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Floating Home Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the Floating Homes Located?
All of our Floating Homes are located within a Marina's Harbor on Norris Lake in East Tennessee. They cannot be moved off of Norris Lake. They can be relocated to other marinas around the lake (if the marina has room for it within their harbor). Please contact the Listing Broker of the Floating Home you're interested in to find out which of the 24 marinas on Norris Lake the home is located within.

Floating Homes For Sale on Norris Lake TN
Photo courtesy of Powell Valley Resort

How much does it cost to move a Floating Home from one marina to another?
This cost depends on the distance between the two marinas, anywhere from $3,500 to $5,000 will cover the average move.

How do I get to/from the home?
You need a boat to get to/from the parking lot to the Floating Home. No marinas on the lake offers a Ferry Service that will take you or your guests to/from the home. You will need your own boat or pontoon to be able to come/go as you please. Most marinas also offer slips for your runabout/pontoon if you want to leave a boat at their marina for an additional fee. The additional slips are often discounted to houseboat/floating home owners that are already renting another space within the marina. Some marinas will require you to keep a slip for a runabout/pontoon if you have a houseboat or Floating Cabin moored out within their harbor. We recommend a pontoon boat with a 4-Stroke motor. Pontoon boats are great compliments of any Floating Cabin owner as they are typically dock-height which allows for easy on/off, as well as loading groceries, gear, luggage, etc. The 4-Stroke motors are generally reliable engines that rarely will leave you stranded when properly maintained.

How much is vehicle parking?
Currently every marina on Norris Lake offers free parking to their guests. However at several marinas preferred/reserved parking is available for an additional fee.

Do you pay a monthly fee for the Floating Home? What is the cost of ownership?
Since the cost of ownership can vary from home to home and marina to marina, these will be general answers to apply to all homes on the lake. Feel free to contact the Listing Broker of the Floating House you're interested in to obtain the specific costs of ownership that applies to a specific home.

While most of the floating homes are not located within a catwalk slip, they still occupy space within a marina's harbor and home owners will still pay a Mooring Fee. We have 24 Marinas on Norris Lake and fees will vary from marina to marina. Most marinas will require an annual lease to rent a space on their mooring line or a slip on a catwalk. Most marinas charge their mooring fees monthly, though some require annual payments, and others will offer a discount if you pay annually instead of monthly. Mooring fees on Norris Lake for Floating Homes can run anywhere from $250/month plus utilities to $400/month plus utilities.

Utilities consist of Waste Pumpouts, Water & Electric. All homes are required to have their waste pumped out regularly, some marinas will include pumpouts in their monthly mooring charge, others it is additional. On average (when waste pumpouts are not included in your mooring fee) you can expect to pay $650/season (the season runs from April to October and you're pumped out every 2 weeks).

Water is sometimes provided by the marina where the home is moored. When it is provided sometimes it's included in the monthly mooring fee, other times there is a small monthly or yearly charge for water. When water is not provided by the marina most homes will be equipped with a Lake Water Pump. Lake Water Pumps can simply be a lake water pump that is used for sinks or showers and a home owner carries water for drinking or cooking aboard. Other homes are equipped with a Water Maker System that treats lake water for drinking. These systems can be added to any home for a cost. Most systems cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 installed.

Electric/shore power is not available at every marina. When power is available most home owners will have their electric metered and read either monthly or quarterly by either the marina or local utility company. Most marinas require the home owner to purchase and maintain the shore power cable to the home which consists of under water mining cable that runs from the shoreline down the lake bottom then up to the home. This cable is an expense for the home owner. And depending on the distance a home is from the shore can easily costs a couple of thousand dollars to purchase and install. If a home is hooked to power and the cable is being included in the sale the listing will usually state: "Shore Power Included". If the current mooring site is available for a buyer to keep the house where it currently sits the listing will usually state: "Norris Lake Mooring Location Available".

Is Cell Phone and Internet Service Available on Norris Lake?
Cell Phone Service is limited depending on the location of the marina. Feel free to contact the Listing Broker to find out if the home you're interested in is in a cell friendly area.

