An Unbelievable DIY Project

When Remodeling Becomes Rebuilding

March 2019 Feature By Kaylee Brogan Web Exclusive

We all like a good do-it-yourself project, don’t we? There’s something so satisfying about putting your blood, sweat, and tears into something you really love. There’s something about watching the old and broken item become restored and refreshed in your hands. But doing it yourself can be a lot of extra work, and you sometimes find yourself biting off more than you can chew.

That’s kind of how our story starts. Back in April of 2017, Jerry and Kimberly Manyette got a call from a good friend of theirs about an ad on Craigslist. There was a marina that had an old 70s houseboat for sale, otherwise they were just going to reskin it. “We made a phone call, went over and looked at it, and fell in love with it,” says Jerry, “We decided right then that we wanted it.” They were excited to tackle the project and make this houseboat their own.

Eager to start their work, they began to look at what needed to be done. They were taking a look at the aft section of the boat, trying to figure out why all the flooring had been torn out. It was because the boat was built without any access panels to check on the pumps, so the previous owner had just torn up the floor.

“We originally thought it only needed to be patched in a couple places” Jerry says, “but as we started, we realized a lot more had to be done.” There was a rubber membrane over some plywood on the back sundeck. The rubber had been holding water, so the plywood was rotting, but there’s more; under the plywood was a fiberglass membrane, and then more plywood, and more water. “The boat came up out of the water 6 inches once all the inside water was out. We measured over 5000 pounds of water in the bottom of the boat.” Jerry and his contractor ended up completely replacing the hull of the boat. “We literally cut the old home out of this. The whole hull had to come out of it. It was a flat-bottomed boat when we started, but we added a keel to make it more stable.”

Even though there were a lot of snags in the project, that was 2017, and I asked Jerry where they were at now. It’s a whole new boat. With 2,080 square feet of living space, they have the houseboat of their dreams. There’s a master bedroom, master on suite and walk in closet, a guest bedroom, full walk in linen closet, laundry room with full washer and dryer, a sunroom, and a 15,000 square foot sundeck with a built in bar. The boat details, like crown molding, have all been handcrafted, with less than 20% of the original boat left. A houseboat that they paid $6500 for is currently estimated between $2.5 and $3.5 million, and it’s not even done! Jerry and Kimberly are hoping to finish up this summer.

And their project has gained a lot of attention. One man already approached Jerry and his contractor, asking if they’d build him one. “We’re considering doing it” says Jerry, “And we’re talking about what it would be like to build custom houseboats from the ground up.” Even though this has been the the DIY of a lifetime, with crazy bumps in the road, Jerry has enjoyed the work. And who knows? Maybe he’s also starting up a new business.

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