How Long Do Houseboats Last?

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The length of time that a houseboat will last is entirely dependent on how much upkeep and maintenance you do. If you let a houseboat sit in the water for years without any maintenance it won’t be long before it will start to fall apart. 

Houseboats can last 50-60 years without too much rebuilding as long as they have been well maintained. You can find used houseboats from the 60s and 70s still for sale and in working condition even today. 

Houseboats that are even older than that can often be found that have been remodeled or repaired so houseboats can last much longer than most of their owners would need them to. 

How To Make A Houseboat Last Longer? 

There are a couple of things you can do to make your houseboat last as long as possible. 

  1. Upkeep
  2. Maintenance 
  3. Updating 

Each of these will help your house stay usable for longer than if you do nothing. A small amount of each of these will often add many years onto the life of the boat. 


The first thing I will discuss is upkeep. Obviously everyone knows they need to do some upkeep work on their houseboat. Maintenance and upkeep can be similar but to me upkeep is things you do to help the normal items on board last longer while maintenance can be preventative or ever repairs after the fact. 

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There are a couple of main areas that you will need to do regular upkeep on your houseboat. The first is any and all wood. Keeping wood properly sealed or painted is vitally important to keep it from rotting or simply falling apart. 

Yes, painting and staining is simple and every “knows” that they should do it but putting in many hours on a regular basis to keep your houseboat fully protected from the elements is a must if you want your boat to last for decades. 

What I always recommend it to have a schedule and do it a section at a time. That way you aren’t spending an entire week painting and staining and instead spend a few hours here or there to do a section. 

The other main area for upkeep is all of the functioning parts of the boat. When putting the boat away for the winter making sure to winterize the water tanks, fuel, etc. is something that can be overlooked but shouldn’t be. You should also make sure to do regular upkeep on all of the parts of your boat. Taking the time to do upkeep on a regular basis is a MUST! 


The second thing you need to do is regular maintenance. This could be anything from making sure your engine stays in good operating order to taking care of the plumbing or electronics. 

Preventative maintenance is ALWAYS cheaper than having to make a repair so be sure and learn the ins and outs of your houseboat and make sure to do maintenance on a good schedule. 

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Just like with the upkeep I like to make a schedule for each maintenance task that needs done over the boating season and then mark it off once it’s done. Break the maintenance up so you don’t get overwhelmed but be sure that it all gets done. 


The third thing that will help your boat last is doing regular updating. Just as with a house things will slowly go out of style and start to show their age. Those things could be cosmetic but they could include the appliances on board and even your engine/engines. 

My wife and I bought a house a few years ago that hadn’t been updated since it had been built about 20 years prior. The entire house was badly in need of some UPDATING. Over the course of two years we updating one area of the house at a time until we had our perfect home. The same can and should be done with your houseboat. 

I would set aside some money every year to use towards updating and update one thing per month, 6 months, a year, or whatever your budget fits. The update can be large or small but just plan on updating things over time rather than having to redo the entire boat at once. 

The other nice thing about updating a houseboat slowly is you get to enjoy each of those updates as they get done. So when you update the bunks, kitchen, bathroom, etc. you get to enjoy each one more after it is updated. 

This not only will help you enjoy your time on board more but it will also help you to not get overwhelmed with needing to update the entire boat at once. 

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A houseboat can last you many decades but only if you do the proper upkeep, maintenance, and updating on a regular basis. Take care of your boat and it will last long enough for many generations to use. 

As always,

Happy boating

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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