YourNewBoat.com offers used houseboats for sale
Find Used Houseboats For SaleSell Your Current BoatHouseboating Tips and LinksContact YourNewBoat.com

Floating Home Frequently Asked Questions

2017 Floating House Update:
Well, it's kind of a long story if you haven't been following along, but we'll attempt to summarize... In response to the TVA Board passing regulations that would require the removal of all Non-Navigable/Floating Homes from all TVA Waterways in 30 years, the Tennessee Valley Floating Home Association (TVFHA) was created by Floating Home Owners and Marina Owners, which together organized, raised funds, raised awareness, educated the public, hired an advocate, and more, and was able to get legislation added to an important federal bill (through the help of several key Senators from North Carolina) which later passed both the US Senate and the Congress in what started out as the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) but eventually became the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) and was signed into law by President Obama on December 16th, 2016. In which, TVA would be prohibited from requiring the removal of any Non-Navigable/Floating Home that meets TBD reasonable health, safety, and environmental standards and pays a TBD reasonable fee to the TVA.

A recent news article link is here:
http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/2017/01/01/president-obama-blocks-tva-ban-floating-homes/96004856/

You can read the bill here:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/612/text?r=94#toc-H3E7969FB8A1F4BC1872A3ED8C5177773

We still encourage everyone to stay involved as the TVFHA will be working with the TVA in the coming months to draft reasonable regulations and fees. Also we encourage stakeholders (Floating Home Owners, Users, Renters, etc) to donate to the TVFHA to help repay financial commitments to Advocates that was key to accomplishing all of the above, you can stay involved by joining efforts here: http://tvfha.org/ or here: http://www.saveourfloatinghomes.com/

 

May 2016 TVA Floating House Update:
It is important to understand that currently the TVA has announced a pending change in policy regarding Floating Homes on TVA reservoirs in their Floating Houses Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Also known as Management Option B-2. The final policy decision is to grandfather all existing floating houses (FHs) on TVA reservoirs that meet minimum safety and environmental standards as prescribed by TVA and pay a new annual fee of approx $.50/sqft of the entire footprint of the home with a minimum fee of $200 and a maximum of $1,200.00. Pre-1978 nonnavigable (NN) houseboats in compliance with a current TVA Section 26a permit are also allowed to remain but would not be subject to all the new floating houses standards or an annual fee. A sunset date in 30 years would require removal of all existing floating houses and nonnavigable houseboats from TVA reservoirs and the Tennessee River system.

Below is Management Alternative B2 as published by Matthew Higdon and Robert Farrell of TVA in Feb 2016. Note this option was approved by the TVA Board in May of 2016 with a change of 20 year sunset to a 30 year:
"cES 3.4 Alternative B2 – Grandfather but Sunset Existing and Prohibit New Under Alternative B2, TVA would approve existing FHs that meet new minimum standards and allow mooring within permitted marina harbor limits but would establish in its updated regulations a sunset date by which time all FHs must be removed from TVA reservoirs. TVA would prohibit new FHs. TVA would continue to allow existing permitted NNs that are compliant with their permit conditions but would require that they also be removed from TVA reservoirs by the sunset date. The sunset period would last no more than 20 years."

For all of those that would like to see the 30 year sunset provision done away with, we recommend visiting: saveourfloatinghomes.com

 

Now, on with the frequently asked questions about said Floating Cottages in our area:

Where are the Floating Homes Located?
All of our Floating Homes are located within a Marina's Harbor on Norris Lake in East Tennessee. They cannot be moved off of Norris Lake. They can be relocated to other marinas around the lake (if the marina has room for it within their harbor). Please contact the Listing Broker of the Floating Home you're interested in to find out which of the 24 marinas on Norris Lake the home is located within.

Floating Homes For Sale on Norris Lake TN
Photo courtesy of Powell Valley Resort

How much does it cost to move a Floating Home from one marina to another?
This cost depends on the distance between the two marinas, anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 will cover the average move.

How do I get to/from the home?
You need a boat to get to/from the parking lot to the Floating Home. Only one marina on the lake offers a Ferry Service that will take you or your guests to/from the home, this service is only available during marina hours. Most of the time you will want your own boat or pontoon to be able to come/go as you please. Most marinas also offer slips for your runabout/pontoon if you want to leave a boat at their marina for an additional fee. The additional slips are often discounted to houseboat/floating home owners that are already renting another space within the marina.

