Thanks to a flurry of films and pop culture references, Seattle has become synonymous with floating homes and the romanticized ideal of living on the water. Since the late 19th century, clusters of floating home communities have thrived on the freshwater lakes and bays just north of the city center, with many of today’s residences still sitting atop historic floats. Luxe sat down with Ren Chandler, founder of Seattle-based Dyna Builders, for his unique insight into the special challenge of constructing on water.
How did you get started working on floating homes? I started Dyna in 1999, and we built our first floating home in 2009 after an architect asked us to collaborate on a new build atop an existing log raft. We jumped at the chance and have been building them ever since.
What are the biggest challenges of building on water? We like to say that building floating homes is like the Wild West since we can’t use many traditional means and methods. For example, you can’t use a level or lasers like you can on land, so we spend much more time making sure things are level and plumb. Mechanical systems are challenging, so we have to plan very carefully. We use divers all the time either for adjustments in the flotation or to fish out tools that have fallen in the water.
What’s your favorite thing about building floating homes? It’s inherently fun being on the water, but there’s also different kinds of problems to solve every day. We’re dealing with weights and cranes, buoyancy and flotation, all while watching marine traffic go by. Floating houses are such an important part of the personality of our city, and we’re committed to building homes that reflect that unique character.