Floating Homes

floating house
Allen Sheffield / Flickr (Creative Commons)

Starting around 18,000 years ago, when the last ice age began receding, sea level has risen by about 400 feet. The National Climate Assessment forecasts a rise of up to 4 feet by 2100. Floating home living may soon be a necessity.

There are two types of floating homes:

  • Permanently-floating homes in lakes and other waterways.
  • Homes that float only when flood waters swell, but sit on the ground during the dry season.

Requiring the latter on new construction within floodplains, and considering same for threatened shorelines, is one way to plan for the future. Although floating homes near the coast need protected waters, wave walls and dykes (as used in Europe) are a future possibility. Inaction is costly. Some inspiration for those on the water:

Lake Huron, Great Lakes


Lake Huron’s water levels vary dramatically from month-to-month, year-to-year. MOS Architects mos-office.net, Photo by Florian Holzherr.

floating home

House was built on a steel platform structure with steel pontoons. mos-office.net Photo by Florian Holzherr.

On The Mississippi

floating home

The easiest homemade solution, foam blocks under your home. The 4 guide posts keep the house in place as it rises, just like a floating dock. Dr. Elizabeth English of the Buoyant Foundation explains the necessity of buoyant homes. A steel frame that holds the flotation blocks is attached to the underside of the house. There are four ‘vertical guidance’ poles not far from the corners of the house. The tops of the poles are attached to the steel frame. The poles telescope out of the ground, allowing the house to move up and down. Please visit buoyantfoundation.org for more information.


Intrigued? Check out eBay’s houseboat auctions page

You never know what’ll pop up here. Sometimes it’s boats that don’t look like floating homes at all, other times a legitimate house boat will come up. Worth checking back if only to indulge your dreams.

Or do some research in case the perfect home ever floats your way:

The Float House

floating house

Designed by Morphosis Architects and students from UCLA collects its own water, generates its own electricity, and is capable of floating as high as 12 feet on rising flood waters. Flotation is made possibly by a single unit of expanded polystyrene foam coated in glass fiber reinforced concrete. The panelized walls, windows, interior finishes and kit roof are prefabricated and assembled on-site. The screens slide in front of glass for hurricane winds. Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, which is dedicated to building affordable and green housing for New Orleans residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, has built 50 LEED homes in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward so far, with 100 more under construction. He has built them all for under $150,000.


floating house

Green roofed SchwimmHausBoat by German architects Confused-Direction — is a permanently floating home. Note that the floatation itself is not very bulky. sascha-akkermann.de

Maasbommel, The Netherlands #1

floating house

The Dutch have realized that building higher dikes to keep out the sea is no longer the solution. Here’s a community of 37 homes near the Maas River dyke, a river which is known for its seasonal flooding. These homes cost less than 5% more than the cost of conventional construction. Picture above is during a swell. Designed by Factor Architecten

floating home

Amphibious homes that rest on land but are built to rise when waters rise. When the river swells the house will float as much as 18 feet. It floats back down as the water subsides. Designed by Factor Architecten

floating home

Houses sit on hollow concrete foundations that are attached to six iron piers. The fat posts in between the houses are the guides that keep the homes in place as they glide up and down. Factor Architecten

IJburg District, Amsterdam

floating homes

Ijburg has floating neighbourhoods with docks and jetties instead of roadways. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer rohmer.nl

floating homes

Lightweight 3 story steel homes are supported by concrete “tubs” submerged in the water to a depth of half a story. Bedrooms are on the lowest floor. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer rohmer.nl Photo: Roos Aldershoff.

floating homes

IJ Lake — Seventy-five floating homes and waterside dyke houses. Architectenbureau Marlies Rohmer. rohmer.nl

Netherlands — Regenboogkade

floating homes

Plus 31 Architects plus31architects.nl. The dock for this commumnity has been made to accommodate cars.

floating homes


Netherlands. A new interpretation of traditional Dutch canal houses. For more info and pics see here: west8.nl Pic: Room 19 / Flickr.

Ladner, British Columbia

floating homes

On the Fraser River. There are 500 floating homes in San Francisco, another 500 in Seattle, 500 in Vancouver, 3,500 in Portland, Oregon, 99 on Latsch Island on the Mississippi River in Minnesota and 40 in Yellowknife Bay, NWT. Brett / Flickr.

