Real estate idea I'd like to float by y'all

Back when My Beloved and I bought our little house we paid under $100 thou for it. Over the years house prices in our neighborhood have skyrocketed, and our recent assessments have us paying taxes on a tiny little house worth more than three and a half times what we originally paid. We want to move into a larger place(our current abode is under 1000 sq. ft.) where we could entertain friends and have relatives stay for a visit. For a while it looked like we would have to move out of Portland to accomplish this, but we found a place in town that seems to fulfill our needs: 2625 sq. ft., three stories, three large bedrooms, three full baths(jetted tub in master bedroom), hardwood floors and lots of room to entertain, and it only costs 2/3 of what we could sell our home for. The “but”?
It’s a houseboat.
What are the plusses and minuses when it comes to houseboats? What should I look for, and what should I ask about?

First question is age and construction of houseboat. The maintenance can be a lot harder on a houseboat than a house. Newer and not wooden hull are my first thought.
How are the storms in the Portland area. I would be afraid of big storms here on the East Coast.
Does it have a good back up generator?

Built in 1980, wood inside, vinyl exterior. Here is the listing I found.

First thing that caught my eye is, “Slip not included”

How much is the slip, and how expensive/possible is it to move the houseboat if you should want to?

I’m guessing you’ll need SCUBA gear to perform preventive maintenance underneath … any idea how it performed during the floods of 1996? … how much will the slip cost? …

Obviously you’ve fallen in love with the place … so just buy it … looks like a little bit of a city park across the street … and you’ll be able to take Springers without a tag …

It looks to me more like a floating house than a houseboat. How deep is the water there? How is it secured?

We lived aboard 2 different sailboats in different places at different times of our lives, and the big differences we dealt with compared to living on land:

The cold - I would hope a houseboat is reasonably insulated, but you’re still in/on the water and in the winter, it can be mighty chilly

What are the fresh water/sewage hook-ups like? Electric power? Is it connected a conventional house would be? Most boats rely on hoses and power cords going from the dock to the boat.

The marina itself - one place we lived aboard was on a fairly busy river, which resulted in a lot of rocking on weekends as boaters went by. Not everyone respects no-wake zones.

And a biggie - how prepared are you to deal with problems that are peculiar to a boat? What will you do to keep your house from sinking? How is the house affected by rough weather? What is the tidal range? Any peculiar maintenance requirements?

I’d also recommend an inspection by someone who knows about these types of houses. Good luck!

Three (3) stories sounds tall to me, windage problems. Bottom paint is needed every three or four years, scuba diver can help with scum, but sooner or later it will need to be hauled out. No yard is cool …

What about where is it moored, achor or harbor or marina? Insurance might be higher … does it have to be towed or does it have a motor? Ask if you can spend the night first before buying. Fog horns, lights, sounds whistles, passing ships and even the sounds of other party boats can be annoying.

I sold sailboats for years and I know the dreamers and I know the lookee lou’s … do you have to sell your home first that might be a problem …

Thanks for all the replies. You’ve given me a lot to look into.

I’m no expert, but my biggest concern is appreciation, or lack thereof. Your current house has more than tripled in value, a “profit” of hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t see a houseboat doing anything but depreciating, leaving you eventually with a worn out houseboat and no equity to use to buy a new home.

Looking at some other listings, it looks like slip cost is another $200K+, and HOA fees are around $600/month.

another thought, does it have engines or something else to move it around? Thats another system/maintenance challenge that a normal house would not have as well.

If not I question the term houseboat and would call it a “house-barge”

Looks like less of a great deal with every post. Oh, well.

I’m pretty sure that the floating homes like this that are common in the PDX and Seattle area can’t be hauled out. They’re not built on a boat-like platform, but rather they rest on a system of pontoons or floats. Those don’t get scrubbed or painted, but replaced at the end of their lifetime. When I’ve seen that done, it’s a one at a time operation that’s done in place as these houses aren’t designed to be moved other than in specific, critical situations.

Here’s an Oregonian article that hits some of the high points.

Me personally, just looking at the pictures, I’m a little concerned that the condition of the exterior is not up to par with the interior. Raises some concern that they’ve deferred some of the exterior maintenance which could lead to big issues not far down the road.

All that aside, I’ve had friends that lived on floating homes in the Seattle area that loved the experience and wouldn’t trade for a ‘traditional’ home. I’ve always thought the concept was cool, but realize that you trade one set of issues for another. It’s cheaper for a reason.

The commonly used term for this case is “floating home”. It’s not designed to move. They can be towed to a new slip if necessary, but it’s not slam-dunk easy. There are many of these in the Seattle and Portland areas, built not out of a love of boats, but originally as a property tax dodge. Better constructed ones sit atop prefab floats tied together. Some even to this day sit on bundles of logs!

A friend of mine lives on her houseboat 1/3rd of the year. When I told her how jealous I was, she told me that a houseboat combines the worst parts of boating with the worst parts of home-owning.

This is what I was thinking - sort of like buying a floating trailer home.

Were you going to sail the houseboat anywhere, or just live in it? If just live in it, the engine and related equipment is just wasted space and added expense.


If the slip is not included where would you put it? It must be movable, or it would come with a slip, I should think.

But how easy is it to find a slip? I mean, beyond the cost, you could end up with very few available choices. Especially as it’s not small.

That is an amazing jump in house size from where you are. I also live in under a thousand square feet and can’t imagine that much of a change. It’s remarkable to consider!

Good Luck!

Is the place infested with nutria?

At first glance, I thought there were chains in one room. I was a little taken aback!

I think you’ve gotten excellent advice in this thread.

Yep. Craziest idea I’ve heard in a month of Sundays. Sorry, Dude. It would have been cool.

Nice thread title, though. :wink: