Floating house architecture: 5 incredible floating homes – Architecture and Design

What are floating homes?
Think of a floating home like a condo, but rather than a unit in a building, it’s a unit on the water with HOA dues paid to maintain the dock and slip. Floating homes are permanently connected to sewer, water and electrical, built and moved into place just once.

Are they different from a houseboat?

People use the term “houseboat” loosely to describe both a mobile vessel and a moored residence, but there is a distinction. Homes that are permanently docked on the water are called floating homes. They are berthed indefinitely, and connected to city water and sewer. Houseboats and floating architecture alike, like barges and boats, are free to roam, and dock where permitted.

How big are they? 

Floating homes can be as big or tiny as need bee, the floating mechanism just needs to match the size of the house. That’s basically it—good old-fashioned engineering.

How do they work?

Generally there are two basic principles for making floating houses. First is the pontoon principle in which one makes a solid platform, lighter than the water and the other based on the ship in which a hollow concrete box is created which is open on the top.

The pontoon principle has the benefit of its use in shallow water, compared to the hollow concrete box while the concrete box has the benefit of higher space utilisation within as a part of the building. Both type of floating houses are connected with a flexible connection to the quay, so the houses can rise with the water when the tide changes.

When needed the floating system can be moved elsewhere at short notice without leaving any scar to the environment. Instead a new house can be placed in to the old situation which makes it the most sustainable and durable way to build. The floating houses built by +31architects are based on the hollow concrete box.

Are they docked?

All floating homes have to be docked somewhere and moorage facilities have maintenance fees, which include electricity, water, sewer and garbage, this is Australia-wide.

You can rent a slip – a water lot – or buy into a homeowners association moorage and pay taxes, insurance and real property costs such as maintaining the docks and common areas.

Can you buy a floating house?

Real estate agent Graham Marden of Berkshire Hathaway Northwest Real Estate has been selling floating homes – he does not rent them – for 20 years. 
His clients appreciate the ever-changing scenery, sometimes even towing their house around rivers and states to a new dock.

Unlike landlocked homes, river dwellers can open up their windows, drop a fishing line and catch dinner, Marden jokes. There’s no closer view of wildlife in the water and in the air, and friends you barely knew want to spend weekends visiting you on your scenic deck.

After sinking during the recession and housing bubble, the floating real estate market is rising again, just like homes on terra firma.

Total sales of floating houses in the Portland Metro area jumped from 45 in 2012 to 53 in 2013 and 67 in 2014, says Marden, who predicts 75 to 80 total sales this year.

In Australia, they are quite popular in Palm Beach and styles or ‘typeese’ that are highly sought after include, modular, prefabricated and sustainable floating houses.

How much do they cost? 

Small floating homes can sell for as little as $200,000, but that’s unusual. Prices can range wildly. Last year, a modern, four-story floating home sold for $2.8 million. More typical, however, is a 1,000-square-foot, two bedroom she is currently listing for $350,000.

How are they made?

In the types of floating homes that are built right now, there are [two building options]. All floating homes now are built with concrete floats. In one, the concrete works as a giant floatation device with Styrofoam inside it, where the Styrofoam is floating and the concrete is forming an upside-down bowl over the Styrofoam. 

The Styrofoam does lose some of its buoyancy over time, and then the only recourse is to put barrels underneath. The other option is that the concrete float ends up floating because it’s displacing water. It’s a bowl filled with a void. This decision impacts how you’re going to build it and the whole process after that. 

In the latter scenario, you have to keep water out of the float or it will sink. Unlike a house, where you’re on dry land and you might have damp soil that’s trying to work its way through your concrete foundation, here you have massive amounts of water pressure looking for any crack to power water into your displaced cavity. You have to use water-proofing measures [to prevent this].

There’s a fundamental difference between whether the home is built on land or built in water. Building in the water is much more popular, but you can’t use a plumb bob or level because it’s moving all the time.

It’s a real challenge to build a house when you can’t use any of the tools we [typically] use for building. If you build on land, however, you have to use gigantic travel mechanisms to transport it. You’re dropping it in the water and keeping your fingers crossed that it’s going to work out like you want. 

What fees and taxes are associated with a floating house?

Unfortunately, in this day and age, there’s a cost to everything, including living mainly on the water. Further, you may find it difficult to find dock space if you’re planning on just buying a floating home that is not mobile.

Real estate openings can be quite scarce on the water as well, so there are fewer “neighborhoods” to choose from and less inventory to consider when buying a floating home.
Floating homes can also rack up quite the monthly bill between mooring fees and monthly electricity, water, sewage, and other utilities. Think about it as your house or RV, floating on the dock of the bay.

Tax rules vary widely from state to state, county to county, or even lake to lake, so it’s wise to do plenty of research before deciding to buy that quarter million-dollar floating home. In Nevada, for example, houseboats and floating homes aren’t subject to property taxes since the State believes you pay enough for the sale (there’s heavy sales tax on houseboats and floating homes) and anchoring space on the dock.

Remember that IRS, Federal, State, and County laws change all the time. The best advice is to talk with your Realtor or real estate agent about the various taxes and fees that may come along with floating home ownership.

Be aware that the moorage slip fee you pay per month can increase quite dramatically, just like rent. Be prepared to go without storage or close parking spaces, and to deal with potentially treacherous conditions during fall and winter, depending upon where you live.

5. Wooden House


Designed by Milan Ridky, the use of stainless-steel beams and wood paneling help to regulate the climate inside this houseboat and allow for beautiful views without excess amounts of sun getting in.

4. River Thames, Garden House


This houseboat by MAA Architects floats on the River Thames but also has gardens and a garage on the land behind it. It is for sale, and is almost completed but has purposely been left unfinished, so the new owners can complete it to their own taste.
The houseboat comes with a rare freehold mooring (125 ft river frontage) and beautiful landscaped gardens of approximately half an acre as well as a garage and summerhouse.

3. Solar Resort


Do you dream of going to a paradise island? Excellent idea. But if the island of your dreams came to you, it would be even better, wouldn’t it? This is precisely the concept imagined by designer Michele Puzzolante. Its Solar floating resort is a futuristic, round-shaped yacht characterized by its solar-powered propulsion system. Thanks to the use of photovoltaic panels arranged on the roof of the boat, this eco-futuristic yacht. Casually, this motorized island measures 110 meters in diameter and is designed to accommodate 6 people in exceptional comfort conditions.

2. Washington, Portage Bay floating home


Dubai developer Kleindienst Group revealed the visually stunning renderings for “The Floating Seahorse” at the Dubai International Boat Show in March 2015. They say they’ll build 42 of the structures, which are essentially boats without the propulsion, and plan to have them completed by the end of 2016. The floating properties were designed and engineered to be part of “The World,” Dubai’s large artificial island project.
The buoyant structures will have three levels: an upper deck, a main floor at sea level, and an underwater level. The master bedroom and bathroom will be completely submerged, with panoramic underwater views.

1.Dubai, ‘The Floating Seahorse’


Dubai developer Kleindienst Group revealed the visually stunning renderings for “The Floating Seahorse” at the Dubai International Boat Show in March 2015. They say they’ll build 42 of the structures, which are essentially boats without the propulsion, and plan to have them completed by the end of 2016. The floating properties were designed and engineered to be part of “The World,” Dubai’s large artificial island project.
The buoyant structures will have three levels: an upper deck, a main floor at sea level, and an underwater level. The master bedroom and bathroom will be completely submerged, with panoramic underwater views.

Source: https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/features/list/floating-house-architecture-5-incredible-floating

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