Houseboat is any kind of floating home. In the United States and Canada, houseboats are used mainly for pleasure. However, some people use them as permanent homes. Most houseboats are built for use on lakes, rivers, and inland waterways.
Houseboats vary in length from 18 to 80 feet (5.5 to 24 meters) and longer. Most have a wood frame with fiberglass or metal siding. The hull can be made of several materials, including wood, steel, fiberglass, or aluminum. Many houseboats have several rooms and all the conveniences of a house on land, including a stove, refrigerator, running water, heaters, and air conditioners. Generators provide electric power.
Many houseboats are designed to remain in the water all year. Some have retractable wheels and may also be used as a camper or trailer. Houseboats can be permanently anchored. They also can be powered by an engine or sail, or by a combination of engine and sail.
Houseboats have long provided homes for many people throughout the world. In the Orient, people have lived on boats called junks and sampans for hundreds of years. Villages of floating homes and stores are still common in China. During World War II (1939-1945), houseboats were used as United States Navy bases in the Pacific Islands.