Most Seattle houseboats move around to different docks more frequently than Seattle floating homes do. There are a few Seattle houseboats that are hooked up to city sewer, but the others have black water tanks and can be mobile. Seattle floating homes on the other hand are far less mobile and don’t usually move around. We have seen just a couple dozen or so moved in the last decade and a half. This morning, the Gold Coast of Portage Bay was treated to an incredible show as Fremont Tug adeptly maneuvered a very large float up a very narrow channel.
Seattle floating homes usually remain where they are moored these days, although they used to move around more before we were hooked up to sewer in the 1960s. Back then, most of the floating homes were on leased docks and they moved around depending on the moorage rate or where there was space. These days most of our docks have been converted to cooperative or condo and so our homes stay put.
So when and why do Seattle Floating Homes move?
There are lots of reasons why Seattle floating homes can be moved, but it still does not occur often. Basically it’s the four R’s: Repairs, Reconstruction, Replacement, Relocation. Repairs and reconstruction can be done on site without moving the home and usually they are, but sometimes the logistics of contractors parking, loading, and going up and down docks is just too disruptive when compared to moving the home out to a dedicated waterside work yard. If a repair is major enough then it needs to be moved to a “shipyard” to work on more extensive fixes. Reconstruction would be when someone wants to take the current home down to the float and rebuild or make a huge change to the outer shell.
Replacement is when you take the existing old dilapidated houseboat and float and replace with a new one of the same footprint. That has happened quite a bit over the last decade and beyond. It’s getting hard to find really great historical floating homes that haven’t been destroyed. The city has a “net zero” policy currently so if you bring a new one in, then you have to take an old one out.
Lastly relocation. This happens when a floating home owner wants or needs to change locations. Usually this happens when their floating home is in a leased slip and they would like to either move to a different leased slip or buy a slip to put their home in. In addition if a floating home owner is not paying their moorage rent then they are subject to eviction. Floating home owners who wish to relocate their homes, must pay for the logistics of doing so which involves unhooking and rehooking and moving in and and out all of their neighbors. Then they must do the same for the new dock. It can cost upwards of $75,000 depending on the specific details. Slips for floating homes currently begin at $600,000 and go up to $2M depending on dock position and location. Usually you have to find a dilapidated floating home in a coop or condo owned slip and then buy it with the intention of demolishing the old one and replacing it with your relocated home. They have to be similar in size and you are not allowed to occupy a larger footprint than the current one you are going to demolish. This may require cutting down your floating home to a size that matches. This is just the tip of the iceberg on the process, but you get the idea. They don’t move often.
Are You Interested in Learning More About Seattle Floating Homes?
If you are interested in living on the lake…. Choose someone who lives in the community.
Yes! I live in a floating home full time and I am a Realtor who specializes in them. I have spent years protecting and loving this special place we call home. Because of this I am organically networked into the community versus a broker who doesn’t live in Seattle or currently on a dock. I am on the board for the Floating Homes Association and also for the dock I live on. You need a specialist. Email, Call or text me anytime. 206-850-8841 [email protected]– Courtney