Gransville, Canada

#bc #vancouver #canada #granvilleisland #floatinghouse

A post shared by Olga Kovzun (@olga_kovzun) on

This small floating community uses a dock as a walk way to each home.


floating home

Tomahawk Moorage. This photo was originally found at “portlandfloatinghomeinfo.com/2009/03/24/season-is-here-for-buying-a-floating-home/”.

Scarborough Bluffs, Ontario, Canada

floating homes

Instead of raccoons at your back door—ducks. Somewhere In Toronto / Flickr.

Vancouver Harbour, Canada

Enjoy the sun on the deck of one of these wonderful floating homes.

Yellowknife Bay, Northwest Territories

floating homes

The floating homes in this remote community tend to be colorful. Photo by Arctic Man Explorer / Flickr.

Point San Pablo Yacht Harbor, Richmond, CA


Pretty floating home. Image: CT Young / Flickr. The slanted roof and bright colors on this house create a cheerful atmosphere.

Thames River near Hampton Court: Taggs Island, UK

floating house

Everyone on Taggs Island lives on a floating home; there are 40 hugging the perimeter and 20 in the central lagoon, all attached to piles driven into the riverbed. More info: taggs-island.com Pic Grahamsjz / Flickr.




Every year the river homes become locked into the ice in the Latsch Island Boathouse Community on the Mississippi River. The extra weight of thick ice and snow needs to be removed from the roofs and decks of floating homes. The residents of this community also tie their homes to the trees during the spring swell. Pic: Floatin Winona Project fotovisura.com

Esquimalt, British Columbia

floating homes

Floating House Street. Pic: Ruth Anderson

Stony Lake, Ontario

floating home

gh3 Architects designed this boathouse for the photographer’s studio ‘Williams Studio’. The boathouse is located on Stony Lake, Canada. Go to gh3.ca for more designs.

Portland, Oregon

floating home

Fennell Residence — Robert Harvey Oshatz Architects. Pictures: Cameron Neilson, lots more here: oshatz.com

This is another floating house found in Portland. A welcoming atmosphere has been created with the inclusion of a porch.

Lake Union, Seattle

floating home

What an amazing view, this photo is from residencehousedesign.com. You can go to their site for more information.

floating homes

From the air. Photo by tenaschuck.org.

A small boat launch allows these homeowners to go to land, without having to find a spot to dock their house.

floating homes

Exterior shots for the 1993 “Sleepless in Seattle” movie were shot here. Seattle Daily Photo, Kim / Flickr.


Round windows give this home a truly nautical feel. You can find this photograph at en.wikipedia.org.

floating home

New Craftsman style. Originally found at “seattle.olx.com/lake-union-floating-home-iid-182723692”.


By Northwest Architects More pics: designsnw.com. The architecture of this home brings suburban style to the water.

floating home

Aluminum panels (polluting to manufacture) and rain screen cladding with fiber cement panels sheath the exterior. Vandeventer and Carlander Architects. To seemore work by these designers, go to vc-arch.com.

floating home

The kitchen of above home. Hydronic in-floor heating utilizes an energy efficient heat pump system and the ventilation system utilizes a heat exchanger. Vandeventer + Carlander Architects have more photographs on their site.

Lake Austin in Austin, Texas


Lake Flato Architects. Lots more here: lakeflato.com

Sausalito, CA

floating home

The most famous of the Sausalito houseboats, the “Taj Majal”, a miniature version of the Taj Mahal in India. It was a bed and breakfast for a few years, now it’s a private home again. Picture by Lyrinda Snyderman / Flickr.

floating home

Sausalito floating homes have a history that stretches over a century. This home made from an old tugboat. A double sense of security. This picture was found at the Tiny House Blog.

Buntern, Thialand

This floating house is used in Buntern for tourists, it is commonly called “The Floatel.”



Houseboats in Kashmir. Not homes but rentals for 135. + a night. Go to kashmirhouseboats.com for more information.


floating home

Vietnam, Ha Long Bay, where people have been living in floating homes for centuries… Pic: Mikel Bilbao © 2010 The photograph was originally found at “mikelbilbao.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/VIETNAM/G0000VBD9Fmi4zhA/I0000.LaSXtEeexA”. You can view more of his work at mikelbilbao.photoshelter.com.

