SPECIAL AGENTS HOUSEBOATS: HOUSEBOATS & BARGES, FLOATING HOMES, & WATERFRONT HOMES IN SEATTLE, LAKE UNION, & PUGET SOUND
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SPECIAL AGENTS HOUSEBOATS: HOUSEBOATS & BARGES, FLOATING HOMES, & WATERFRONT HOMES IN SEATTLE, LAKE UNION, & PUGET SOUND 401 N. NorthLake Way #2, Seattle, WA 98103 United States

Floating On-Water Residence Page

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Floating On-Water Residence Page

Fillable Forms and Instructions available below

The new Seattle Shoreline Master Program went into effect on June 15, 2015! There are new requirements for what used to be called Houseboats and House barges. (Not to be confused with floating homes – See our On-Water Property Definitions Page)

What does this mean for Houseboats in Seattle?

  • A structure will be considered a Floating On-Water Residence if it was moored pursuant to a lease or ownership interest in a Marina within the City, prior to July 1, 2014 and was used as a dwelling unit.
  • Houseboats are required to be verified as Floating On-Water Residences
    • Applicants will pay a one-time fee to receive a verification number
    • Submit an application for verification with pictures, dimensions, a sketch, and proof of moorage in the City prior to July 1, 2014.
  • Verification Numbers will be assigned and must be displayed in a prescribed manner on the Floating On-Water Residence.
  • Houseboats may be expanded with height restrictions, but may not change in footprint size.
  • Expansion is allowed up to 120 square feet and is subject to height limitations, unless graywater is contained and disposed of properly, or the Floating On-Water residence is connected to a City waste-water system.
  • Houseboats may be replaced, but are subject to the same footprint, height, and expansion requirements.
  • A one-time expansion of footprint is allowed for safety reasons, as certified by a Naval Architect. If footprint is expanded, no other expansion may occur.
  • Open Railings may be added to decks and stairs, but if over height restriction, are limited to 36 inches.
  • A Floating On Water Residence may be relocated and owners should update verification records within 60 days. Failure to update may result in enforcement action, but does not forfeit right to maintain the Floating On-Water Residence.
  • No New Houseboats are allowed in Seattle Waters.
  • Vessels with Dwelling Units that were moored in Seattle Waters prior to 6/15/2015 are allowed, but are required to be verified and must be designed and used for navigation. These will be verified using a different form and have different requirements than Floating On-Water Residences.

The forms are available here and are also available through the Department of Planning and Development’s Floating Residences page.

GET A HEAD START!  Download the official forms here!

TIP 229
Client Assistance Memo 229 – describing the rules for Floating On-Water Residences, House-barges, and Vessels with Dwelling Units.
Definition Sheet
This document describes which form you need to submit based on the type of floating residence you have.
Floating On-Water Residence Form
This is the form to be completed to obtain verification of a Floating On-Water Residence. It also indicates what supplemental information must be included with the application and how to pay the required application fee.
Vessel Containing Dwelling Unit Form
This is the form to be completed to obtain verification of a Vessel with Dwelling Unit. It also indicates what supplemental information must be included with the application and how to pay the required application fee.
House Barge Verification Form
This is the form to be completed by house barges as defined in the previous Shoreline Master Program (circa 1990). There are approximately 34 house barges in Seattle Waters.
1. The house barge was moored at a recreational marina in the City of Seattle before July 1, 1990; and
2. A permit for the house barge was secured from the DPD verifying that the house barge existed and was used for residential purposes
within the City of Seattle before July 1, 1990 and has been continuously used since that time.