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Old 19-02-2016, 21:28   #1
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Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Hypothetically if one were able to purchase an empty waterfront lot with a dock that could accommodate a "liveaboarrd" boat, are there any barriers to installing a pump out station, shore power, etc to land utilities on the property and using the boat as one's residence? I couldn't find anything on this subject, but I imagine getting a sewer system hooked up with a single wastewater line/clean out and an electrical supply could be done (not sure if it's legal without a building however).

I don't know if anyone has done this before, but assuming (A) one doesn't have the funds to pay for a primary residence AND a boat that you could take long tips on and (B) one has the funds to pay for a nice boat and can get an affordable property (something with a mortgage that would equate to liveaboard marina costs) it might be an attractive option to have a place to call "home." Anyone heard of anyone doing something like this? Or having a holding tank pump out and shore power on a dock at their waterfront house?
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Old 19-02-2016, 21:36   #2
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Totally depends on where you buy the lot. Would help to give you a better answer if you gave a rough idea of what part of the world you're in.
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Old 19-02-2016, 22:54   #3
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Better to put a small cabin on the property to officially call home and run services to the dock from it. Would keep the tax man happier that way. BTW where are you located?
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Old 19-02-2016, 22:55   #4
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Most of the USA has zoning laws and they are especially prevalent in built up areas. In order to legally take up residence, they almost always require a house.

You pretty much have two choices:
- Get land in an undesirable area (fairly rare on the water with nice boat access).
- Do it illegally and fly under the radar. (getting utilities in, electric, water, sewer can be difficult without a good justification) You may be able to put up a pole barn and get electric. Water & sewer are more likely to be questioned. If you take the boat out, you can dump offshore and get a fresh water tank to put in the back of your pickup and once a week fill up.

PS: The tax man would actually prefer no house as most states have a much lower property tax for your homestead. Kind of a catch 22, if you want the lower property tax, you pay for a house. If you don't pay for a house, you pay full property tax rates.
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Old 19-02-2016, 23:19   #5
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Here they tax you on the value of the property as well as the assessed value of the buildings on the property. (Washington state)
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Old 20-02-2016, 00:30   #6
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Laws vary (duh).

1)Check into exceptions for rv site vs. house, might be able to use that for plumbing, etc.

2)Some building permits are almost eternal before requiring you to finish the house, build garage first with "mud room", including laundry, head, shower, etc.

3)Buy waterfront house and rent the house, keeping dock and garage with "mud room" for yourself. Tenants could use the dock while you're cruising.
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Old 20-02-2016, 05:29   #7
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

I bought an acre on a deep creek branching off the St. Johns River in North Florida thirty-five years ago with this plan in mind. At this time I had a 33' boat that we had been living aboard for seven years and I could just clear a 45' bridge to access my land. There was a small cut into my property where my boat fit perfectly and I had cut some overhead limbs to position myself well.

I was faced with many of the covenants & restrictions to the property as valhalla 360 has described above such as minimum square footage for a structure, but I did gain approval for a dock platform, septic tank and electrical pole; however the electric lines were not yet supplying this undeveloped area.

I knew that the properties here were scheduled to receive electrical service and I had assumed that the power would be coming from the nearby highway; however, I was dismayed to drive down to my property at one time and see that they were preparing to bring the electrical lines across the creek between my lot and the open river. My deed did not include riparian rights and I was powerless!

In 1985 I bought our current ketch that does not have bridge clearance to reach this area and I sold the waterfront acre in 2000. The land still proved to do be well for cruising and living aboard because the money from the sale paid for a replacement engine, generator, new sails and more.

I'm pleased with the final outcome because we do much cruising and I would have used the private dock only a few months of each year for the past 14 years. Also, the property tax that I would have been paying annually would be similar to the amount of money I spend annually on marina stays.

If I had kept access to the property without the block of the 35' clearance power lines, I would likely be pleased with that outcome too. There's a huge variety of great outcomes with living aboard!
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Old 20-02-2016, 05:39   #8
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF,KJDBonez.
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Old 20-02-2016, 09:12   #9
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

A very interesting question. Assuming you're in the US, I think the short answer is yes, if allowed by big brother. If you proceed without approval you'll be exposed to fines and other costs (including having to remove everything that was done).

My advice is, determine what your "use" would be defined as under the applicable federal, state, and local regulations. Many of the regulations are availlable either online and at local municipal offices. The definition of use may vary depending on which regulatory authorities have juridiction over the various aspects of your project.

