THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL about living on the water — and the aqua-obsessed people who are lured to it.

Houseboats and floating homes represent the Seattle-iest of Seattle lifestyles, even without the influence of that one movie we promised ourselves we wouldn’t type out loud.

The entry to Big Time is between patterned windows and opens to the dock. While COVID-19 scuttled most peer-to-pier encounters over the past year, owner Chris Ballard says, over the summer, “Everybody was socializing 6 feet apart on the dock, just to see people. It’s a very nice community of interesting people.” (Courtesy
Meet the family of craftsmen behind Haggard Houseboats — and peek aboard their distinctly designed watertop homes

Haggard Houseboats, a prevailing fixture along and atop Seattle waters for more than 15 years, captures the essence and the essentials of watertop living. Since they founded their family business in 2006, Bill Haggard and his son Riley Haggard have designed and crafted coveted floating residences built for fun and function, utility and artistry, moorage and storage.

You can’t help but feel a tug toward water life when you see one of their houseboats in action. (You can tie your kayak to your house?) So just wait until you see this week’s cover story, and an armada of charming/gorgeous/intriguing Haggard Houseboats all at once.

That wood! Those windows! The views! Tempted to jump on board with the whole floating experience? Here’s a handy checklist of real-life-on-water things to consider:
Can you downsize? “A lot of [houseboat owners] are minimalists; they enjoy having a small space and see that as a fun thing to figure out,” Riley says.
Can you balance? “Oh, we’re tippy; we’re bouncy,” he says. “When the lake is real busy, you’re moving around a lot. You’ve gotta get your sea legs and get comfortable with that much movement.”
Can you power down? “You don’t have a big electrical system. You’re working off of shore power and shore water,” Riley says. “It’s not like you have endless power to run every device in your house. You have to be mindful.”
Can you coexist? “You know, you’re living with people really close to you,” he says.
Can you focus? “You [have to be] real attentive to what’s happening; your house is a living, breathing organism, like you are,” he says. “If it’s real windy today, batten your hatches.” (Yes! That’s a real phrase!)


There are more considerations, of course — financial, practical, emotional. There are always more, even for unwavering landlubbers.

But, just try to envision this tiny slice of lifestyle — on a Seattle-perfect day, buoyed by gentle waves, gentle breezes and the gentle contentment of life aboard a finely crafted houseboat — without envisioning yourself right there:     

“There are a lot of nice communities in the marinas,” Riley says. “At Gas Works Marina, in quarantine, they were social-distancing happy hour for the entire marina. Everyone was toasting and talking to each other from their roof decks.”