Google+ House Revivals: The Houseboat Studio That Wasn't

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Houseboat Studio That Wasn't

This is a story of heartbreak and disappointment. A story of what might have been. A story of a unique floating studio right down the elevator from our city crash pad.


I'm sure many of you know we live in two places. We have our beach house, which was supposed to be our "most of the time" house, and we have a tiny city crash pad. We make all these big plans, and then life gets in the way, it would seem.
Because of work schedules (drat those pesky jobs), we are now spending most of our time in our tiny condo in the city, and only a few days a month at the beach. Big bummer.


Earlier this year, I converted a storage attic at the beach house to a studio attic, but when I'm in the city (which is most of the time), I still work at the dining table.

Our city condo is on the water and has an attached marina. When we bought our condo, it came with a nice big boat slip, but it also came with a renter in that boat slip. Late last summer, our renter vacated the slip and my husband and I started to dream.


I was dreaming about finding a new renter right away, and he was dreaming about buying a boat.  He dragged me on some boat hunting expeditions, and I listed the slip as available on Craigslist. The race was on. If I found a renter before he found a boat, I won, but if he found a boat first, he would win.

During this time, I had another idea in the back of my mind -- a floating studio. Wouldn't it be lovely? Now, my city is cracking down hard on floating homes and boat houses, but since this wouldn't actually be a home, I figured it could work.


On one of our boat hunting expeditions I saw this beautiful barge, and heard a choir of angels sing. This was it! This is exactly what I needed. After all, my husband didn't "need" a boat and I didn't "need" a renter nearly as much as I wanted my own studio.

Can you imagine getting up in the morning, dressing, fixing a cup of coffee, stepping out your door and getting on an elevator that takes you right to your dock, then walking down the pier to your floating studio? In the winter, you would work to the rhythm of the rain. In the spring, you would find yourself distracted by the young osprey learning to fly from a nearby building. In the summer, you would catch the breeze off the lake, and hear the laughter of the children at sailing camp next door. We can even reach our condo wifi down on the dock! What could be more perfect?


This was what I wanted. More. Than. Anything.


A beautiful barge with a cabin. My husband acknowledged it was a great idea, and he slowed his search for a new boat, even helping me in my search for a barge.


I began scouring Craigslist and real estate sites, looking for the perfect barge.


Nothing was as perfect as that first barge I saw, but it wasn't for sale. I began looking into having a similar structure built on a used flat barge.  It quickly became apparent that this was not going to be cheap (well, duh). Because of our city's increasingly strict legislation concerning boathouses and floating homes, I decided I'd better run my idea past some city officials before investing a lot of money into the project... just as a precaution... I really didn't think there would be a problem -- after all, I wasn't planning to build a home. Plus, I actually own the dirt under my boat slip. Seeing as the slip was on private property and it was not intended to be a home I figured it would be a no-brainer.


Sooooo, I sent off my inquiry to the city... and they shot me down. I responded and explained that it wasn't a floating home or a houseboat, so the strict new legislation shouldn't apply... and they shot me down again. They were not able to site exactly which part of the new legislation applied to my case, however. My heart was broken, but I was also just a little bit angry. I've read the legislation, and I don't believe it would apply to my floating studio. For now, I've decided to let the matter go, and my husband has been enjoying his new boat (I didn't have the heart to rent the slip when I knew how happy a new boat would make him). We've since purchased another boat slip, but it has a renter in it. When they decide to leave, I may have my husband move his boat to the other slip, and take up my fight with the city again. Maybe. The old saying "you can't fight city hall" comes to mind.

What would you do?


To read about how we met our beach house, click here.



To read about my husband's new (to us) boat, click here.

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