Internet Service is also limited throughout the lake, however Starlink is widely used by Floating Cabin and Houseboat Owners that must have internet while they're at the lake. Only a handful of marinas offer wifi along their catwalk slips, however others will have wifi available at their on-water restaurant's patio, you can see where it's available at the Facilities Guide link below:

Norris Lake Marina Association - Facilities Guide.pdf

Note - some marinas offer wifi, but it's only available at their restaurant, at other marinas wifi is available throughout their harbor. It's best to contact the marina directly to verify if this or any other amenity is of high importance.

How do I go about having a new Floating Home Built?
New construction is prohibited on Norris Lake or any other TVA Reservoir. No expansions of any kind are permitted either upward or outward, of interior or exterior footprint. Any changes beyond cosmetic should be approved in writing by TVA.

Are there more homes available for purchase that are not listed on this site?
There is a limited number of Floating Homes on the lake. With new construction banned there is a high demand and low supply. There are a few For Sale By Owners homes throughout the lake. Most homes that are on the market will be represented by YourNewBoat.

Can I rent a Floating Home for Vacation?
Yes. Flat Hollow Marina and Whitman Hollow Marina both offer Floating Homes for rent. They also offer Rental Programs for Home Owners.  

I can't decide between a Floating House and a Factory Built Houseboat, any advice or what are the big differences?
I've actually had customers go both ways with this. I've had houseboat owners buy a floating house. And I've had floating house owners buy a houseboat.
The answer really boils down to one big question, how do you intend to use the vessel?
Are you going to use it as a boat?  Meaning do you want a "home-base" and you plan to use your smaller boat to explore the lake?  Do you like marina life and being social among your boat neighbors?
Or, do you want to get in your houseboat, leave the marina and it's amenities (electric, water, etc) and go stay in a quiet cove somewhere for the weekend or longer?
The floating house will typically lend more space as they are wider than a typical houseboat. To some, a houseboat will feel like a camper, whereas a floating house reminds them of being in a home.
From a maintenance standpoint the floating house can be built as well as an aluminum hull houseboat. However both do require maintenance.  For a floating house to be most comparable to an aluminum houseboat it would need to have the new style flotation (encapsulated styrofoam), a galvanized frame that separates the floatation from the decking, composite or vinyl decking, and vinyl siding.  When you have all of these items (most do not) it will typically be less maintenance than an aluminum houseboat. But you will still have roof maintenance (as you would on a houseboat) but you typically would not have an engine or outdrive to maintain, nor would the exterior side walls require waxing.

For all friends of the Floating Homes, including current owners & prospective buyers, we recommend becoming involved with the efforts that the Tennessee Valley Floating Home Alliance (TVFHA) is undertaking by visiting:

If you have additional questions, please click here to email us it may be featured on this FAQ page.


Latest TVA/Floating Cabin Updates:

2023 Update:
Grey Water & Electrical Standards/Requirements Update – Deadline for Compliance is 10/2024!!

Grey Water Update:

As of January 3, 2023 the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has determined that all Floating Cabins located within the State of Tennessee must Collect and Dispose of all Wastewater (this includes Grey Water as well as Black Water).  No exceptions are permitted.

What does this mean?

              South Holston Lake Floating Cabin Owners (as well as other Floating Cabins on the Tennessee River System where MSD Systems are permitted for Vessels) will no longer be allowed to utilize Purisan or Galley Maid Systems or similar MSD devices for their black water.  But must instead collect ALL Black and Grey Water for disposal.