Powell Lake, British Columbia

floating home

Floating cabin on log raft. See a picture of the log flotation raft under construction here. For more on this small floating cabin go to tinyhouseblog.com. More pics here: powellriverbooks.blogspot.com



Perry Creek, near Vinalhaven Island, Maine. A custom-built floating cabin. Builder unknown. Photo by Marcus Peabody.


floating home

This is a two-level home. The bedrooms and bathrooms are below sea level. You can see other projects by the architects who created this home at plus31architects.com.

floating home

Plus 31 Architects, see their website for many more floating home designs. plus31architects.com Photo: Iwan Baan

The Last Resort


The design recently won a competition, and with funding in place the team expects to begin fabrication soon. Roof-integrated solar panels generate electricity for the two electric engines that propel the home. More of RAFAA Architecture & Designs work can be seen at rafaa.ch.

New Water, The Netherlands

floating house

‘New Water‘ will be the world’s first floating apartment complex, The Citadel. They will use 25% less energy than a conventional building due to the use of water cooling techniques. Architect: WaterStudio, their site is waterstudio.nl.

Floating Island Seoul

floating island seoul

The world’s largest artificial ‘floating island’ on Seoul’s Han River is a 20,400 square-meter development, housing three inter-connected cultural centers. It was privately funded at a cost of about $88 million. Go to miceseoul.com for more information.


floating home

Floating Hotel

— The connecting bridge is planted with trees, giving the impression of land projecting into the sea. Designed by the Giancarlo Zema Design Group for an Arabian commission. The designs can be found at giancarlozema.com.

The Maldives

Floating City under construction in the Maldives. The green covered star-shape building symbolizes the Maldivian innovative route to conquer climate change. This will become a location for conventions about climate change, water management and sustainability. Architect Koen Olthuis–Waterstudio.NL. The developer was Dutch Docklands.

Lilypads: Floating Eco-Cities

floating home

Each 50,000-person pad is a designed as a zero-emission floating community that uses solar, wind, tidal and biomass power to generate energy for its inhabitants. Go to vincent.callebaut.org to see more designs by Vincent Callebaut Architectures.

Floating Stadium

floating home

Travels to the venue via a blend of hybrid energies using water, wind and solar power. German design firm, Stadium Concept. More photos can be found on Stadiumconcept’s website.

Floating House With Solar Panels And Roof Garden

floating home

Equipped with an incinolet toilet which burns waste instead of creating more sewage. Drinking water is collected from rainstorms and filtered into a glass partition wall inside. The inner temperature of the boat is regulated by a geothermal pond loop which runs from the bottom of the water source through a piling supporting the dock and into the floor of the boat. By Wyatt Little — Houston, Texas. For more information go to coroflot.com.

Environmental Impact Of Houseboats

An issue with houseboats is that most flotation systems aren’t yet green. Used most are log floats, solid styrofoam encased in rubber, foam filled steel pontoons, positive concrete, concrete pontoons, concrete and foam, wood and foam, polyethylene shell with solid core polystyrene block molded inside, fiberglass and envirofloat.

For waste, you must use incinerator toilets, compost toilets or a hook up to sewer services along the dock.

In Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-626, a decision was rendered that floating structures be treated as land-based homes, not as a vessel subject to maritime laws.

We can now reimagine this scene.

Houseboat Building And Architects

Architects as mentioned above and…

Vancouver: floatinghomes.com
Seattle: seattleafloat.com
Argentina: econautico.com.ar

Written by Keiren

Keiren is an artist who lives in New York City. A lover of animals, nature, science & green building. Keiren originally founded Inspiration Green in 2007, which merged with Insteading in 2016.


Leave a Reply
  1. You need to add the float homes from Yellowknife Bay, Yellowknife, NT, Canada.

    Theyhave midnight sun in the summer & freeze in during the -40C winter temperatures when satalite TV starts to work.

  2. I’m interested in floating house. I would like to know whether it can be built on ground so that when the land is flooded the house can float.

    Looking forward to your reply.

