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Convert or add an RV travel trailer to simple cheap pontoon house boats?

by Mike

Convert a RV travel trailer to a pontoon houseboat - barge hull

Convert a RV travel trailer to a pontoon houseboat - barge hull

Is it possible make some pontoon house boats out of converting a travel trailer, to be like RV houseboat trailers?

Could it be as simple as adding pontoons to, or setting a travel trailer on top of pontoon houseboats, barge, or other type hull?

Thanks, Mike.

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Reply - Answer
Well Mike, I can see your idea behind adding a pre-made mobile home, or RV Trailer onto a barge style pontoon houseboat. It would definitely reduce the cost, difficulty, and building time.

Now, as to getting it all approved or certified by the Coast Guard, that you would have to make some inquiries on your end.

If you look into state laws regarding the approval, certification process of either a "floating home" or "self-propelled" houseboat status, do let us know. I'm sure that there's others that would like to know.

For further reading on the subject, there's been a previous article on the same subject, Anyone ever converted a RV Travel Trailer into a Houseboat?

I don't think that all of this will become a new trend for the houseboat building industry, but I can see the possibilities for someone who wants to have a floating home, base camp for fishing, anchored or moored in a bay, style of inexpensive pontoon houseboat. Do keep us posted.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their RV Trailer - Pontoon House Boats building experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found at the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing,IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Convert or add an RV travel trailer to simple cheap pontoon house boats?

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They did have this
by: Greg

Yes, back in the late 70's through early 80's, there was a company called "Camp-A-Float" that operated at several locations around the country.
We did the one at Lake Ouachita, AR.
They would position it on the pontoon boat so that all water hookups could be drained into tanks below the flatdeck that they would pump out upon return. Wheelhouse was outside port side. Had fuel tank and something like 25-30 horse outboard.
One of the most fun camping trips I ever had.
You can find remnants of it online looking up the company name, just to see what it kinda looked like.
Pretty sure they became uninsurable, or were regulated out of business,...or both..
Shame, really.

by: Carl M

There are no USCG regulation for these.
The USCG only has oversight regulations on Recreational boats that are Monohull boats under 20 ft.!!
All you need is the apropriate USCG navigational lighting.

by: Anonymous

I live in NC. I have seen travel trailers on lakes where there are alot of houseboats. This is accomplished by building a deck which is floated with huge pieces of foam wrapped in black plastic.The foam is not quite as big as the bed of a truck but close. I am sure different areas have different guidlines for these kinds of set ups.The tt simply floats on the foam dock. Most have a roof and porches added to make them look more pleasing. All in all seems like they function pretty well.

In re: regulations
by: josef faber

Mike, check with your state agency as each state has different requirements for anything afloat.

Most of the USCG requirements re: boatbuilding are aimed at commercial builders and concern various technical specifications.

For DIY builders, they have the common sense requirements for safety afloat.

When you draw up your plans, your local USCG might be able to look them over and give helpful suggestions. Their website has the regulations available for download at no cost.

They'd rather have you safe than have to fish you out of a dangerous situation!

Always a catch
by: Bob

Isn't it sad that the only thing that could stop a great idea is a government regulation? I don't mean to say we should put junk on the water but if someone has a seaworthy pontoon boat that will carry the weight of an RV, it would be a great little houseboat alternative.

Attention to balance would need to be considered using a ballast system of some sort. Waste would be handled just like a live aboard boat I would think. Propane, solar, extra batteries and a generator would be needed.

I always wondered if this would work and I'd love to see someone try it.

Turn an RV into floating home.
by: miss sue

Hi everyone, I want to buy a travel trailer and make it into a floating home. Cost is a factor. I don't have to move it so motors and engines are not important.

Does anyone know of photos or a website I can get information from? Please help if you can. Thanks, Sue

Drive on
by: Muley

Back in the late 70's Lake Havasu in Arizona had drive on pontoon flatboats so you could park your RV on them and motor around the lake. I've been looking all over and can't find any info now, they probably got regulated out of business somehow.

by: Anonymous

Not to change the subject but I'm looking for a motorhome that would convert into a boat. It was built in the early 80's by a company in the state of Arizona.

The boat was driven up on the back of the unit when secured it became a motorhome.They only built two I believe.

The company had a fire or something and then went out of business? I can't remember the name of the unit. Thank you

Pontoons boat for travel trailer / RV houseboat
by: Big D

A friend of mine once took a trip in a 24' motor home and said somewhere I believe in Tenn. or Kentucky on a lake there was a marina that rented drive-on pontoon boats.

Apparently you drove your RV onto it and it had a front deck with a covered patio and the outboard motor controls you could rent and cruise around the lake.

I have tried to search for it but apparently doesn't have a website. This seemed like a great way for a marina or RV park on a large body of water to earn more money.

The pontoon boat had a big enough outboard motor and gas tank to cruise for several days if you anchored part of the time. Wish I could find the place, Big D.