How much is vehicle parking?
Currently every marina on Norris Lake offers free parking to their guests. However at several marinas preferred/reserved parking is available for an additional fee.

Do you pay a monthly fee for the Floating Home? What is the cost of ownership?
Since the cost of ownership can vary from home to home and marina to marina, these will be general answers to apply to all homes on the lake. Feel free to contact the Listing Broker of the Floating House you're interested in to obtain the specific costs of ownership that applies to a specific home.

While most of the floating homes are not located within a catwalk slip, they still occupy space within a marina's harbor and home owners will still pay a Mooring Fee. We have 24 Marinas on Norris Lake and fees will vary from marina to marina. Most marinas will require an annual lease to rent a space on their mooring line or a slip on a catwalk. Most marinas charge their mooring fees monthly, though some require annual payments, and others will offer a discount if you pay annually instead of monthly. Mooring fees on Norris Lake for Floating Homes can run anywhere from $150/month plus utilities to $300/month plus utilities.

Utilities consist of Waste Pumpouts, Water & Electric. All homes are required to have their waste pumped out regularly, some marinas will include pumpouts in their monthly mooring charge, others it is additional. On average (when waste pumpouts are not included in your mooring fee) you can expect to pay $550/season.

Water is sometimes provided by the marina where the home is moored. When it is provided sometimes it's included in the monthly mooring fee, other times there is a small monthly or yearly charge for water. When water is not provided by the marina most homes will be equipped with a Lake Water Pump. Lake Water Pumps can simply be a lake water pump that is used for sinks or showers and a home owner carries water for drinking or cooking aboard. Other homes are equipped with a Water Maker System that treats lake water for drinking. These systems can be added to any home for a cost. Most systems cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 installed.

Electric/shore power is not available at every marina. When power is available most home owners will have their electric metered and read either monthly or quarterly by either the marina or local utility company. Most marinas require the home owner to purchase and maintain the shore power cable to the home which consists of under water mining cable that runs from the shoreline down the lake bottom then up to the home. This cable is an expense for the home owner. And depending on the distance a home is from the shore can easily costs a couple of thousand dollars to purchase and install. If a home is hooked to power and the cable is being included in the sale the listing will usually state: "Shore Power Included". If the current mooring site is available for a buyer to keep the house where it currently sits the listing will usually state: "Norris Lake Mooring Location Available".

Is Cell Phone and Internet Service Available on Norris Lake?
Cell Phone Service is limited depending on the location of the marina. Feel free to contact the Listing Broker to find out if the home you're interested in is in a cell friendly area.

Internet Service is also limited throughout the lake, below is a link to an online facilities guide that lists the marinas that offer wifi and other amenities:

www.yournewboat.com/boatingtips/Images/2015NorrisLakeFacilitiesGuide.pdf

Note - some marinas offer wifi, but it's only available at their restaurant, at other marinas wifi is available throughout their harbor. It's best to contact the marina directly to verify if this or any other amenity is of high importance.

How do I go about having a new Floating Home Built?
New construction is prohibited on Norris Lake or any other TVA Reservoir. Currently, Norris Lake features a few different types of Floating Homes: 4B Numbered Homes, TN Numbered Homes/House Boats, and Floating Homes that are unregistered. As of April 2014, TVA began an environmental review of their 1978 policy that addresses the permitting of existing Floating Homes constructed prior to February 1978. This category represents the 4B Numbered Homes. These homes are permitted by TVA and have several requirements and restrictions that must be followed to continue your permit. For instance, 4B homes can be rebuilt, remodeled, or improved with the proper permit from the TVA. The 4B homes cannot be expanded in size beyond the size the home was originally registered as and any attached structures or docks cannot be permanently attached to the home. Additionally a transfer fee of $250-$500 is paid to the TVA when you purchase a 4B Home.

The TN Numbered homes/house boats represent Homemade House Boats that are registered as Vessels. These homes will display a TN Number and home owners will pay 7% Sales Tax on this type after purchasing. These homes will often feature an outboard motor, navigation lighting, a helm station, and other components that house boats of that size are required to have. Any remodeling, additions, etc must be approved by the marina where the home is located. Often expanding the footprint of a home will increase your monthly mooring fee as the home will be occupying a larger space within the harbor.

The un-registered homes (as well as any other Floating Home/Non-Navigable Houseboat that does not meet the 4-B Criteria and/or does not meet criteria to be considered a navigable houseboat (even if current TN numbers are displayed) will soon start paying a new annual fee of approx $.50/sqft of the entire footprint of the home with a minimum fee of $200 and a maximum of $1,200.00. Additional requirements may be accessed on this type or any of the above types of homes in the future by TVA as they undergo the final steps to their policy change which is occurring during the 2016 season.

