Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Floating back home

floating homes along David Foster Way, Fisherman's Wharf
In April, we walked miles along delightful oceanside trails in Vancouver and Victoria. Nothing beats a view from the shore to help you take in the immensity of wild nature or dense city - a way to step back, as it were. We spent a wonderful day on a marathon hike around the edge of Victoria's James Bay peninsula, from Holland Point, via Ogden Point, along Fisherman's Wharf to the Inner Harbour.

It was here, along the edge of  unimproved (for now at least, do see this) wee Heron Cove, that we stopped to watch a heron, two loons and a hummingbird. A 180 turn and the local floating home (not to be confused with houseboats, which have motors) community revealed itself. I love the colours, the planes, the individual styles, the reflections in the water. Wonder if I would love the life?

I've been checking realtors' sites this morning (no, just browsing thanks.) One of the first things that strikes me is the variety of decor, from suburban living room, to pirate funky, to hipster beachcomber to cool minimalist. And the sizes - in one article I read, an owner was whingeing about the high costs of maintaining his three-storey, 1700 square foot float home. Other folks seem to do nicely with eight or nine hundred square feet.

The life style is so appealing. Imagine feeding seals from your window (oh, wait, I read somewhere that's against the rules) or launching your canoe from your deck? The gentle motion and the creaking of your home on the tide. But what about those nights of gale force wind?

Of course, like anyone's life anywhere, floating home daily living would have its challenges. I'm guessing density, proximity, noise, winter damp and summer tourist crowds might pop up as issues. Fees, maintenance costs, regulations and rules, like in everyone else's life.

part of the city, but apart
The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority website provides answers to technical questions such as licenses and standards. Lots to think about. What about a mortgage?

A brief search offered up a range of floating neighbourhoods to choose from, from Vancouver's False Creek to Victoria's picturesque Fisherman's Wharf,
or spots along the Fraser River in Richmond, and Ladner. This article provides a complete list, if you're comparing neighbourhoods. It contains an interview with a float home-dwelling realtor.

We visited a dear friend living at the entrance to Vancouver's Granville Island. Near the Emily Carr University complex, we came upon the Granville Island Sea Village floating neighbourhood. Most homes were modernist in style, but one made an attempt at Victorian gable and bargeboard. Next door, tiny water taxis wait to ferry residents across False Creek to the buzz of downtown Vancouver, and acres of parks and miles of seawall (here's a handy map) offer room to stretch your sea legs. Your grocery stop would be the Granville Public Market. What is not to love?

Looks like watery real estate is as hot as all the rest on the left coast. Here are a couple of realtor links. Stephen Foster gives you a rather smarmy tour of a gorgeous spot in the Fisherman's Wharf float home community, and Ricki Willing's site offers a gallery of photos and some listings. Have a look?

Here's another perspective, thanks to the National Post.
And here's the Fisherman's Wharf floathome village Facebook page
And an article on an upscale floating home bobbling on the waters of Coal Harbour, in Vancouver Magazine.

Made any plans yet?


  1. Very interesting. And this coincides with a CBC article from yesterday (May 1, 2017), about floating homes in Toronto.

  2. Good read, Brian. Don't think I would undertake the on-board lifestyle anywhere but the west coast! Hardy souls!