From modernist designs to fabulous kitchens, whatever floats on your houseboat

London features a host of luxury houseboats that are as comfortable as new homes, with architect-designed glazed spaces, designer kitchens, and sustainable, low-energy features.

“Some houseboats in London are so well appointed you wouldn’t know you were on a boat, it’s like living in a luxury apartment,” said Madelaine Cooper of Unique Property Company, which is currently selling Port, a 2-bedroom apartment. three rooms. concrete floating home for £1.395 million ($1.6 million) in St. Katharine’s Docks Marina, east London, complete with Boffi kitchen and smart home system.

In east London’s St. Katharine’s Docks marina, this £1.3million three-bedroom floating home is looking for a next owner.

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Increasingly in London, houseboats or cruise ships are being bought as lifestyle purchases. Agents say more are being used as second homes, workspaces and even commercial premises, rather than permanent residences, and landlords are transforming them into design-driven living spaces.

These aquatic escapes attract downsizers who want a weekend getaway and commuters who want a Monday-Thursday bolthole, said Ian Tichener of waterfront properties and houseboats, RiverHomes. Houseboats are houseboats with motors, such as converted Dutch houseboats or houseboats (a house without a motor), which can be towed to another location.

“We have seen a massive increase in inquiries from people over the last four weeks looking for a houseboat as a base,” said John McDavid of Aucoot. “Many are people who moved from London during the pandemic and now have to return to their office a few times a week,” he added.

And more and more buyers are pouring more money into houseboat purchases because they are considered good investments, according to agents. “In the past people thought you would never get your money back on a barge, but their value goes up, depending on where the mooring is,” Ms Cooper said.

An interior view of Port, a three-bedroom concrete floating home that currently costs around $1.6 million.

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After: Luxury houseboat in London asks for £2.5m

What’s the call?

There’s a lot to love about houseboat living in London. Living aboard a boat in the city offers a relaxing lifestyle immersed in nature, with great views of the sky and unusual vantage points of its futuristic and historic cityscapes.

London also has a number of vibrant, moored floating communities that provide a sense of place for its houseboat owners. They include Hermitage Wharf in Wapping which only includes historic vessels, such as river barges.

An interior view of a three-bedroom Thames barge currently asking for £408,000.

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The main attractions of a houseboat, however, are the location they offer and the affordable price per square foot.

The Modern House is selling Bosco, a contemporary converted houseboat in Battersea on sale for £1.5million, refurbished by its architect owners. “Compared to a similarly sized house or apartment on ‘dry’ land, in a relatively desirable location, the value for money is exceptional and the quietude is hard to match anywhere in the city”, said James Klonaris, head of Early Modern Home Ratings.

Some people successfully rent out their London houseboats through short-stay sites such as Airbnb because they are interesting, quirky and generally well-located, Mr McDavid said.

After: Living on the Thames: two luxury houseboats in London ready to sail


London barges at the upper end of the market cost between £1million and £3million, Ms Cooper said.

Some of my clients wonder how a houseboat can cost so much, but it’s the boat plus the mooring that gives it its value, said Ian Tichener, who has been selling houseboats for RiverHomes for eight years. “Currently, if it’s the right boat at the right price, it will sell quickly,” he said.

Typical amenities

Much of a houseboat’s value comes from its mooring, location, length and prestige, however, its design is an important factor in its desirability, Klonaris added. The aforementioned Bosco, on sale for £1.5million, has a stunning glass and steel deck lounge and cinema room.

“Bosco has a wonderful position in Battersea, but much of its value lies in the beauty of its preservation as a home,” he said.

People are fitting out houseboats with an emphasis on design, says John of Aucoot, an independent real estate agent. “Houseboat life once had dreary connotations of ‘caravan with net curtains.’ Nowadays, people employ architects and designers and install marble countertops, high-end appliances, solar panels electric and incineration toilets for off-grid living, as well as underfloor heating and smart thermostats.

“Houseboats are expensive purchases, so they have to be top of the line,” Ms Cooper said. “They need to have well thought out designs where you don’t feel like you’re losing out at all. Houseboat living was previously not considered a luxury and was sometimes seen as accommodation of last resort. That has changed tremendously in recent years,” she said.

London has a number of fully equipped marinas with long term residential pontoon moorings. They offer mains electricity, boat emptying and sanitation service, post and delivery service, broadband, Waitrose food delivery, security barriers and cameras, off-street parking and even leisure facilities such as a gym and swimming pool.

After: Floating on the Thames, this London barge offers a sumptuous nautical life

What do you want to know

Most houseboats are purchased with cash or a combination of cash and a personal loan. It is possible to obtain a mortgage on a barge through a specialist ship finance company. If the houseboat you are buying comes with a title registered with the land registry, it may be possible to obtain a loan from a traditional mortgage lender. The good news is that houseboats are exempt from stamp duty in the UK

Mooring rental fees are the largest fixed cost for houseboat owners. Annually renewable moorings and tenured and freehold moorings provide greater security of tenure. The alternative is a cruising license where you must move your boat every two weeks.

Buyers will need to secure the boat with a 10% deposit to secure the sale. It is advisable to have a pre-purchase survey carried out on the boat (either a boat out of the water survey or an on the water survey, if this has been carried out recently) to ensure that it is in good condition, said Mr. Tichener. It is also wise to have a solicitor verify the ownership details of the boat and the bill of sale, which is essentially the receipt of the purchase.

And when it comes to residential moorings, do your research because some companies don’t put the money back into the facilities, Ms Cooper advised.

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