The idea sounds great but has it ever been done before?
Yes it has, very successfully and very well at such places as Canoe
Pass Village and Wes-Del Marina, both of which are located on the Fraser
River near Ladner. For more information on Wes-Del Marina go to www.floatinghomes.com.
Also the highly regarded Granville Island, in downtown Vancouver, has
a small Floathome community. Other Floathome communities can be found
in Richmond and New Westminster. Our American friends can see great
examples of Floathome living in Sausalito or at Lake Union in Seattle.
In fact, the Tom Hank’s movie “Sleepless in Seattle” focused
global attention on the lifestyle. We are the first legal, fully-serviced
Floathome village in the Greater Victoria area and, to our knowledge,
What makes a Floathome village distinguishable from any other
In the Greater Victoria area, as in most areas where there is local
government, live-aboard boats and Floathomes are either prohibited
or strictly regulated, although some would say without too much success.
Government authorities are quite rightly concerned with the discharge
of sewage, fire control, proper potable water, parking, aesthetics
and taxation. Almost all marinas in this area have been designed and
built to accommodate pleasure boats or fishing boats of varying sizes.
They were not intended for permanent full time dwelling units for people.
The marinas and their facilities were simply not designed to accommodate
floating structures such as Floathomes and the loads they put on docks
and pilings or their power and sewage demands. The Westbay Marine Village
has been specifically engineered to meet all of the requirements for
proper, full service Floathome living. The docks are designed to provide
proper spatial separation for fire safety considerations, noise attenuation
and to maximize view opportunities.
What do you mean by “full services”?
The docks in the Floathome Village portion of the marina are designed
and engineered to provide all necessary life safety and comfort infrastructure
normally associated with a home on land. For example, the dock surface
is concrete, as opposed to wood, both for durability and to reduce
the possibility of slipping when walking on them. Each Marine Lot
(or site where a Floathome may be situated) is serviced with:
safe, proper potable water connections to the municipal
sewage collection system which will collect the sewage
and deliver it to the municipal infrastructure;
domestic power supply to properly power homes of the size
and quality to be moored at Westbay;
state of the art Cablevision and Internet cabling;
fire control stations right on the docks throughout the
natural gas services;
domestic garbage collection;
In addition, the Westbay Marine Village has the other “services” residential
restaurant, café, pub as well as retail stores,
convenience store and news stand right on-site;
all levels of schools within walking distance;
full scale drug store and food shopping facilities just
five blocks away;
terrific municipal recreation facilities (swimming, curling,
hockey rink, lacrosse, soccer, baseball) all just five blocks
tennis courts just 15 minutes walk away along the Westsong
all of the sporting, cultural, arts, medical, educational
and other amenities and assets of British Columbia’s
You will own your own Floathome. Some Floathome owners may wish to
rent their Floathomes during a period of extended absence. We do not
permit short term rentals or Bed & Breakfast type operations or
commercial use of the Floathome. Home offices are acceptable provided
public access is limited and no exterior visible advertising signage
How do you buy a Marine Lot?
Well, the fact is you can not buy a Marine Lot at Westbay Marine
Village. The legal tenure is that of a sub-lease. Westbay Marine Village
leases its water lot of some four acres of land covered by water from
the Federal Department of Transport, the authority responsible for
Victoria Harbour. We have created the plan for the Marine Lots and
established the boundaries of each lot by the plan. There is no legal
subdivision of land registered in the Land Title Office in Victoria
to create any legally defined Marine Lot. Each Floathome Owner will
enter into a Sub-Lease with us for a particular Marine Lot which Sub-Lease
will be acknowledged by the Department of Transport. The terms of the
Sub-Lease will set out the responsibilities and obligations of the
Marina and the Floathome Tenant. The Sub-Lease may be sold by the Floathome
Owner (by way of an assignment) subject to some terms and conditions
required by the Marina and the Department of Transport. For full particulars
of the Sub-Lease please refer to the Westbay Marine Village Standard
Form of Sub-Lease for Floathomes. Once you have entered into the Sub-lease
you will have your Marine Lot for a term which expires on January 31, 2023, unless you are in default of your obligations
under the Sub-Lease. At the present time the Sub-Lease interest is
not registerable in the Victoria Land Title Office although that may
change in the future.
Are Floathomes small and rustic? I want something bigger
Many older Floathomes are rustic and small. They can be very charming
but of questionable construction quality with inadequate means of flotation.
Some are quite unsafe. Floathomes can be constructed to incorporate
just about any design element you can imagine; from basements to elevators,
from hot tubs to wine cellars. Your imagination (and financial realities)
are your limits. We do, however, have Floating Home Design Guidelines
which will govern the process of design of Floathomes that will moor
in our Marina. These Guidelines will help to ensure an attractive,
secure and thoughtful development and thereby help protect your investment
and ours. These Guidelines are not designed to stifle creativity; in
fact we strongly encourage innovation, novelty and even whimsy. Details
of the Floathome Design Guidelines will be discussed with each Floathome
Owner before they enter into an agreement to moor their proposed or
existing Floathome at Westbay Marine Village.
Are Floathomes safe?
If the Floathome has been constructed in accordance with the proper
engineering and construction standards and the Marina where the Floathome
is moored has also been constructed to proper engineering and life-safety
standards for a Floathome Village use, then yes, Floathomes are very
safe. The key is proper engineering and construction to proper standards.
