From the Forums

Published in the April 2011 Issue April 2011 Ask The Expert

Many Houseboat magazine readers love to take on projects. Whether it's installing a new shower or completely repowering their boat, they know they can come to the Houseboat forums and find advice from many experienced do-it-yourselfers.

Recently, new member Mcrowe told everyone he'd found an intriguing deal of a fixer-upper houseboat and wondered if he should take it on. Here's what happened:

[Mcrowe] posed his query: Hello all, I am new to the forum. I recently was playing around on craigslist and found a 38-foot Burnscraft with a Volvo Penta for $500. It is a project boat in which the owner's storage property is being re-zoned so it must go soon. I just thought it would be fun to ponder the idea. I would like to finish the project and send it down to Lake Cumberland, Ky. I was wondering if there is any way to estimate how much insurance would cost for this thing each year. Also, the guy states the boat cannot be moved using a low-boy trailer (which is all I have access to). Is there a particular reason for this? I realize I need to actually look into the boat and check all the stringers and glass work. I just wanted to see what I am looking at getting into. This is a project that a few friends and I will be working on. Thanks for any input!

[stmbtwle] had an early and emphatic response: There's no such thing as a free (or nearly free) boat. Smart thing to do: RUN.

Bear in mind that unless you have cheap storage (backyard) and are really handy, it's going to cost you more than it'll ever be worth. I've been there.

If you and a few friends are going to be working on it, you can probably plan on losing some of those friends. It's probably a bigger project than you ever imagined.

[OLD HOUSEBOATER] was more optimistic: A Burnscraft is a better prospect for restoration than most boats of that era. In its day it was a much better built boat.

The owner is trying to get out of storage, insurance and disposal costs. Bet he would give it to you for a dollar if you took responsibility. Make sure there are no liens against it!

I have rebuilt four houseboats. However: they weren't beat to a pulp. In many cases you can purchase a boat, in good shape, and enjoy it from day one for the same dollars you will ultimately invest in a fixer-upper, especially in today's market.

To view this thread in its entirety, visit the forums at and search for the "38' Burnscraft" thread.

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