  3. I’m interested in floating house. I would like to know whether it can be built on ground so that when the land is flooded the house can float.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    • We are dealing with a flood plain island on the Ohio River and are building Tiny Houses on wheels so that they can be move as a flood approaches, All utilities are snap on. We have come up with a model on pontoons that will rise in a flood and settle back in the same place as the water recedes. This is less expensive than a trailer house and both are affordable to a wide range of buyers, Also buy putting skids on the pontoon a buyer can slide it on a trailer and move it to the water as a house boat. These two models are about the only homes that can be affordable built on a flood plain and opens up a tremendous opportunity.

  4. Bonjour,

    je vous signale qu’il manque anthenea, maison flottante ? vision sous marine autonome, dont plusieurs exemplaires ont été réalisés.

    ducancelle.com. Le projet certainement le plus futuriste et réaliste francais.


    Jean Michel ducancelle


    I would point out that lack anthenea house floating autonomous underwater vision, many copies were made.

    ducancelle.com. The project certainly the most futuristic and realistic french.


    Jean Michel Ducancel

  5. Thank you for this wonderful insight, into what can be achieved, with a bit of Imagination.

    And it keeps the depression away, one gets, when floods & disasters arrive.

    Hope to own one sometime.


    08:45 a.m.

  6. Anyone out there, who needs a hand, to help Build, renovate one of these.

    Holland, Summer months, until September’12.

    Would need accomodation

    Voluntary, Wood machinist, part-time Electrics..



    08:53 a.m.

  7. Hello All

    I have purchased a floathome and am currently living in it. I am looking to replace the floats. I need any help anyone can provide.

    Ideally I need to know where I can purchase foam and if there is anyone who could foreman the operation. I have lots of friends and family for labour with skills and tool but no boat nohow. Budget is also a main concern.


  8. I thank you for doing things as beautiful.

    It’s LITERAL my dream come true, knowing that this exist, i know that what I dreamed for 3 years, it has come true., and knowing that someone finally it did REALITY, motivated me in ways unimaginable.

    My English is very bad, as you may have noticed, but try to write what else I can, because it is true, THE DREAMS EXIST.


    P.S. Thank you so much and greetings from Xalapa, Veracruz, México.

    I hope one day to make it happen

  9. I’m very impressed with this architecture and the durability and strength. I know of another site for the building of bamboo homes (pre-fab), but was wondering if there’s a possibility of a floating variation for an average person to build. Is the architect Simon Velez available for small scale construction? Maybe in construction with another company as a consultant?

  10. A bamboo floating home sounds like a great idea (I suppose other than in a hurricane prone area).

    It looks like Simon Velez does some small scale works, I see a treehouse even, check out his website, http://www.deboerarchitects.com. If you write to him, maybe he would come up with a floating bamboo design! Worth a try.

  11. These are some of the most unique floating home photos I have seen anywhere on the internet. I don’t know where to start…certainly the Netherlands seems to be an innovator and design, probably out of necessity due to the need for land reclamation (and the floating home alternative). I was also unaware that Portland had such a large floating home community!

  12. This article says that Portland, Oregon has 3500 floating homes. Most would be on the Columbia River, and frequently are on wood pilings. In the winter of 1996-97 there was a bad flood and many of the floating home communities came within literally a foot or two of floating off the pilings. Once the river crested there was also a fear that winter winds would come up, and snap the pilings. This was a very scary week —and insurance probably would not have covered the losses, had they occurred. Plus numerous yacht moorages were also at risk. Could have been hundreds of millions $$ in losses!! Some of the houseboats were moored to dolphin type pilings and nearly reached the top of those. Even the steel pilings were nearly breached, but the marinas welded extensions on the following summer. Many houseboats, however, are still on wooden pilings.

  13. Since the first time I was traveling in Kalimantan ( Borneo ) in 1973 my mind kept wondering why in other place of Indonesia people do not adopt this method of living , namely floating houses on huge log. Eventhough at that time I felt what a pity of those huge and valuable timber used as a floater while there are other substitute. Here in Jakarta where I live just a month ago there had been flood due to the monsoon and also that the upstream area is heavily deforested. Now the issue is to do reclamation which I assume is not ‘ ecological ‘. Rather than reclamation it would be better to make floating settlement , which is following the nature rythm. Perhaps your idea and expertise would be valuable for the other parts of Indonesia and the other part of the world as well

  14. This type of construction may have saved thousands of homes at the New Jersey and New York Shore areas hard hit by Sandy. Coould someone please forward this info to the powers that be in these areas!