              Norris Lake and other TN Reservoirs that do not permit Black Water Discharge will now have to start collecting and disposing their Grey Water in the same manner.  Because Grey Water tends to average about 10 times the amount of volume as Black Water, utilizing the same infrastructure is likely not an option.  Norris Lake Pumping is currently at capacity for what they are legally allowed to off-load at our local wastewater treatment facilities.  Though meeting this new requirement will vary from Marina to Marina and Cabin to Cabin.  Examples of how this requirement can be met:

              Minimal Quantity Solution: Some Primitive Floating Cabins will be able to meet this new requirement more easily if their Grey Water Discharge Amounts are minimal.  If you're only utilizing a Sink (and not a Shower) you may be able to collect your Grey Water in a 5-Gallon Bucket and carry it to shore when you leave the lake each weekend and discharge it at your Marina's facilities, etc.  This would meet the requirement.

              Sewer Access Solution(s): Some Marinas are connected to a local municipality's sewer system.  If this is the case within your marina's Harbor you may have the following options:

              Collection Method: If your Marina has a small quantity of Floating Cabins, you may be able to install additional collection tanks for storing your Grey Water and having your Marina pump this out in addition to your black water.

              Connection Method: One solution if your Marina has a larger quantity of Floating Cabins you may be able to add an additional collection tank for your grey water along with a high capacity pump and run a submerged pex line of approx 1-2” diameter to shore where it can be added into the sewer connection.

              For the Marinas that do NOT have sewer access (this category represents the Majority of the Marinas on Norris Lake):

              Septic Connection Method: Depending on the quantity of Floating Cabins located at your Marina's Harbor, you may also have the option of piping your Grey Water to the Marina's Septic Facilities.  However, depending on the marina and the total quantity of Floating Cabins, the Marina's Septic Facility may not be adequately sized for the additional volume constraints.

              It is our opinion that the majority of Floating Cabins (on Norris Lake) will fall into this last category.

Ambassadors – Consult with your Marina to find out what category the Floating Cabins at your Marina will fall into.  Some Marinas may be ready and willing to expand their Septic System's Capabilities to accommodate TDEC's Grey Water/Waste Water Requirement.

              For the Floating Cabins that fall into the Septic Connection Method referenced above AND have a Marina Operator not willing or not able to upgrade their Septic Capabilities we are seeking legislative actions for exemptions to this requirement.  These exemptions will be targeted to allow for these Floating Cabins to follow the same requirements that are required for Recreational Vessels of similar lengths.  These Legislative Actions will require Financial Support. 

              Review the above categories.  If grey water collection and removal/disposal can be accomplished at your Marina reasonably – discuss with your Marina Operator, then work with your Marina Operator and your fellow Floating Cabin owners to accomplish this task.  The above solutions do NOT represent every possible option.  You or your fellow Floating Cabin Owners or Marina Operator may have an idea for another method that can be implemented and utilized.  If you or someone else has an idea for a solution that can be implemented more easily, please let us know!  Keep in mind – ANY METHOD that involves wastewater being treated and returning to the lake WILL NOT MEET THIS REQUIREMENT.

              If you're in the Septic Connection category and the Grey Water Collection/Disposal is NOT able to be accomplished reasonably with your Marina's current facilities then you will want to ask your marina operator and ALL of your fellow Floating Cabin owners to join our Legislative Efforts.  This avenue will come with a price tag and will require the use of Lobbyist.

Donations to TVFHA will be needed!  These donations will fund these legislative efforts.  You can donate directly to TVFHA via PayPal:


Electrical Update:

If you're in the Norris Lake Area, Call Danny Graves to have your Electrical Device Installed:

Danny Graves
Floating Cabin Electrician

Costs will vary depending on the Electrical Requirements of your Floating Cabin.  Over 60Amps will be more expensive.  Under 60Amps will be less expensive. 

If you're NOT on Norris Lake, check with your Marina for a recommendation on an Electrician.  Many Marinas will not want just anyone working on electrical within their marina harbor.  Contact the Marina Owner or Operator for a recommendation.  If they have no recommendation, try contacting: 

Larry Craddock
State of Tennessee Electrical Inspector Lead, Electrical, Residential and Marina

To schedule your Electrical Inspection with the State, visit 
OR Call:
Katie Hudson


2021 Update:
TVA has published the Final Phase II Floating Cabin Regulations, which are effective on October 12, 2021.  You can find the changes here or view all of TVA’s Section 26a regulations here

More Information at:
Email Questions to:
or Call: 1-800-882-5263

If you or someone you know needs help with getting their Floating Cabin Registered, for any reason, please let us know. We may be able to assist. Call or email Travis 865-293-8258

Deadline to Register is January 10 2022. It is free to register.

