I am starting construction of a 12' x 30' barge with the end goal of it becoming a houseboat. There are other possible commercial uses me or someone else could have for a barge only. If an opportunity presents itself before a house is built on it I may complete it as a barge only.
I have more than 100 hours in the design, however simple it might seem, and the method of construction. I am building it not as a deck barge but one that the house will be recessed in the hull. This is what the challenge has been for me. A barge might seem to be the most basic of boat construction but there is more to it than you might imagine. I have looked at many old barges in my area and they are pretty attractive for what they are. They have a low freeboard for easy loading and less windage and upswept rocker in the stern to make less turbulence when they are towed.
I am aware of every detail of how they were built and it would not be practical to copy this design because it would require way too much good quality lumber. They are heavily built. They are made of mostly pine which would rot very quickly if I used the pine available to me locally. I'm not sure whether they used longleaf pine but I am sure it was an old growth more rot resistant pine that I have access to now. These old barges were used to haul spat (seed oysters) and lumber and whatever else needed moving.
Pictures of the 1 to 7.5 scale model barge.