The Coolest Floating House: Sarah and Kimo Bertram’s floating house was unlike anything they had ever imagined. Ms. Bertram noticed an ad on Craigslist for a furnished houseboat for rent about three years ago. She had been outbid on more typical houses at the time. They went there on a whim because they wanted to see what it was like.
The most shocking aspect was that it was not in Sausalito, the Bay Area’s famed houseboat hamlet. It was instead in Mission Creek, a hidden backwater canal bordered by tidal shoals and, as a consequence, industrial zones. This little marina with just 20 floating houses was shut off from the rest of the world and basic amenities like food shops for decades.
However, before the Bertrams moved in, the surrounding neighbourhood had already begun to develop rapidly, notably with the construction of the new 43-acre Mission Bay Campus for the University of California. Because of the trees that grown along its banks, the stream retained a rustic, almost rural appearance. They were completely smitten by one other.
Mr. Bertram informed his five-month wife as they went up the gangplank to the home, “Just so you know, I’m going to attempt to purchase this.” Don’t be concerned since it wasn’t up for grabs. They discovered several ties between him and the store’s owner in only a few minutes. Then, three days later, she sold them the house she and her late husband had meticulously built. (Because floating homes often do not qualify for mortgages, the seller paid cash.)
The Bertrams had been at sea for a long time, despite the fact that they were new to the region. Mr. Bertram, now 37 and originally from Hawaii, grew up north of San Francisco. Because of his Hawaiian background, he is an avid surfer. His wife, 31, from Michigan, comes from what she refers to as “the freshwater side of the family.” As the daughter of a boat builder, she spent many summers as a kid aboard a boat that her father had constructed. “So it’s quite soothing for me to feel the home moving,” she said to a visitor as the house softly rocked on its mooring.
Mr. Bertram described it as a vacation on the outskirts of a bustling metropolis, and living alongside seals and seagulls helped them appreciate the ocean even more. They rode their bikes to work in the city every morning. He works for Hyatt Hotels as the vice president of development, while she works for a solar energy firm as the director of public policy. Nonetheless, they wanted to construct the greatest floating house possible.
They sought assistance from Bart Elmer, a general contractor they both knew, and Robert Nebolon, an architect. Despite the fact that they had often collaborated, neither of them had ever designed a home on water. The architect, on the other hand, had constructed buildings on stilts above a bay, “going closer and closer to the sea.” The Bertrams’ new 2,100-square-foot home was constructed on a dry site near a boatyard in Sausalito. It cost over $400,000 to construct and took around six months.
The floating metal house resembles a land-based loft. Because it is permanently attach to a solid concrete barge, it is safe and stable. It features a sawtoothed roof and large metal casement windows that remind us of the area’s manufacturing past. The colour of the front door and the circular staircase leading up to the kitchen, dining room, and living room is also know as Golden Gate Bridge International Orange.
The Bertrams donated the old yacht to the Ecumenical Housing Association. This organisation assists people in finding affordable housing in Sausalito, which is becoming increasingly expensive. They repaire the boat so that it could be use by a new owner.
Following the departure of the first home in November, the moment of truth arrived when its replacement rolled down a boat ramp, touched the water for the first time, and floated to everyone’s relief.
It took three and a half hours for a World War II landing boat to pull it. Around the bay, past Alcatraz, and under bridges to its final mooring. There, at a small boat race, the community welcomed it as if it were a new member of the family. “Everyone in the neighbourhood was out,” Ms. Bertram said, “ready to catch a line and dock it safely.” The Bertrams are now preparing for the arrival of a new baby this summer.