Register your floating cabin now!

Owners of floating cabins are required to register the floating cabin with TVA. Registration forms may be emailed to or mailed to the address on the registration form. There is no fee to register.

In accordance with TVA’s regulations, the following information is required to process a floating cabin registration:

  • Clear and current photographs of the structure;
  • A drawing or drawings showing in reasonable detail the size and shape of the floating cabin (length, width, and height) and attached structures, such as decks or slips (length, width, and height); and
  • A completed and signed TVA registration form. The completed TVA registration form shall include the mailing and contact information of the owner(s); the TVA permit or TVA-issued numbers (when applicable); the mooring location of the floating cabin; how the floating cabin is moored; how electrical service is provided; how wastewater and sewage is managed; and an owner’s signature.

Once the registration process is completed, floating cabin owners will receive an orange tag to place on their cabin. Registration is a required first step for floating cabins; it is not an approval of the floating cabin nor is it a guarantee that the floating cabin can be approved by TVA. All floating cabins will be required to maintain compliance with the regulations and obtain a Section 26a permit in the future.

Who should complete the registration form

  • Anyone who owns a floating cabin, including those that were previously permitted by TVA.
  • Buyers of a floating cabin, even if the previous owner submitted a registration form.
  • Those who wish to move their floating cabin to another marina.

TVA published proposed rule amendments that would establish health, safety and environmental standards for floating cabins, including standards for electrical safety, flotation, mooring and wastewater discharge. They also address TVA’s ongoing management and administration of the floating cabins program. The public comment period closed on March 9, 2020. TVA is evaluating the public comments received and making updates to the rules. The final rules are expected to be published in Spring 2021.


2020 Update:
TVA invites the public to review and comment on Phase II of its proposed rules governing floating cabins

The proposed rule amendments would establish health, safety and environmental standards for floating cabins, including standards for electrical safety, flotation, mooring and wastewater discharge. They also address TVA’s ongoing management and administration of the floating cabins program.

Read the Proposed Phase II Rule Amendments here.

Comments must be received on or before March 9, 2020.

Comments may be submitted by email to or

Written comments can be sent to:

Dave Harrell
Program Manager, TVA
400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11A
Knoxville, TN 37902

Owners of floating cabins are required to register the floating cabin with TVA. Registration forms may be emailed to or mailed to the address on the registration form.


2019 Floating House Update:
New floating cabins and expansions of existing floating cabins are prohibited on TVA’s reservoirs. Floating cabins that existed prior to December 16, 2016, may remain if they meet health, safety, and environmental standards developed by TVA, apply and receive a permit, and pay required fees. TVA anticipates issuing the proposed Phase II Rule Amendments with health, safety, and environmental standards for public review in the summer of 2019.

Phase I Rules in effect as of October 1, 2018 - click here for more info.

Phase II Rules to be made available for public comment on December 10 2019 - Proposed Phase II Rule Amendments here.

Information at:
Email Questions to:
or Call: 1-800-882-5263


2018 Floating House Update:
New floating cabins are (still) prohibited on TVA’s reservoirs. Floating cabins that existed prior to December 16, 2016 may remain if they meet new standards. TVA is working with marinas and floating cabin owners to develop reasonable technical standards that will apply from a health, safety and environmental standpoint. Proposed Phase I rule amendments for floating cabins have been published for public comment. Written comments will be accepted until March 19, 2018. Learn more about floating cabins via the TVA website here.

Floating cabins that were on the Tennessee River System on or before December 16, 2016, (with or without TVA approval in the form of a TVA Section 26 permit) are deemed an existing floating cabin. Existing floating cabins may remain provided they are able to meet TVA’s future regulatory standards, obtain and remain in compliance with their Section 26a permit, and pay any required fees.

