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International Marine builds many floating villages

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by Daily Commercial News last update:Oct 29, 2007

There are 500 floating homes in San Francisco, another 500 in Seattle, 500 in Vancouver and 3,500 in Portland, Oregon. International Marine has built many of them.
Builder Dan Wittenberg of International Marine Flotation Systems lived in his unique home on the Fraser River, British Columbia. The floating concrete island he designed is the foundation for 500 homes. Wittenberg’s home was designed by architect Mark Ankeman.
Builder Dan Wittenberg of International Marine Flotation Systems lived in his unique home on the Fraser River, British Columbia. The floating concrete island he designed is the foundation for 500 homes. Wittenberg’s home was designed by architect Mark Ankeman.

There are 500 floating homes in San Francisco, another 500 in Seattle, 500 in Vancouver and 3,500 in Portland, Oregon. International Marine has built many of them.

It took a couple of years for Wittenberg to get all his ducks in a row when he first proposed building floating concrete homes. “Previously you couldn’t get mortgages, insurance, building permits, environmental approvals, etc. for homes floating on water because the building and regulating authorities didn’t understand the concept,” said Wittenberg.

“Our homes are built as sturdy and reliable as any traditional home on land. The first rule in designing a floating home is thou shalt not sink.”

He had to persuade more than 30 regulatory bodies, from building inspectors to fire departments, to mortgage lenders, that it could be done within their regulations. When he finally got them all on side, Wittenberg created Canoe Pass Floating Village on the Fraser River estuary in Ladner, 20 kilometres south of Vancouver.

The floating village currently has 50 homes. It is part of Heron’s Nest Marina, which offers the added amenities of a covered parking area on shore, tennis courts, sewage connections, telephone connections, mail service and cable TV. Wittenberg lived in one of them for several years.

It’s a 1,750-square-foot wood-frame house designed by Vancouver architect Mark Ankenman. The wood frame is anchored to the concrete box, which has a styrofoam interior lining. The Fraser River has a significant tidal change so the home and its surrounding floating walkways rise and fall with the tide and there is usually a gentle, sometimes imperceptible, movement to the house with wave action on the river.

In the master bedroom Wittenberg had a water bed suspended on chains from the ceiling and the bed in motion lulled him and his wife to sleep most nights.

Prices on homes built by Wittenberg’s firm range from $400,000 to $3 million. His firm has also built floating concrete platforms for a wide range of commercial operations.

last update:Oct 29, 2007

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