It is important to know that TVA is categorizing all Floating Homes and Non-Navigable Vessels the same if it's TN numbered or not numbered at all. The 4-B (pre-1978 constructed homes) that are still in compliance with their permit will be exempt from the new annual fees, but not the sunset provision. TN Numbered homes will need to meet all of TVA's criteria listed below in order to not be considered a Floating Home or Non-Navigable Vessel and may still face criticism from TVA, along with TVA's definition of a Floating House:

"Floating houses are a modern version of the pre-1978 nonnavigable houseboats. Floating houses are considered to be structures designed and used primarily for human habitation, rather than for the primary purpose of recreational boating or water transportation. A boat no longer capable of navigation or water transportation, which is used for habitation, may be considered a floating house by TVA. “Nonnavigable houseboat” is the term found in TVA’s regulations that refers to early-era floating houses that existed on TVA reservoirs when TVA amended its regulations in 1971 and 1978.
A "nonnavigable houseboat" under TVA current regulations means any houseboat not in compliance with the following criteria:
 Built on a boat hull or on two or more pontoons
 Equipped with a motor and rudder controls located at a point on the houseboat with forward visibility over a 180-degree range
 Compliant with all applicable state and federal requirements relating to vessels  Registered as a vessel in the state of principal use
 State registration numbers clearly displayed on the vessel
Despite the prohibition on mooring of new FHs on its reservoirs, new FHs have been moored on TVA reservoirs. Some FH developers and owners have asserted that their houses have been designed to meet the criteria for navigability in TVA’s regulations. Whether or not this is true, these FHs are designed and used primarily for human habitation at a fixed location rather than for regularly traversing water. These FHs are not in any real sense watercraft."

The link below is to the TVA Website that discusses the ongoing environmental review/pending policy change:
https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Shoreline-Construction/Floating-Houses

The link below is to a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding TVA's Environmental Review of Floating Homes:
https://www.tva.gov/Environment/Shoreline-Construction/Floating-Houses/Floating-Houses:-Frequently-Asked-Questions
 
Are there more homes available for purchase that are not listed on this site?
There is a limited number of Floating Homes on the lake. With new construction banned there is a high demand and low supply. There are a few For Sale By Owners homes throughout the lake. Most homes that are on the market will be represented by YourNewBoat, Flat Hollow Marina or Whitman Hollow Marina.

Can I rent a Floating Home for Vacation?
Yes. Flat Hollow Marina and Whitman Hollow Marina both offer Floating Homes for rent. They also offer Rental Programs for Home Owners.  

I can't decide between a Floating House and a Factory Built Houseboat, any advice or what are the big differences?
I've actually had customers go both ways with this. I've had houseboat owners buy a floating house. And I've had floating house owners buy a houseboat.
The answer really boils down to one big question, how do you intend to use the vessel?
Are you going to use it as a boat?  Meaning do you want a "home-base" and you plan to use your smaller boat to explore the lake?  Do you like marina life and being social among your boat neighbors?
Or, do you want to get in your houseboat, leave the marina and it's amenities (electric, water, etc) and go stay in a quiet cove somewhere for the weekend or longer?
The floating house will typically lend more space as they are wider than a typical houseboat. To some, a houseboat will feel like a camper, whereas a floating house reminds them of being in a home.
From a maintenance standpoint the floating house can be built as well as an aluminum hull houseboat. However both do require maintenance.  For a floating house to be most comparable to an aluminum houseboat it would need to have the new style flotation (encapsulated styrofoam), a galvanized frame that separates the floatation from the decking, composite or vinyl decking, and vinyl siding.  When you have all of these items (most do not) it will typically be less maintenance than an aluminum houseboat. But you will still have roof maintenance (as you would on a houseboat) but you typically would not have an engine or outdrive to maintain, nor would the exterior side walls require waxing.

For all friends of the Floating Homes, including current owners & prospective buyers, we recommend becoming involved with the efforts that the Tennessee Valley Floating Home Alliance (TVFHA) is undertaking by visiting: www.saveourfloatinghomes.com


If you have additional questions, please click here to email us it may be featured on this FAQ page.

 

 

YourNewBoat.com is a corporate member in good standing with The Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA).

Yacht Brokers Association of America

copyright 2009 YourNewBoat,LLC