Course How To

Houseboat Trailers & Transport - Buy one, Rent one, or Hire one?

by Robert
(Cleveland, OH)

Houseboat Trailers - Hydraulic Flat Bed, Travel Lifts

Houseboat Trailers - Hydraulic Flat Bed, Travel Lifts

We're buying a houseboat, and wondering about houseboat trailers, do we buy one, rent one, or hire someone to transport it for us?

We're "newbies" when it comes to houseboats, but the previous boats I bought, usually came with it's own transport trailer. I see that houseboats don't come with them, so how do we go about transporting a houseboat?

Thanks for any help, Robert.

Advertise Houseboat Business Advertising
You can advertise here for pennies a day!
Are you a boating related business and want to
increase sales and profits with targeted traffic?
Act now to get our 1/2 price sale, limited offer

Reply - Answer
Well Robert, congratulations on purchasing a houseboat, and don't worry, "newbies" are more than welcomed. We all started somewhere, and there's a very helpful group of people here. :)

When it comes to moving a houseboat, it is generally cheaper in the long run to hire a professional boat mover. You can click here for a free quote for a good houseboat transport company.

Now about houseboat trailers, you're right, trailers usually come with smaller boats or pleasure craft. Unfortunately, with houseboats, because of their large sizes, and beam/widths, it would be rather expensive to include one with them all.

So depending on the size, most houseboats stay on the lakes and rivers where they are launched, and they generally travel anywhere by water, if possible.

Now if you were to buy a houseboat, and you want to have it transported "out of state", you would generally hire a transport company to move it to it's new location. We have a great article on houseboat transport tips and companies.

When it comes to Trailerable houseboats, and since they usually comes in sizes from 22ft to 30ft, they have their own custom fitted trailers, and can be pulled, or towed with most standard large vehicles.

When it comes to smaller pontoon houseboats, they have unique style trailers that have two long "fork like" arms, and they can used to lift the pontoon houseboat by using and supporting the cross-members between the pontoon cylinders.

When you want to move or trailer larger "full hull" style houseboats, they are generally lifted with either a hydraulic or electric Travel Lift (right hand side picture above), and are used to place houseboats onto transport trucks, or used to move/store boats around the boat yard.

The travel lift is driven to a special wharf dock area, where the houseboats can be driven in between the overhead structure, and large web straps or slings are precisely placed under the hull, then raised evenly and slowly.

Once raised, the travel lift is capable of slowly advancing on large balloon style wheels, to where the houseboat can be lowered onto a flat-bed transport trailer. (left hand picture above)

The house boat is usually blocked, and strapped down onto the transport truck trailer, ready to be hauled. The reverse procedure is used to launch the houseboat at its new location.

One last popular houseboat trailer method, is with large, long, high weight capacity, long arm hydraulic trailers, that can be used to haul out large house boats via the traditional "launch ramp" method.

They back these big hydraulic adjustable trailers into the water launch ramp area, and the houseboats are driven directly onto the carpeted pads located between the adjustable arms/forks.

Then with a fifth wheel style transport truck, they are capable of pulling the trailer & houseboat out of the water, and ready for hauling, maintenance, or repairs.

This concludes my attempt to use "words" to "visually describe" the different houseboat trailering methods possible and commonly found in many boat yards and marinas...

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat trailer & transport 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

More Information

If you're still looking for more information, you can use our search box, found at the top right hand corner.

Free Bonus Offer

To show our deep appreciation to all of our readers and visitors, here is the link to our free houseboat magazine, the INSIDER. Go ahead click the book and sign-up, it's free and filled with great articles, tips, information and website updates.

free Houseboat Magazine - The Houseboat Insider

Comments for Houseboat Trailers & Transport - Buy one, Rent one, or Hire one?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Ray I'd love your recommendation!
by: Daniel

Replying to Ray about your recommendation for a professional boat mover. I've got a large 43'Nautaline in need of a move and I'm in Northern California. I have no idea how old your original post was but if you're still out there, I'd love to get in touch with your guy. Thanks!

Need transport...or buy a trailer
by: Jeff Yarbrough

I need to transport a 52' houseboat about 12 miles to my house.
Also need to pull out a 36' Gibson for some dry dock repairs. Percy Priest Lake, Nashville area.
Jeff Yarbrough

Lake hopping
by: Berry Spivey

For a 42 houseboat with trailer... is it stressful on the boat to move it lake to lake along our west coast hot spots??

Need to rent a trailer for a 10 x 42 foot pontoon houseboat
by: Joy

I am looking at purchasing a 10 x 42 ft pontoon houseboat. If the purchase works out I will need to move boat from Norris Lake to Watts Bar lake or Fort Loudon Lake in East Tn. I would need the boat trailer to rent for the move.

35' pontoon house boat trailer for hire
by: Anonymous

I am looking to hire someone to pull out a 35-foot pontoon houseboat. We are located in the Midwest Tennessee area.

Thank you,

Houseboat trailer
by: George Grames

Purchase price for 75 ft houseboat trailer

Need to move houseboat
by: Butch

I need to move a 50' x 12' houseboat from Albany, Ky to Cloverdale, In. I would like to find a trailer to buy, as the boat would have to be pulled out in the winter. The boat itself needs work, so if the cost is too high it might not be worth it. I'm looking for ideas.