We have incorporated into our Floathome Design Guideline minimum engineering
and construction standards that every Floathome, whether new or existing,
must meet or it will not be permitted to be moored at Westbay Marine
Village. These standards are for the protection of the Floathome Owner
and the Marina. They also ensure lasting value to the Floathome. In
the absence of proof of proper construction and engineering, a Floathome
is not welcome in most reputable Floathome Marinas. All Floathomes
constructed by us will be fully certified by all appropriate engineering
professionals. Fully certified and stamped “as-built” drawings
of their Floathome will be provided to the Floathome Owner as part
of their document package upon completion of their Floathome.
Will I get sea sick?
The answer to this depends on your susceptibility to motion sickness.
Floathomes do not rock very much. They are very stable, but they do
move. It takes some getting used to at first but most people quickly
adapt, gain their sea legs and think no more about it. The movement
you will notice is the rising and falling of your home in conjunction
with the tides. Tidal movement in Victoria Harbour can be as much as
fourteen feet. Sometimes, when the tide is low, the ramps from docks
to shore can be steep. This is considered part of the charm of marine
What size of Floathome can be built on a Marine lot?
The size of the Marine Lot will limit the size of the Floathome.
You are permitted to have a third storey but it is limited to three
hundred square feet no matter the size of the Marine Lot. The typical
Marine Lot at Westbay Marine Village is 750 square feet. Generally after taking into account decks and articulations in
the form, the typical house would be 1,600 to 1,800 square feet. The
largest Marine Lot is 1,000 square feet so the largest home can be
2,300 square feet.
Do I pay real property taxes for my Floathome?
In a word, yes. Floathomes are subject to municipal real property
taxes just as other forms of buildings attract such taxes. You are
taxed on the full fair market value of the Floathome and your leasehold
interest in the Marine Lot.
What other costs will I have to pay?
In addition to any Sub-Lease payments made to the Marina for your
Marine Lot you will have to pay for parking stall rental, insurance
on your Floathome, natural gas consumption, power consumption, water
consumption, telephone and cable service charges just as you would
in any other type of housing you owned.
May I moor a boat to my Floathome?
Almost all Marine Lots will be permitted to moor a boat alongside
the Floathome without charge. Boats moored alongside the Floathome
will be limited to vessels that are not longer than eighteen feet and
having a beam of less than eight feet. The intention is that your “commuter” or
recreation crafts such as kayaks or day sailor boat is alongside. Any
larger vessels must be moored in the boat portion of the Marina.
Is it possible to finance the cost of buying a Floathome
and Marine Lot?
We have arranged financing packages from select Canadian Banks. Most
lending institutions and their staff are not familiar with the
peculiarities of Floathome Sub-Lease tenures and the financial
with the Floathome purchase. We have arranged for conventional
mortgage financing for up to 90% of the fair market value of
the Floathome. Generally the Marine Lot lease payments are not
financed, but contact us for more information on financing options.
Your ability to borrow
is always subject to your capacity to service the debt and your
prior credit history.
Who insures Floathomes?
Generally, it has been hard to find insurers for Floathomes. Since
Floathomes were for a long time unregulated and construction
standards were not enforced by any authority, insurance companies were
to insure them. Westbay Marine Village is designed to meet the
standards of the Federal, Provincial and Municipal authorities. All
must also meet the engineering and construction standards. We
have arranged through our own insurers a package of insurance coverage
for Floathome Owners.
Do I have to build my Floathome right away?
No, but your Sub-Lease payments will begin shortly after you enter
into a Sub-Lease Agreement with us. Once you make the decision to
live on the water you will not want to wait!
What is the process to build a Floathome?
Every Floathome we build is custom designed for each
individual owner. So the process must start with you selecting which
Marine Lot you would like your Floathome to occupy.
You will likely have some idea of the style of Floathome architecture you prefer
(for example Ultra Modern or Arts and Crafts, to name two styles). We will recommend
a designer who is familiar with our Floathome development and construction techniques.
Once you select the Designer, the next step is a series of meetings with the
Designer (at least a couple of which meetings should include our Floathome
Construction Manager), until a preliminary Floathome design is
worked out. The cost of
all design service is at your expense. A typical budget for preliminary design
of a new Floathome is $2,500. - $3,000.
Our exclusive Floathome Building Team can then develop a preliminary cost budget
to build your Floathome to your design specifications. The cost budget to build
will include not only the cost to actually construct the Floathome but also:
costs to place the finished Floathome in the water.
tow it to Westbay Marine
Village from our building site,
the placement of at
least two pilings to keep your floathome in place
connecting your Floathome to Westbay’s dock services and infrastructure.
you have settled on your final design the Designer will produce actual
construction drawings in conjunction with our Marine Engineer who
the float for the Floathome. When all working drawings are complete, our
team will finalize all construction costs.
Can I have input during the construction process?
Yes. However, substantial changes in design or specifications
will result in additional cost.
Am I limited in how much weight I put in my Floathome?
Weight considerations must be addressed in the design
process. Most household furnishings are of no concern. If you are planning
for a hot tub, this must be designed into the float design. Therefore,
the cardinal rule for Floathomes is design in all the things you want
at the outset. The float is designed to support what goes on top of
it, so any extraordinarily weighty items should be planned into the
Is there a warranty on the Floathome?
Our Construction Team will provide a construction warranty
on the Floathome. Other extended warranty options may also be
available. All Floathomes built by our Construction Team are built
to a high
standard with appropriate engineer involvement throughout and
always to our Design Guidelines which sets out the approved Municipal,
and Department of Transport Floathome design requirements.
Contact us if you have more questions or
if you are ready to start enjoying living on the water at Westbay.