboat with out plans, from scratch, out of his own head - no plans, no blueprint, however with lots of unsought advice from me, from very amused neighbors, and generous total strangers.
After three years of cutting, gluing, screwing framing and fitting pressure-treated plywood, it now begins to look like an actual shanty houseboat, roof and all, and now we've come to the slow-picky stage, deciding on systems and figuring out how to install them - wiring, plumbing, outboards, and the like.
Eager to get this unlikely show on the road, even before it's got windows, galley and head, we've called a number of outboard motor salesmen and described the problem to head-scratching incredulity. Yes, we patiently explain.
The houseboat is in the water, since it was assembled there. No, we can't haul it out-- too big, but we can tow it to a nearby boat ramp to install a pair of 60-75-hp outboards. A few salesmen have actually come to call, to see the challenge close up, but as yet, we have not gotten the first written quote. The economic downturn doesn't seem to have hit them hard enough yet...
So, it is fun, but probably a long time before being underway, at this rate. Is there a question buried in this pile of verbiage? Why, yes. Many. Some of the questions that we have are:
House power: are we good to go with A/C throughout, rather than having some of each, if we install an inverter for solar panels and generator?
Since we're building our houseboat from scratch, our engine instruments, power controls, and navigation displays can be installed almost any way we like. If you had a blank slate, how would you do it? (In most multi-engine airplanes, the gauges are twinned- L-tachometer/R-tachometer, L-oil pressure/R-oil pressure, etc...
In the few power boats I've been aboard, the instruments seem to be clustered above the throttle for each engine, so you must look up to the left group, and then over to the right group to compare them. Do we care?
Do you have favorite brands for appliances, specifically, refrigerator and LP stove?
I'm thinking to go with a Raritan head and a Purasan waste treatment. Got another thought?
Flooring- I like wood. How will laminate hold up?
Other thoughts you care to share?
I'm grateful for whatever attention you have for all this foolishness!
Amelia from Edenton, NC.
Reply - Answer
Well Amelia, congratulations on your project, and on such a major undertaking, building a houseboat, with no plans, only a 1/12 scale model.
To answer some of your questions, Should you have A/C 120 volts throughout?
Well, you will find that the majority of houseboats have a combination of 12 volts and 120 volts, since some of the lighting and other accessories can be powered from DC power.Dual or
Twin Engine Instrument Placement?
That's a great point that I never considered, would it be better to have instruments grouped together, or grouped according to Port or Starboard engines. I would imagine since there is no "law or standard" regarding instrument placement, you're free to install them to your preference. Hopefully other readers will share & post their comments...Do you have favorite brands for appliances, specifically, refrigerator and LP stove?
We have used and have had great service from propane appliances such as Dometic, Norcold, Wedgewood, are some of the most popular ones. Whatever appliances you install, be extremely smart and safe with propane, and install a propane sensor and control kit.
Better safe than sorry.I'm thinking to go with Raritan's head and Purasan waste treatment. Got another thought?
The Raritan and Purasan are a great combination, and others that are gaining popularity are the Marine Composting Toilet,
and the Electric SeaEra Raritan Head.Flooring- I like wood. How will laminate hold up?
There are some issues to consider before choosing a flooring material for your houseboat, since the marine environment, or houseboats for that matter can amplify certain conditions.
Conditions like high humidity, rain, water, sand, high traffic, rocking motion (can be slippery), are just a few of the things to look at before deciding whether you want wood, tiles, linoleum, carpet, etc... I also agree that wood looks great.Other thoughts you care to share?
The thoughts that I will share now are simply things that after a lifetime of boating, and a decade of living aboard a houseboat, I now realize are "options" that make life much easier or simply more comfortable. Sometimes it is easier to plan and build it in now before the walls and interior finishing is all done.
Things to possibly look at are an Electric Anchor (Windlass), Thermopump for Heating and Air Conditioning, Davit System for a Dinghy, Flybridge for Navigating, Patio Doors & Screens, Washdown Pumps, Bow Thruster, and a easy Ladder to get out of the water, are just a few things to think about. Just food for thought!
You will also find our Houseboat Parts and Accessories page
of interest to you since it's also a Reviews and Buyer's Guide.Lastly
, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their "no plan" houseboat building experiences and tips.
Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.
Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats
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