There are floating homes, houseboats, and boathouses.
I live in a floating home, and there’s a big difference between the three:
- Floating Home. A floating home, according to Oregon Revised Statute 830.700, is defined as: “a moored structure that is secured to a pier or pilings and is used primarily as a domicile and not as a boat.” To me, it makes perfect sense; my house is semi-permanently attached to a dock and has no motor. If I wanted to move my home to another moorage, it would have to be pulled by a boat by ropes. Even the U.S. Supreme Court made this very same determination when, a few years ago in Florida (alas—my home state, unfortunately) a guy had his home destroyed by the City of Riviera Beach by his supposed “frequent comments at city meetings in violation of free speech rights.”
- Houseboat. A houseboat, sadly, has more than one definition, which is why it tends to get confusing at times discerning between “floating home” and “houseboat.” Wikipedia says that a houseboat “is a boat that has been designed or modified to be used primarily as a home. Some houseboats are not motorized, because they are usually moored, kept stationary at a fixed point and often tethered to land to provide utilities. However, many are capable of operation under their own power.” I’m going to stick with my guns and say that a houseboat has a motor and can be steered to go places, like this cool, eco-friendly houseboat I recently found whilst floating around the interweb (yes—I KNOW they call it a floating home, but they’re obviously wrong—it’s got a steering wheel, people!).
- Boathouse. A boathouse has two meanings, according to Wikipedia: (1) “[A] building especially designed for the storage of boats, normally smaller craft for sports or leisure use . . . Boathouses are also sometimes modified to include living quarters for people, or the whole structure may be used as temporary or permanent housing.”; and (2) “may be the headquarters of a boat club or rowing club. It may also include a restaurant, bar, and other leisure facilities.” Or, see the definition for “houseboat.” If you lean toward the former meaning, like me, you could live in a boathouse; imagine a floating home with an open space for a boat, like a garage, and then a separate, but usually small living area. (The previous link is that of a fancy boat well in Venice—those Venetians used to add all sorts of flair to their homes. Of course, most of their homes are older than this country, but whatever…)
I know. It’s confusing. But if you’ll just go by my logic, a floating home is in a fixed location and has no motor, a house boat can go places (think of a pontoon boat on Lake Powell), and a boathouse stores a boat.