Take a look at local zoning/land use regulations (if they exist) for a definition that closest fits your use, and see if the use is allowed. "Marina" might be the closest fit, as these typically function with shore power at the slips and sometimes have pump out facilities and are not usually associated with shoreside dwellings. Be careful with this designation as it may be a commercial use category with higher tax and insurance implications. Hopefully you can find a "use" that closer fits your needs other than marina.

Local zoning/land use may also describe water uses allowed, or at least clue you in to other regulations/agencies governing shoreline, rivers, and other waters.

If the use is allowed the actual construction aspects will likely be governed under the Army Corps of Engineers, and state and local building, plumbing, electrical codes. Depending on condition and cost of the antipated work, the existing pier may need beefing up (or rebuilding entirely) to properly support sewage piping and electrical conduits.

After you've done some homework and are confident you can do this would be the time to talk to local officials, get them on-board, and find out what you need to do to proceed. Variability in officials knowledge, demeanor and interpretation of regulations is all over the map. They often ask for more than is actually required (which you might do, just to get approval). Best to be armed with copies of applicable regulations when you do this, and always be respectful.

Another approach to the whole issue (if you can't find any regulations that say you can't) would be run electric only down the pier, install sewer/septic on the property, get a rolling pump out cart, don't tell anybody your intent to liveaboard, and cross your fingers. Thats a lot less permitting/cost but more exposure to big brother.

Just my thoughts (I'm not a lawyer or offering legal advice). Hope this was helpful and all works out for you!
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Old 20-02-2016, 09:36   #10
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Buy a condo with a dock. Cannot liveaboard in most cases. But rent the condo and obtain free dock-space for the cost of the mortgage and maintenance fees. When you are done make a tidy profit on the condo. I am doing just that in SoFla.
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Old 20-02-2016, 09:50   #11
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KJDBonez View Post
Hypothetically if one were able to purchase an empty waterfront lot with a dock that could accommodate a "liveaboarrd" boat, are there any barriers to installing a pump out station, shore power, etc to land utilities on the property and using the boat as one's residence? I couldn't find anything on this subject, but I imagine getting a sewer system hooked up with a single wastewater line/clean out and an electrical supply could be done (not sure if it's legal without a building however).

I don't know if anyone has done this before, but assuming (A) one doesn't have the funds to pay for a primary residence AND a boat that you could take long tips on and (B) one has the funds to pay for a nice boat and can get an affordable property (something with a mortgage that would equate to liveaboard marina costs) it might be an attractive option to have a place to call "home." Anyone heard of anyone doing something like this? Or having a holding tank pump out and shore power on a dock at their waterfront house?

Don't know the location you're contemplating; however, I've been looking for years for such a property in Florida to take a 43ft vessel and nothing available under $250,000. You'll be paying taxes for a serviced lot and utility usage. Good luck.
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Old 20-02-2016, 10:06   #12
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

I have seen real estate listings for this type of property, usually somewhere in North or South Carolina, or in Maine. Small house and a deepwater dock, some with and some without power and water at the dock. I would guess properties in Maine would not worry too much about power lines or bridges suddenly constricting the airspace for your mast.
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Old 20-02-2016, 12:25   #13
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

In Florida it"s checking with zoning Regs. Then permits, permits permits. Generally a permit for everything from dock to electric, water, sewer, boat lift if desired ect.ectr.
Good luck on your quest!
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Old 20-02-2016, 12:39   #14
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

Thanks for so many replies - I thought that might have been an odd question and I wouldn't hear back.

Currently I live in Detroit, but I'm planning to move Southeast (either gulf coast, or atlantic). This probably won't happen for 1.5 - 2 years and I'm not sure where I'll be going yet, so I just thought I'd put out some feelers to see if it could be done.. and it looks like it has been by at least one of you.

I guess when it gets closer to the time I'll have to look into to zoning laws at the places I narrow it down to. I don't need to be in a large metropolitan area or in a well-developed residential area, although I know that most waterfront property in the southeast is probably fairly developed already.

Basically I was hoping to get some property that I can have a dock with deep water access, probably with at least a pole barn to keep a car and other storage, and then run the utilities to a boat. Eventually I'd probably build a house there, but live on the boat until I have the funds for that.
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Old 20-02-2016, 12:48   #15
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Re: Liveaboard at the empty waterfront lot you own?

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Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
Buy a condo with a dock. Cannot liveaboard in most cases. But rent the condo and obtain free dock-space for the cost of the mortgage and maintenance fees. When you are done make a tidy profit on the condo. I am doing just that in SoFla.
I assume that the condo you bought allows liveaboard then? If not how are you getting around that?
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