While surfing the Internet last Tuesday I came across a great article by Christopher Solomon on the www.msn.com news website. Complete with pages of photos, Solomon provides a positive boost to the houseboat industry.
Below is sample of his article, but to read it in its entirety, please visit http://realestate.msn.com/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=10043281&imageindex=1
If extreme luxury is what floats your boat, you'll admire these palaces - a far cry from the bare-bones houseboats of yesteryear. But is it possible to go overboard with the fancy amenities? Take a peek.
The new floating home: large and customized
Houseboats today are comfortable enough - and large enough - that people can spend long periods of time on them. "Houseboat manufacturers are building upwards of 100- by 28-foot houseboats," says Lindee Anderson, an industry observer and former editor of Houseboat magazine.
"Really the only thing that's inhibiting size right now is length restrictions on lakes" and limitations such as slip sizes. This model, by Sharpe Houseboats, is 75 feet long by 22 feet wide, with four bedrooms and two full baths. Its total square footage, including front and rear decks and cabin is 2,825 square feet.
With a growing trend toward customization, houseboats this size can cost in the mid to upper $800,000 range, says Sharpe's Brent Fothergill. "They're getting so much more elaborate."
In the (party) zone
In times past, "you wouldn't have much up there (on the top deck) except maybe a chair," says Sharpe Houseboats' Brent Fothergill. But this houseboat is a party zone: It's got everything from an ice maker, fridge and grill to an "oxygen bar" for refreshing flagging guests.
The pop-up plasma-screen TV (with satellite and auto-tracking, naturally, so you don't lose your signal as you cruise) swivels for best viewing in the hot tub or at the bar, and descends into the counter when not in use to avoid the elements and so as not to spoil the view when cruising. "It's wild, man," says Fothergill.
He adds that Sharpe just completed a boat that has dueling 58-inch TVs up on the deck; "that way, he could watch two ball games at once," he says of the owner. "He could have 80 people on top of that deck."
What's under your bed?
"Houseboat manufacturers are very skilled at using every inch of space on a houseboat. They sort of have to be," says industry observer Lindee Anderson.
Many luxury houseboat builders will install a hydraulic master bed, to provide access to the space below. "The hydraulic lifts are pretty popular these days," Anderson says. "You're talking about trying to pack as many amenities into a houseboat as possible, to save space. And a sewing room is not something someone is going to use all the time, so tucking it away under a master bed is a good use of space."
Some people put a washer and dryer underneath their master bed, Anderson notes, while others use this area for a desk or for storage. Because the space extends down into the hull, you can stand up down there.