Cheap Houseboat - a lightweight inflatable boat
by: Greg Hood

For all of you boat loving people out there wanting to fish, relax, enjoy the sun and just being out on the water at a cheaper than normal price, you can't go past the new CamperCat.

You can build one in 2 weekends. It's trailerable, sleeps 4, has a toilet / shower, stove, table, everything you will need. CamperCat can be used in the ocean as well. A houseboat on a trailer for under $20 K, that's value

Cheap Houseboat Living - simple house boat plans
by: mark

When it comes to some cheap houseboat living, we have come up with some simple houseboat plans to build yourself an inexpensive boat.

We basically assume the houseboat will not be mobile but it will be movable to a another lake etc... and we build the floatation out of encapsulated foam floats which are all rated for what weight they can displace.

You have to closely estimate what your finished living quarters are going to weigh then build a wooden or metal support truss just like a dock, allowing for plumbing, electrical, sewer etc and if you need protection from low temps in winter.

Most of our customers have been using the houseboats (micro-houses) on small private lakes or large ponds and occasionally on lakes. We can't keep up, but there are just three of us building them and we're not interested in expansion, etc so we can only do so many in a year.

It's alot of fun and what we tell people is not to overbuild the boat size as it is usually the husband and wife or husband and fishing buddies who really use them 90% of the time.

I advise them to go rent a big one if they really have a large party to go once every few years if that. If we were on the coast it might be a different story as they can be towed anywhere on the lake and removed using a simple flatbed trailer.

Good luck everybody, Mark and Deb.....ks

USCG requirements for houseboats
by: Anonymous

JR, there are no USCG requirements other than navigation lighting.

Cheap houseboat ideas - trailer camper conversion
by: Chris Brooks

I just left my brothers shop and he wants to sell his 25' trailer camper. The first thing I thought of what to covert it to a pontoon.

First, I would have to waterproof the bottom because it's a light board type on the camper. Next would be adding a generator to pull 50 amps (I think). I see a market for it guys.

Chris, Macon, Ga

USCG requirements on building DIY houseboats
by: Fiesta pontoons

As a builder of pontoon boats let say that there is no USCG certifications to do what you are proposing. The USCG only certifies monohull boats Under 20 ft.

Pontoon boats are considered a multiple hull boat thusly no over sight by the USCG. I would check with the boat builder to see what they say a hull & deck assembly can carry.

converting an RV or travel trailer to a houseboat
by: Greg Hood

Hi Mike, I have designed a system to convert any travel trailer into a houseboat by using inflatable pontoons. They will take the weight no problems. I'll show you how.

It's a matter of welding some cross brackets to your trailer, then sliding in some cross bars and clipping on the pontoons and inflating them, and the wheels will be out of the water too.

Check out the Camper Cat, Greg.

Inflatable pontoon houseboat
by: Greg Hood

I have been building inflatable houseboats for 3 years. They are incredible. You can have a small houseboat able to sleep 4 adults , all on a trailer so you can take it to any lake or river you want.

I saw a converted RV into a pontoon houseboat.
by: scotty k.o.

I had that idea myself. I was looking for boats for sale and I came across one already made, it was a 32ft fifth wheel RV, converted into a pontoon houseboat.

All they did was weld three pontoons under the RV after cutting the wheels off. It was on the water when they posted the pictures of it.

But it is a great idea, a self-contained houseboat with generator and fresh water and grey water holding tanks. It also has a propane refrigerator and stove that converts into electric also to run them, or use the 120v AC.

You can hook up to the dock electric and water or anchor in the bay, they had a two horsepower motor to move it where they needed it.

RV Houseboat
by: Charles

It's been done. In the mid 1960's growing up in central Florida, we camped and boated on the St. Johns River out of Sanford Florida.

There was a party that had a houseboat made from a Spartan house trailer on some kind of barge. The boat was docked on Lake Monroe at Sanford.

Spartan's were built out of shiny aluminum, sort of like an Airstream. The roof and side wall structure was welded aluminum channel, so weight was minimal. They has a signature wrap-around front window made from plexiglass.

The wheelhouse was in the front of the trailer, and visiblity was excellent with that wrap around window. The trailer was 35 feet, and the barge must have been about 50 feet.

The barge was wide enough to allow a four foot walkway down each side of the trailer, so with the 8 foot width of the trailer, it must have been 16 feet wide.

The whole thing was powered by a couple of outboards, and moved along at 15 MPH. Pretty Cool.

Did Mike get an answer?
by: Anonymous

I've considered the same idea--putting an RV or mobile home on top of a floating foundation as either a floating home or houseboat.

I'd be willing to do some work on this if someone could point me to the Coast Guard requirements for such a structure/vessel.

Taking the idea even further, I want to construct modular homes using standard size shipping containers that can be place either on land or sea. Cargo ships and barges already act as a "floating foundation" for shipping containers, if you will.

All I would do is rough in the living systems (e.g. plumbing, electrical, hvac, etc) to make the thing a living compartment aboard a boat. Let me know what you all find out. JR

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