OASys Defined

This month we’d like to set the record straight: our floating structure product, OASys (Ocean Architecture System) is not a houseboat. We understand the confusion. After all, we are marine architects who specialize in designing spirit-of-tradition yachts. We launched Immerst to move into the residential architecture business using what we know about marine technology. So while an OASys does float and it functions as a living space, it is not a houseboat.

A general consensus on what constitutes a floating home was outlined by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:

Constructed on a float;

Designed and built to be used as a residential dwelling;

Stationary by being moored or anchored, and not meant for navigation;

Without a means of self-propulsion;

powered by utilities connected to the shore; and

permanently and continuously connected to a sewage system on shore. (Gromicko and Shepard, n.d.)

Houseboats have a motor and are built to be moved. Here’s a great primer on what is/isn’t a floating home.


The terms “floating home” and “houseboat” continue to be used interchangeably by the general public in the States. Real estate site, Zillow, surmises that this is thanks in part to the floating home featured in the movie Sleepless in Seattle which was referred to as a houseboat at the time.


Ending the confusion over what constitutes a floating home took a ruling by the Supreme court in 2013. A Riviera City, Florida man had his floating home seized by city officials under federal maritime law. When the case made its way through the courts, the Supreme court ruled that the homeowner’s floating residence was not a vessel and therefore, maritime law did not apply.


So if your floating structure can move itself, it’s a vessel and houseboats are vessels. And while our entry into the market is technically a floating home, we like to think of ourselves as occupying a different category altogether. A floating home designed by those that know the water best. For more information on OASys and Immerst click here: https://stephenswaring.com/immerst/

Sleepless in Seattle houseboat floating home tour


Ultimate Indulgence: Before & Afters




Have you come across something interesting about aquatecture? We’d love to include it in a future newsletter. Send submissions to scarey@stephenswaring.com.