Tralier needed
by: Anonymous

Looking to rent a trailer big enough to move a 11' wide by 32' long houseboat.

Help, need to move a boat
by: Anonymous

Need to rent a trailer to move a 50' boat in Southern Colorado

Need trailer to pull 36' Houseboat to look at BOTTOM.
by: Phyllis and Wayne

We are docked at Lake Monroe, Bloomington Indiana. We are selling our boat maybe, not sure but still need to pull our houseboat out of water just on ramp to look at bottom. Put right back in.

Can we find used trailer to buy or someone close to to it or rent us the trailer.

It is a fortune here to have bottom painted. Any ideas on reasonable cost effective way.

Thanks for any help, Phyllis.

by: Johnny Cline

We had you haul houseboat from Patoka Lake to Southern Il few years ago. Very pleased w service. Was needing contact number needing speak with you.

We discussed prints using regular mobile home trailer. Got frames now, and starthed on trailer. you mentioned had print available I could get from you. Thank, Johnny Cline

by: Rake

Is it really possible to rent a houseboat trailer? Now I get how these big things are transported over different places where it is bit hard to travel around through the waterways itself. And would be its so costlier than the usual boat trailers.

Houseboat trailer / move
by: Eric Kelsheimer

My wife and I just bought a Kayot 12'x 45' houseboat. It was floating on Lake Monroe, In. The houseboat was sold with a trailer. The trailer was home made from a mobile home frame with three axles under it.

The trailer had mis-matched tires under it and some of the decking was bent and boards missing or damaged. In fact our first attempt to move the boat ended in us bringing the trailer home to make repairs!

Repairs made tires changed with spares in the truck we drove the 70 or so miles to pick up the houseboat.

The trip was uneventful with the exception of the deer that committed suicide into the side of my little brothers truck, under the duals followed by a cartwheeled fling off of the trailer onto the side of the road. No hope for the deer which was killed instantly.

We arrived at Monroe lake where I fired up the boat and headed for the loading ramp. The day before was very windy but the day of our haul out was very calm. One thing I will tell you is that even on a relatively calm day the wide side of a houseboat collects a lot of energy from the wind. Which we found out as soon as we tried to load the houseboat on the trailer for the first time.

After several attempts we finally did get the boat lined up on the trailer reasonably straight well within acceptable limits but it took several tries with just a slight breeze.

With DOT wide load permit in hand we hauled the boat home along our designated route without incident. My brothers truck is a 2013 Ford F 450 with a V 10 diesel in it. The boats weight when new and empty is rated at 10540 lbs. His truck handled the load with ease. So moving a houseboat this size is doable if you have the inclination to do so.

I will add that we intend to replace all the axles with new ones with brakes, as well as new decking on the trailer with bunks for the pontoons to nest into. The houseboat will be reworked so that everything is in working order.

As it stands now the stove and oven are not hooked up the hot water heater is disconnected as well as all the LP gas lines. So all that will have to be reworked. If interested I will post pictures of our progress.


Farm or OTR tractor?
by: Anonymous

Let's say we live up north, (Canadian Border) and we have a
40' Holiday Mansion, and need trailer to put in and out of the water, towed only a few miles, and possibly
with a farm tractor, or OTR tractor…

What would you do...?

Thank You

Houseboat Trailer
by: Big Al

I recently purchased a 36 x 12 Sea Rover in Tavares Florida.

The Boat is on a lake with no facilities for lifting a boat this size. After purchasing the boat, we attempted to make arrangements to have it moved 40 miles to our place of business.

The prices we were quoted bordered on insanity. The least expensive hauler wanted $4000 and we had to do it at his convenience. We also had to pay $1000 to hire a crane to lift the boat out of the water, $5000 to move a boat 40 miles and that does not count having to put it back in after refitting is complete.

The solution we came up with is we found a very large boat trailer (18,000 GVW) used for $1000 and we modfied it to accomidate the houseboat and have found a boat ramp on the lake that is large enough to facilitate float loading a boat of this size.

The only other expense we have is a couple of flashig lights, a banner and oversized load permit. The best part is that when we are done, we will be able to refloat the boat ourselves and will still own the trailer for future use.

What you have to consider here is that I have years of experience in the trucking business and I am also a halfway handy metal fabricator. That being said, I believe you can usually do anything if you put your mind to it.

Houseboat Transport - moved my 45 ft houseboat 400 miles
by: Ray

I would like to recommend Cameron Marine Transport out of Murphysboro, IL. These guys are great. They treat your boat like it was theirs. Transporting boats is all they do.

They hauled my 45+'er boat over 400 miles and some were two lane and through small towns. He does not like backing his trailer in the water though. Too hard on the bearings. This is understandable.

So a travel lift or other means of unloading should be available at the destination. Hope this helps someone.

