Seattle Floating Homes Don’t Usually Move
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 firstname.lastname@example.org– Courtney
Can You Move A Floating Home?
The Big Move: Moving A Seattle Dilapidated Houseboat And Bringing In A New One…
The old Houseboat # O on the 2017 Dock
Seattle floating homes are moored “permanently” to the docks they are on, but from time to time, it is necessary to move out dilapidated houseboats and bring in new ones or a recycled one in this case. This is an amazing set of pictures from an event that doesn’t happen very often.
The Tug boat doing all the moving
Jann McFarland wrote a great article in the Floating Homes Association Spring 2010 Newsletter about this particular move and one of the floating homes owner on the dock was kind enough to share her photos and give me permission to publish them here (Thank you Carole!). Both Carole and I thought it was a nice piece of houseboat history and worth sharing.
This particular houseboat move took place on 2017 Fairview Ave E on one of the Log Foundation co-op docks. It was in October of 2009 and according to Jann’s article it took almost two years to get the proper permits in place to make this feat happen.
Houseboat O’s Lake Union moorage slip is not at the end of the dock or even near the end of the dock. In addition, the channel between that dock and the next dock over isn’t wide enough to bring an entire houseboat in or out so how do they do it?
Moving the houseboats out to the lake
Very carefully with lots of planning and cooperation from many involved.
Tugboat pushing in the replacement houseboat
Last one to be moved out before Houseboat O
It is more than just moving the floating homes in or out. There are permits, contracts, utilities, insurance, and more, plus you have to get all of the owners on board on the same day for the move.
One by one, the floating homes on the dock are moved out to make a wide channel to bring the old home out and the new one in. It was an all day event and involved many people coordinating their efforts.
The tug boat moved each of the floating homes on the North side of the 2017 dock out to the lake and rafted them together while the replacement houseboat was brought in. The dock got a recycled Portage Bay floating home and brought it in place of the older houseboat being taken out.
The newer houseboat O was brought in and fixed up and it sold in less than a month for full price at $475,000 – quite a bargain actually for the size, condition, and location. The Log Foundation Co-op is a group of Seattle floating homes owners that cooperatively own the three South most docks on Fairview Ave E in Eastlake. It is a great houseboat community and worth a look if you are interested in living on a Seattle houseboat. Currently there are three Seattle houseboats for sale on the Log Foundation docks – they range in price from $495,000 to $749,000.
*Thanks to Carole Nielson for the photographs and permission to use.
More Out in the Lake