Not Just An Upgrade

April 2014 Feature

By the time the perfect houseboat has been found, the next thing that new owners have to decide on is what options to include to finish their dreamboat on the lake. There are a lot of options to consider, but with the help of manufacturers, making the right decision may not be as hard as once thought. Owners should consider optional inclusions that will best help the houseboat retain its value while still filling in personal needs. Houseobat Magazine has talked with a couple of manufacturers to see what's been trending over the last few years that can help new houseboat owners make the right choices when it comes time to make the final decision.

So Many Choices

Gary Smith, vice president of sales and marketing at SkipperLiner, has noticed an ongoing trend for higher-end materials when helping customers build their luxury houseboat.

"We are seeing increasing demand for higher quality materials and technology in our custom boats," said Smith.

When laying out the final design for the interior, customers have been requesting top-name brands throughout the construction. Instead of using lower priced solid surface materials, Smith has seen a rise in the request for better quality materials for anything from the countertops to the vanities and showers. Another area that has seen requests for an upgrade is the plumbing fixtures found throughout the boat. While the plumbing, counters and other aesthetics are important, another hot upgrade has focused on the technological side of the house.

"Perhaps the most important innovation is on the technology side," Smith continued. "We are installing control systems that allow the owner to turn on and off all major systems on the boat, using a smart phone or iPad device."

Not all customers are the same and other companies have experienced different requests. Dennis Pluckebaum, owner of Pluckebaum, has found owners in hot demand for bow and stern thrusters on houseboats that hadn't previously had them installed. During production, owners often look to get the most bang out of their buck, but thrusters are not often thought of during the initial build. Pluckebaum houseboat owners have come back through the years to get these thrusters put on, which gives them more versatility on the water.With the capability to regulate the air conditioning system, lighting, stereo system and a whole lot of other electrical gadgets, people have been turning to new technologies to make their life on board increasingly relaxing and luxurious.

Shawn Heinen, president of Thoroughbred Houseboats LLC, has found that more and more people throughout 2013 have been all about glass.

"For 2013 we sold 15 new boats with eight being all glass. Glass is definitely taking hold since it really offers a timeless exterior finish," said Heinen.

Along with a new glass exterior put all around the boat, owners have also requested stone surfaces for the exterior. While there are plenty of boats with carpet exteriors, the stone surface offers lasting beauty and degradation resistance. These options have also been accompanied by the increasing demand for a retractable helm. Heinen has seen that the helm's ability to retract has freed up the salon, leaving room for furniture and making the room clean up nicely for houseboaters to enjoy.

Another list of options that have been increasingly popular is cabinetry and extra space given to the galley area. People love having an open kitchen with a lot of space and storage areas, so builders have been tirelessly at work meeting the demand for these more spacious and functional kitchen and dining areas. Along with more cabinetry, owners have been trending toward larger refrigerators. David Ballinger, president and owner of MetroShip, has consistently found a high demand for larger galley appliances and space over the past few years. Many people enjoy hosting family occasions and parties for friends and neighbors onboard and having more space to store food and kitchenware has become a prominent desire across the board.Throughout the industry, there has been a reoccurring trend that has seemingly taken the houseboat world by storm. Manufacturers throughout the country have been getting requests for floor plans that lead away from traditional setups. The reverse floor plan has become a staple for many owners, and the requests for this particular floor plan have been flooding in to the builders. There are many different ways to configure the houseboat's layout and design; however, many owners have found that the reverse style floor plan offers a lot of different and unique luxuries. Because of its higher demand throughout the last few years, a houseboat with this floor plan retains its value for much longer, and that's never a bad thing.

The Only Option

The reason there's a list of optional favorites isn't just for common knowledge. Everyone is unique and already has their dream boat in mind, but there should be things to keep in mind. If the owner ever has intentions, or at some point must sell their vessel, they must consider implementing some of the options that have been trending in the world of houseboating. There have been numerous cases of recently built boats losing resale value due to poorly informed decisions and lack of foresight, leaving owners stranded in tight situations. Being aware of what's become popular and desirable is a good way to judge which options you should include in your future build. The list provided is a great place to start and taking time to ask the professional builders and designers for further trending updates is the perfect way to not only build an amazing boat, but to make the right investment.

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