Older Sumerset Houseboat - tips to rebuild and remodel houseboats?

by Tracy
(Lewisville, TX, USA)

Sumerset Houseboat - an older Sumerset before the rebuild

Sumerset Houseboat - an older Sumerset before the rebuild

As an older Sumerset houseboat owner, I'm looking to rebuild and remodel her and looking for any tips or information?

Here is our story and I will make it as short as I can. Three years we got out of law enforcement to enjoy an easier life driving a truck.

Then last summer we purchased a 13 'x 53', 1978 Sumerset houseboat from a salvage yard as a project. Our goal is to get it rebuilt and when we are done driving we plan on living aboard.

I have done some reading on here and a lot of questions have been answered, so thank you to everyone who has contributed. I am sure over the next year I will have a LOT of questions!

As things stand now, the lower part of the boat will contain the kitchen, dinette, bunk beds, bathroom and stateroom. This part we have pretty much dried in. We have the plywood floor, walls and roof up right now. Just the plywood.

Our next project come mid March is to join the top level, consisting of the living room and the helm with the bottom level. From there we are left to figure out what we are going to do with the exterior. I read a post on here that we can get Filon Siding at an RV Wholesaler.

Do you know if we can get that in large pieces and cut to what we need? For instance, the lower level needs siding in an area of approx 4'6"x24' on both sides.

The freshwater tank will go under the king bed in the stateroom and the gray water tank will go under the bottom bunk bed. We are not installing anything propane and will not have a stove. We will use an electric skillet or cook out on the grill on the deck.

One thing we aren't sure of is how we wire the boat for 120 and DC power. Also, since we will be needing a generator can you advise what size generator we would need and the cost involved? What about new vs a rebuilt generator?

Motors. The boat originally had one inboard motor. I am imagining that is enough to move it around. Would we be fine with putting a new inboard motor in or do you think two outboards would be better.

I have also read about the thrusters and those seem like we would definitely need those, or at least one, up front. We also read about the heat/ac and will be looking into that.

Would it be a good idea to have a separate waste tank for just kitchen and shower water that could be ran out to the lake? Or would that depend on the rules of the lake. If that can be done, any suggestions on types of pumps to use for something like that?

Also, we are having the hull fixed and they also suggested covering the bottom with Rhinoliner. Has anyone ever heard of that on the bottom of a boat?

In theory, it makes sense, I mean more people run a houseboat on shore and the Rhinoliner would make it practically indestructible. We don't have any plans on going on shore like that, but it couldn't hurt to have the added protection, could it? 

I think that is all for now. But I know I will be back with more questions. I appreciate any suggestions and help!

Thanks for any help, Tracy, Lewisville, TX, USA

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Reply - Answer
Well Tracy, congratulations on undertaking the houseboat project, and glad to see that you have chosen a simpler lifestyle :)

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments with tips and information on their houseboat rebuilding experiences.

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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Comments for Older Sumerset Houseboat - tips to rebuild and remodel houseboats?

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Electrical Refit
by: Pat

When refitting the electrical, install an "Isolation Transformer" in your shore power connection. Every boat should have one, sadly few do.

This keeps your boat electrically isolated from the shore but allows power transfer to your boat. This helps reduce the chance of "Electric Shock Drowning" by removing your boat as a path for current flow from a fault on someone else's boat.

Essentially yours becomes an island in a sea of electricity.

Best of luck on refit, P.

Looking for boat salvage yard
by: jESSIE

Hi Tracy, I am glad I stumbled on your question. I hope your boat fixing has turned out well. I am about to purchase some land that I can really put anything and came up with the idea of living in a recycled/salvaged large ship or yacht or house boat ON LAND.

That is the kicker. I think I can really repair anything as long as it has electricity and a kitchen, etc. What salvage place did you get your boat at?

I am really looking for one. I hope it was a great deal. We live in Denton, Tx and you are close, so I was hoping for some help. Thanks!

Insurance for houseboats
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the link Old Houseboater! As we have already purchased it, we are going to forge ahead. There are two spots on the hull that are good size holes, but other than those two, it is in decent shape for its age. The previous owner, from what we heard, had kidney failure and the boat was basically abandoned.

The marina it was at then turned it over to the salvage yard where it has been for several years. We will certainly check with our insurance company about the potential insurance problems with the houseboat before we get too invested. I appreciate the advice as we will take any we can get!

Project houseboats
by: Old Houseboater

I really hate to do this but the reason the house boat was in a salvage yard is because it was junk. It is not a good idea to rebuild a steel hulled boat. Insurance is almost impossible to get and when your done there is no value and no market.

Please read this article below:

Newbie Houseboat Warning - money saving tips on buying houseboats

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