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Couple Turns Shed into a Floating Cottage


Meet the Joneses! Brandon and Sarah were living in a normal house when the opportunity arose for them to purchase what would become a gorgeous houseboat. But at the beginning, it was really just a floating shed without any amenities!

Eventually, the couple and their dog would love to sail the globe together, but this gives them a life on the water while they save up for a new adventure. We got to interview the couple, so enjoy learning more about their life after the photo tour!

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They Sold Their “Land House” to Live Tiny on the Water

Things started out pretty simply.

They had to redo the entire exterior and replace windows.

Getting the interior built out.

Time for some new paint!

Iko, the pup, enjoying life on the water.

Now the spot is really perfect!

And yes, it snows here!

Their main room has the kitchen and living space.

Here’s their cozy bedroom.

And the compact bathroom.

Swimming every day!

Would you like life on the water?

Enjoy their interview below!

So what’s the story behind your tiny house?

Hi there! We are Sarah, Brandon, and Iko (our pup!). We bought this floating tiny home on Lake Fontana in western North Carolina in spring of 2021. It is 225sqft on the interior, with around 500sqft of dock space. When we bought it, it had no heat, A/C, water, electricity, shower, toilet, etc. Because it was essentially just a floating shack with 0 basic amenities besides the beautiful location, we were able to buy it for an incredibly affordable price that made the prospect of a full renovation still well within our budget after selling our 1000sqft house on land.

Brandon manages the marina that oversees the harbor that the cabin is permanently moored in, and Sarah works for the National Park Service in the Great Smoky Mountains, which borders the lake! So between the proximity to our workplaces and our pre-existing love of spending time on the water, it was a no-brainer for us to make the lake lifestyle a full-time gig!

We spent about 2.5 months working each day after work to fully renovate the floating cabin, stripping it all the way down to the studs and starting from scratch. We plumbed it, wired in solar panels, ran gas lines, replaced windows and insulation, and then finally re-walled & re-floored everything! We did about 95% of the work ourselves to save money (and learn a thing or two!), with the moral support of Iko of course. The renovation costed around $20k in total. We moved in that summer, and have now been living on it full-time for a little over a year!

We have always dreamt of living on a sailboat and traveling around the world in it, but of course we need to save quite a bit of money to turn that dream into a reality one day! So that was a big part of our decision to renovate & move onto the floating cabin. Both from the practical perspective of saving money by going tiny (and flipping a cabin that will one day be worth far more than what we’ve put into it!), as well as for the purpose of gaining valuable skills and knowledge about living life on the water that will also help us be more prepared for the sailing adventure.

We plan to continue living in our little floating oasis for several more years as we grow our “cruising kitty,” (savings for sailing adventures). We feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to not only create such a beautiful and unique home, but also to declutter/streamline our lives and save money along the way! It truly feels like a win-win-win without a downside in sight.

VIDEO: Life on a FLOATING CABIN

Would you like to shout out to anyone who helped you with your tiny house?

Thanks to Fontana Marina for letting us borrow many power tools to use during our renovation, as well as boats to transport materials!! Also a big thanks to Lowell Ball Inc. for providing and framing in our new windows.

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Our big thanks to Sarah and Brandon for sharing!

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Natalie C. McKee

Natalie C. McKee is a contributor for Tiny House Talk and the Tiny House Newsletter. She's a wife, and mama of three little kids. She and her family are homesteaders with sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and quail on their happy little acre.
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Allison Bradshaw
    July 19, 2022, 1:10 pm

    Love your floating cabin and location! Great job with the renovations! Sweet puppy! What kind of dog is he?

  • Marsha Cowan
    July 19, 2022, 4:01 pm

    What a great job you did! And what a fun way to live! The house is lovely and so is the view.

  • vee
    July 19, 2022, 6:55 pm

    Very nice way to live — assume they have access to any emergency care they would need, right, as it seems they are a bit isolated (one of the best parts tho). Folks in No. Calif have lived on houseboats for years and wouldn’t have it any other way!! (Cool deck and nice for the doggie too)!! I do wonder — since they have a regular stove, what do they do for an exhaust (didn’t notice anything)? Nice that they had a good size fridge so maybe don’t have to shop for groceries very often — and — how do they do that? Would be interesting to hear more about their adventure!!!

    • Eric
      July 20, 2022, 3:56 pm

      It’s simple, they open the window(s).

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