Posted by: oldsalt1942 | July 7, 2009

Shantyboats, Houseboats, Floating Homes & Tiny Houses

My biggest gripe about shantyboat design is that most of them are nothing more than modified boxes. Totally uninspired.

small world houseboat

Bolger Houseboat at a dock

Houseboats, in general, are little better.


Floating homes offer more creativity.



But there’s a movement in the country that I believe could easily be adapted to the construction of shantyboats…they’re called tiny houses and the movement is getting big.

Many of these tiny homes are being built on land in places that don’t have idiotic restrictions on the minimum size of dwellings, but the majority are built with trailers as their base. This, of course, mandates that there is a maximum width (8′) these structures can have so they can be hauled down the highway without special permits. These tiny homes do not have cheap, shoddy, mobile-home construction. They’re built like a normal house with two by fours.

Dee Williams has made a splash for herself and the movement and won awards for her tiny house.

I don’t see why some of the designs for tiny homes couldn’t be adapted to a shantyboat footprint. I think that building them on a barge base would be much more practical than a pontoon platform because of flotation and stability issues.

If you’re seriously thinking of building and moving into a shantyboat lifestyle it will require serious downsizing. Check out some of these websites and see if anything tickles your imagination.

On all these sites, click on their links, and in the small living journal click on each of the authors to see their approachs to their small and tiny houses.

As always, comments are appreciated and hoped for.



  1. Good heavens OldSalt!!! I have spent at least 1 1/2 hour just on one of those sites. Will have to come back to check the rest out. Thanks for the great info.

    BTW, have you ever come across any shanty’s that have chickens on the boats? Ya know, for eggs?

  2. Haven’t seen anyone with chickens or other critters other than dogs and cats. No eating livestock though it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

  3. OldSalt,
    I am at this link:

    This guy has a tiny home 10′ x 7′ and says it is a total of 140 square feet.

    Hubby tells me that our house on the boat is going to be 12′ x 8′ which is 96 square feet.


    So I went to this link:

    And our 96 square feet is correct. So what’s up with Gregory Johnson’s 140 square feet? Shouldn’t it be 70 square feet?

    I am confused.

  4. You are correct. Even as mathematically challenged as I am (when I transferred into the University of Miami and had to take some placement tests in math I got a sample problem wrong. How pitiful is that?) I can do the 10X7 in my head.

  5. Thanks, OldSalt. But guess what? That tiny house had a loft 10 x7. Which ends up being 140 square feet total. I feel so stupid, but at the same time I never considered the loft being anything but a bed. Well, at least I know that I have 26 more sqare feet to work with and if this guy can have a kitchen, living room, office and bathroom in 70 square feet? Shoot, I will have fun designing the 96 sq ft.

  6. If it’s 70 square feet on the main floor and the loft is another 70 square feet, how does he get into the loft? Is there a ladder on the outside and he comes through a window?

  7. There is a hole in the above floor that he puts a ladder on to climb into the loft.

  8. I’m so glad I just ran into your blog just now. Especially this post. I’ve been fascinated with tiny houses ever since I learned how practical they can be and the benefits of living simply. I also like your idea of placing some of these awesome tiny house designs onto a floating platform or even turn it into a tiny houseboat.

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