  15. I have a project in France along a lake with highly exceptionnal floods and try to promote the concept as a preventative solution with planning authorities

    Contact me to exchange views


    m contie

  16. I want to build a floating house due to floods happening more often where I live. I’m just concerned about the plumbing. Are there like stretchable pipes or something? Drainage and toilet pipes cannot just detach once the house floats, right? Everything should still be functional like electricity, cable TV and plumbing. Please reply. Thanks!

  17. Extendable pipes are an option. All utilities and plumbing are placed in extendable piping that goes up and down with the home…electric wires are bunched up in telescoping waterproof piping…plumbing pipes telescope, etc…

  18. Thank you for your inspirational ideas. I will use these pictures and ideas to stimulate my students to get involved with a challenge of building flood resistant homes.

    An eye opener, thank you

  19. Help support the finishing of ‘Houseboat Wars’ on Kickstarter. Search Houseboat Wars on Kickstarter. Houseboat Wars is a documentary about a community in Sausalito that won the right to live on the water. An adaptive solution to sea level rise & climate change. Endorsed by the San Francisco Film Society follow us on Twitter @HouseboatWars

  20. Hello,

    I’m Mikio Ito, a Japanese editor. Now i’m writng an article about houses in the world. I wnat to borrow your photo, floating house in Nederland.

    Japanese high school students read it.

    I’m waiting your ready consent.

    Best regards,

    Mikio Ito

  21. You must contact the builder or photographer that is linked to after the text, below the image you desire to use. Please contact them for permission. Thx. Best.

  22. Information about plots, lands or any other thing which comes under real estate can’t be find correct any where but your blog seems to be one of the best one in sharing information as it contain information with honesty. I also want to introduce Vnext construction who are dealing with Exterior Cladding Material and many more thing. They are well known for maintaining trust with the customers and also providing them with best material.

  23. Dear Sir,

    I am jean-michel ducancelle architect. I invite you to see my site www. ducancelle.com to see my experience about to live in the sea and particulary about Anthenea, a real ocean house with submarine vision.

    Best regards

  24. Most homes have fixed wiring and plumbing connections to electrical, gas, water and sewer connections. When the water rises, how does the home break free from its utility connections which are typically at grade or sub-grade level? The gas pipes are iron, water can have copper or PVC, sewer is PVC or ductile iron, and electrical is copper wiring. All of these connections could hold down the home. Buoyancy may eventually break the home free, but if water gets over the door thresholds before the home breaks free of the utility connections, the weight of the water will counter the buoyancy and the home will not float. Another possibility is that the utilities are holding one side of the home and the other side lifts. Eventually the angle will become so severe that it will cause the telescopic arms/posts to lock up and the home will be flooded on its side. Just some obvious issues I noted while watching the video. If these are overcome, this could work. However, the biggest issue is cost. Many of the people in the New Orleans area that flooded were too poor to afford flood insurance. How would they afford to retrofit their home with a flotation system? Please don’t say government funded.

  25. I believe that Foy Brown built the boathouse you have with the caption:

    ‘A custom-built floating cabin in Perry Creek, nearby the island of Vinalhaven, Maine. Builder unknown. Photo by Marcus Peabody.’

    See also the video on youtube posted by HamiltonMarineInc – ‘Keeping It In the Family’

  26. 1.What are the design procedure required by floating construction?

    2.How to construct floating building? step by procedure for floating home?

    Thank you

  27. I wonder whether people living in a floating home gets seasick from time to time and has complains. Is there any necessity of equipment to reduce oscillations in windy or tidal season?
    I have a very good and efficient solution to it and anybody interested in please contact me at bmkwak@kaist.edu

  28. anyone out there have really cheap ideas on stout enough pontoons 60 ft long to hold my skoolie conversion im a disable vet would ove some input im thinking 100lb propane tanks welded together”?ty richard

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