Floating Homes

Welcome to Floating Homes, a dedicated resource all about floating homes. Whether you're seeking the history or construction methods of a floating home, our pages are designed to inform and be enjoyed. Perhaps you are interested in floating homes living, floating homes holidays, how to buy a floating home in the UK and worldwide spots of interest for the floating home.

All this help and advice is available, plus lots more interesting articles that are added regularly to our pages.

Floating Homes are both a practical and aesthetically pleasing home to rent, purchase or take a holiday or break with and our guides will help beginners and experts alike in their quest for floating home information.

The History of Floating Homes

The term ‘floating home’ can mean any type of structure built for living purposes but on water instead of land. Types of floating home vary from houseboats, to barges, to actual house-like structures built on the water. The floating home has developed over the years to become one of the more desirable places to live and also an affordable choice for first time home-buyers. They are now a popular place to reside among those who seek an alternative and, perhaps, simpler lifestyle, but this was not always the case.


Narrowboats were generally used in the past for industrial purposes. More canals were built to take on some of the workload that came with the rise of the Industrial Revolution between the 18th and 19th century. However, the usual boats that were used for transport were unable to wedge through the narrow canals which lead to the invention of the British narrowboat. Their use extended to housing the workers as time went on due to the increasing use of railways instead of the boats and, as a result of this, workers’ financial hardship. The narrowboat was gradually faded out in favour of modern transportation and their restoration into potential homes and holiday homes began. They were still seen as historical artefacts but were redesigned to be more comfortable homes than the workers of the 18th and 19th century may have had.

Barges (Lighters)

Similar to the narrowboat, flat-bottomed barges (or lighters) were used for the transportation of commercial goods. They were created for use on the rivers in the early 1800’s and were powered by workers known as ‘lightermen’. They are slightly different to narrowboats in that they were distinctively larger and sturdier enabling them to carry a large and heavier load, but they were only able to cross the rivers which lead to their demise. The railways began to be seen as a more affordable and more flexible method of transportation of heavy goods and, as they began to take over during the Industrial Revolution, barges were left behind by this development. Barges and lighters are still seen on the water nowadays but there are very little in use for transportation or labour purposes. Most are turned into house barges, the majority being in Britain or Holland.


The general term for the floating home is ‘houseboat’. The popularity of houseboats began to increase during the First World War as housing was scarce and most families faced financial hardship. This led to the use of houseboats as a cheaper source of housing and some families even constructed their own floating homes in order to wait out the war. After the war, these families were able to be housed and people seeking the ‘bohemian’ lifestyle began to populate houseboats. There is a continuing growth in the desirability of houseboats as a cheaper source of housing and this is still seen today. The term ‘floating home’ extends to modern homes built on the water or homes which are built to float in the case of a flood. These are more expensive than the more traditional houseboat however.