Houseboat Trailers - moving my houseboat
by: Anthony

I was given a 50ft Gibson but it needs a lot of work. I need to move it 10 or 12 miles to my house to work on it. It's not going to be easy as the trailers are so expensive to rent, I want to move the boat, but cant find a rental company that I can afford? Any suggestions.

Reply - Answer
Hi Anthony, just a word of wisdom. If you are having a hard time affording moving a boat that was given to you, you should seriously read this article about receiving free houseboats.

Massive repair jobs or major rebuilding of houseboats can get very very expensive.

Just my thoughts, IAN from

Houseboat Movers in the Nashville area?
by: George

Does anyone know a good houseboat mover in the Nashville area. I just bougth a 42X12 Gibson and need to move it to Chattanooga.

Houseboat Transport Recommendation
by: Kristi Cash

We used Fred with River Cities Marine and they did a great job for a great price. They hauled our 38' Holiday Mansion from TN to WV on a hydraulic trailer so we could water load and launch. They removed the flybridge too and reinstalled it. AWESOME JOB!!!!

Boat Transporters - good houseboat movers
by: Ray

Just would like to add that anyone can feel free to contact me for the info on the transport company that hauled my 45'er, (actually 47'er)

The boat also was 14'8" high from the ground. Just cleared a few overpasses by scant inches. They move boats of all sizes nation wide and have been in all 49 NA states, (not 57).

Jerry is a great guy and he can do things with that rig I didn't think were possible all the while extremely mindful of what he is hauling.

Houseboat Transport - hire the movers and Pro's.
by: Ray

For houseboats that require more than just a heavy duty pick up truck to pull, I would highly recommend hiring a professional marine transporter. Not just someone who has a semi, but one who solely specializes in moving boats of larger size.

They have the expertise, experience, insurance, permits and road savvy to cope with any problems along the way, (and there will always be some).

You may have to skimp somewhere else but believe me, it will be money well spent. I just had my 45x15 houseboat moved over 400 miles on busy Interstate roads. I was glad every mile of the way that it was them and not me or "cousin bubba" pulling that boat.

Word of caution, do not settle for the lowest price if you value your boat at all. You get what you pay for. Check for recommendations or any negative comments about who you hire to move your treasured baby.

Bought a houseboat trailer
by: rick

I just bought a houseboat trailer for my 42 ft Gibson from EMI Transport in Dale Indiana. The boat trailers cost 100$ per foot and its a great trailer for taking it in and out of the water. It is very sturdy and very reasonable. Rick.

Houseboat Trailer?
by: Clint

Where can I buy a trailer for my 42 x 12 houseboat?

houseboat trailers
by: Leslie

I have a 1962 10ft x 40ft Kayot houseboat that has a trailer, and my brother-in-laws boat is 12 ft x 40 ft with a trailer too. We pay $67.00 a year for a Butte Co. moving permit without pilot cars.

Yep, we move the boats ourselves ( I have a Ford F250, he has a Dodge 2500) from storage and launch at Lake Oroville, Ca. So there are trailers for some houseboats.

Reply - Answer
Thanks Leslie for sharing that information about your houseboat trailer experiences.

IAN from

Me Too!
by: Anonymous

Just bought a 37' Brighton fiberglass hull, twin v8 inboard, and bought in on a body of water with a travel lift- used to set it on a semi trailer, 2.5K, saved us during the flood- land house being rebuilt - soon winter and no travel lifts on this lake.

Not too smart but solvable- would really like to take this thing anywhere- retired- She is a big big girl I can't imagine a do it yourself trailer. But it would save me huge bucks in transportation. What does a properly equipped slip on non freezing Mississippi river run per month. A still happy newbie.

Universal Houseboat Trailer
by: Jerry

I am looking for a Universal Houseboat Trailer, for service purposes only.
Anyone with information on this would be a big help. Thanks, Jerry, TN.

Reply - Answer
Well Jerry, to help you find a universal houseboat trailer, I have added a link below for all the certified boat trailer manufacturers. I hope this helps.

Thanks for commenting, IAN - from

Boat Lift
by: WALT

Any insights for using boat lift to store 36 foot Gibson Houseboat for example: how long should boat lift bunks be and where bunks be located under boat?

Houseboat Transport - moving a steel houseboat
by: sue

I need to move a 34 foot steel hull houseboat. It is currently dry docked, and needs some work. I am at a loss as to how to move it.

It is at a marina that closed up. I can't work on it where it is, so I need to move it, so I can paint it, and do some other updates to it.

I would like to buy a trailer for it, but once it is fixed up I am putting it back in the water. It weighs 6 tons.

Houseboat Trailer - moving and storage fees
by: greg

I bought our 40ft pontoon houseboat in Burlington, IA. and pulled it home to Carlyle, IL. with my 3/4 ton Chevy. I put it in and out of the water with that truck too. $18/mo at storage v. who knows what for a slip, but this way I know it won't sink on its trailer! AND WE LOVE IT!!! About ready to move up to a 50 or 60 footer.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Houseboat Parts and Accessories Reviews.

Continue Reading Our Popular Pages

Our collection of houseboat ebooks

Ebook Boats Collection on Houseboat Books

We just love houseboats, do you?
Join our monthly HB Insider for free

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.