Building your own small house barge is a good weekend pastime that will encourage you to take advantage of the outdoor and aquatic scenery. A house barge is a small, family or single-person boat that is equipped for traveling short distances and living. Some people decide to live on their house barges permanently, while others use them as weekend or holiday getaways.
Building the Keel and Deck - Calculate how much weight you would like your house barge to be able to carry. You should use one of the barrels (55 gallons per barrel) for every 500 pounds that you wish to load onto your barge. This includes the weight of all appliances, furnishings and the materials of the barge itself. It is better to overestimate rather than underestimate the weight. Estimate for at least 10 passengers, each of whom weight 200 or more pounds. Weigh your building materials either at the point of purchase or upon delivery.
Build the keel. Lay out the 2-by-6-inch pieces of wood on their narrower sides, forming five rows of "joists" (shorter pieces of wood that connect to a larger object or piece), with each row encompassing a row of barrels. You should use at least five joists for a moderate-size barge, as this will allow for three rows of barrels, which will give your barge greater stability. Attach the joists and the barrels together using marine-grade screws. The combination of joists and barrels is your barge deck.
Use marine-grade hardware (bolts, nuts, screws and washers) to construct a fitted wooden frame using the 2-by-4-inch pieces of wood. The frame must fit snugly and be flush with the deck. The frame should wrap around the entire deck.
Nail or screw in the ends of the joists so that they attach to the frame. Screw in the ends of the outer barrels to the frame.
Lay down the top of your deck using the plywood sheets. Fit the sheets to the dock so that there is no overhang or shortage. The plywood sheets should be placed edge-to-edge and should touch the barrels and the frame. Screw the plywood onto the frame and the barrels. Nail or screw in the ends of the joists so that they attach to the frame. Screw in the ends of the outer barrels to the frame.
Build the Living Quarters - Decide how large you would like your living quarters to be. House barges are not intended to be luxury accommodations, and it is important to keep in mind that the larger the living quarters, the less room there will be for the deck. Cut the sheets of galvanied aluminum to the specifications that you would like. Leave enough room for an entrance way.
Weld the pieces together to form a rectangular shape and attach them using metal T-joints and screws to the floor of the deck. The T-joints should be spaced at most 1 foot apart. Attach T-joints with screws to the top of the living quarters so that the outside piece faces into the center of the living quarters.
Attach the curtain rod and curtain to the top of the entrance way of your living quarters. Attach the outboard motor to the back of your barge, following the motor installation instructions. The instructions will vary depending on the type and brand of motor you buy.
Weld together the corrugated steel panels until you have a rectangular sheet that is larger than the circumference of the living quarters by 6 inches. This is your roof. Attach the corrugated roof onto the living quarters frame by screwing the corrugated roof onto the upper T-joints.
Paint your house barge. Choose a weather- and water-proof paint to make it last longer. Cover the entire barge with sealant and water protectant to make your barge last longer.