From modern designs to cool kitchens – whatever floats on your boat


London It has a range of luxury houseboats as comfortable as new homes, with architect-designed glazing, designer kitchens and sustainable, low-energy features.

Madeline Cooper of Unique Property, which is currently selling the Porte, a three-bedroom concrete floating home for £1.395 million (US$1.6 million) in St Catherine Docks Marina, in East London, with Boffi kitchen and smart home system, said Madeline Cooper of Unique Property.

In St Catherine’s Marina in East London, this £1.3m three-bedroom houseboat is on the lookout for the next owner.

Unique Real Estate Company

Increasingly in London, barges, or live ships, are being purchased as lifestyle purchases. More are being used as second homes, workspaces and even commercial buildings, rather than permanent homes, according to the agents, and the owners are converting them into design-led living spaces.

These watery escapes appeal to people who want a pillow on the weekend in town and travelers who want a sheltered Monday through Thursday, said Ian Titchner of River Homes who specializes in real estate and home craft. Pontoons are livable boats with motors, such as converted Dutch barges, or pontoons (a house without an engine), which can be towed to a different location.

“We’ve seen a huge rise in inquiries from people in the past four weeks who are looking for a floating home like pieds-a-terre,” said John McDavid of Aucoot. “Many people who moved from London during the pandemic now need to return to their offices several times a week,” he added.

More buyers are investing more money in buying a floating home as it is seen as a good investment, according to agents. “In the past, people thought you’d never get your money back on the boat, but its value increases, depending on where the berth is,” Ms Cooper said.

Interior view of the harbour, a three-bedroom concrete floating home currently asking for about US$1.6 million.

Unique Real Estate Company

more: Luxurious floating house in London asking for 2.5 million pounds

What is the appeal?

There is so much to love about the houseboat that lives in London. City boat living offers a relaxed lifestyle immersed in nature, with stunning views of the sky and extraordinary vantage points for futuristic and historic cityscapes.

London also has a number of vibrant floating communities that provide a sense of belonging among boat owners. They include the Hermitage Wharf in Wapping which only includes historic ships, such as river barges.

Interior view of the three-bedroom Thames Barge currently asking £408,000.

Unique Real Estate Company

However, the main attractions of the pontoon boat are the location it offers and the reasonable price per square foot.

The Modern House Bosco, a converted contemporary barge in Battersea is up for sale for £1.5m, renovated by its architectural owners. said James Klonaris, president of Initial Appraisals for Modern Home.

Mr MacDavid said some people are successfully renting their boats in London via short-stay sites like Airbnb because they are interesting, quirky and usually in a good place.

more: Living in the River Thames: Two luxury pontoons in London prepare to set sail

the prices

Cooper said London floats at the upper end of the market are priced between £1m and £3m.

Ian Titchener, who has been selling pontoons to RiverHomes for the past eight years, said some of my clients have been puzzled about how a pontoon can cost so much, but it’s the boat plus the marina that gives it its value. “Right now, if this is the right boat at the right price, it will sell out quickly,” he said.

Typical amenities

Mr. Klonaris added that much of the floating home’s value derives from its anchorage, location, height and stature, however, its design is an important factor in its desirability. The aforementioned Bosco Hotel, for sale for £1.5m, has a gorgeous glass and steel garden room on its deck and cinema room.

“Bosco occupies a great location in Battersea, but a great deal of its value lies in how beautifully it is arranged as a home,” he said.

Mr. McDavid explained that people are outfitting the boats with an emphasis on design. “Living in a narrow boat had somber connotations of a ‘mesh-curtained caravan.’ These days, people are hiring architects and designers and installing marble countertops, high-end appliances, solar-powered panels and incinerators for off-grid living, as well as underfloor heating. and smart thermostats.


“Boats are very expensive purchases, so they have to be the best,” Cooper said. “They should have well-thought-out designs so that you don’t feel like you’re losing out in any way. Previously, living in a houseboat was not a luxury and was sometimes seen as a last resort. That has changed dramatically in recent years.

London has a number of fully equipped berths with long-term residential pontoon berths. They provide electricity, pumping boats and sewer service, mail and delivery service, broadband, Waitrose food delivery, gates and security cameras, off-street parking, and even recreational facilities like a gym and swimming pool.

more: Floating on the River Thames, this London houseboat offers luxurious marine life

What you need to know

Most pontoons are purchased as cash purchases or with a combination of cash and a personal loan. It is possible to obtain a mortgage on a floating home through a specialized marine finance company. If the floating home you are buying comes with title registered with the Land Registry, it may be possible to obtain a loan through a traditional mortgage lender. The good news is that pontoons are exempt from stamp duty in the UK

The berth rental fee is the largest fixed cost for boat owners. Annually renewable berths, rented and freehold berths provide greater security of tenure. The alternative is a sailing license where you have to move your boat every two weeks.

Buyers will need to insure the boat with a 10% deposit to secure the sale. A pre-purchase survey is recommended on the boat (whether it’s an out-of-water survey or an on-water survey, if the latter has been done recently) to ensure it is in a safe condition, Mr. Titchener said. It is also wise to hire an attorney to verify the details of the boat’s ownership and the document of sale, which is essentially the purchase receipt.

Ms. Cooper advised that when it comes to residential marinas, do your research because there are some companies that do not invest money in facilities.