Existing floating cabins may not be rebuilt, expanded in size, or structurally modified without the advance written approval of TVA. Any modifications approved by TVA must be necessary to bring the floating cabin into compliance with TVA’s regulations.

Initial Phase I Rule Amendments to Section 26a Regulations

TVA has published proposed rule amendments in the Federal Register for floating cabins and public comments are being accepted on the proposed rules until March 19, 2018. The proposed amendments re-define nonnavigable houseboats and floating cabins using one term—“floating cabins”—and prohibit new floating cabins on the Tennessee River System after December 16, 2016. The proposed amendments also include limited mooring standards, clarifications regarding permissible rebuilding and modification of existing floating cabins and a requirement for all floating cabins to be registered.  TVA will update this website with instructions about registering your floating cabin if this requirement is incorporated in the final rule amendments to be published. 

Phase II Rule Amendments to Section 26a Regulations

More detailed health, safety and environmental standards for floating cabins will be addressed in a later Phase II rulemaking once TVA has discussed proposed standards with stakeholders. Until final rules are published and except as amended by the WIIN Act, TVA’s current rules remain in effect.

What you should do now until the final rules are effective:

  • Do not build any new floating cabins. TVA is not permitting new floating cabins that did not exist before December 16, 2016.
  • Ensure your structure is moored within an approved marina harbor limit or at a shoreline location already approved by TVA in an existing permit.
  • If you own a nonnavigable houseboat, review your permit to determine if you are in compliance.
  • If selling a nonnavigable houseboat, make the buyer aware of upcoming changes.
  • If buying a nonnavigable houseboat, ensure it is in strict compliance with the owner’s TVA permit and notify TVA within 30 days of the transaction that you are the new owner. Review the permit with TVA before purchasing. 
  • If selling an unpermitted floating cabin, communicate to buyer that the structure will need a permit from TVA and will be required to meet standards and may be subject to fees.
  • If buying an unpermitted floating cabin, read the information on this website and understand you will be required to meet standards, you must obtain a permit from TVA, and you may be subject to fees.
  • Visit site frequently for updates and new information.
  • Comment on the proposed rules, standards and fees when they are published.

For additional information, please contact:

Dave Harrell
(865) 632-1327

2017 Floating House Update:
Well, it's kind of a long story if you haven't been following along, but we'll attempt to summarize... In response to the TVA Board passing regulations that would require the removal of all Non-Navigable/Floating Homes from all TVA Waterways in 30 years, the Tennessee Valley Floating Home Association (TVFHA) was created by Floating Home Owners and Marina Owners, which together organized, raised funds, raised awareness, educated the public, hired an advocate, and more, and was able to get legislation added to an important federal bill (through the help of several key Senators from North Carolina) which later passed both the US Senate and the Congress in what started out as the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA) but eventually became the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) and was signed into law by President Obama on December 16th, 2016. In which, TVA would be prohibited from requiring the removal of any Non-Navigable/Floating Home that meets TBD reasonable health, safety, and environmental standards and pays a TBD reasonable fee to the TVA.

A recent news article link is here:

You can read the bill here:

Section 5003 of the WIIN Act can be viewed as a pdf here

We still encourage everyone to stay involved as the TVFHA will be working with the TVA in the coming months to draft reasonable regulations and fees. Also we encourage stakeholders (Floating Home Owners, Users, Renters, etc) to donate to the TVFHA to help repay financial commitments to Advocates that was key to accomplishing all of the above, you can stay involved by joining efforts here: or here:


It is important to know that TVA is categorizing all Floating Homes and Non-Navigable Vessels the same if it's TN numbered or not numbered at all. The 4-B (pre-1978 constructed homes) that are still in compliance with their permit will be exempt from the new annual fees, but not the sunset provision. TN Numbered homes will need to meet all of TVA's criteria listed below in order to not be considered a Floating Home or Non-Navigable Vessel and may still face criticism from TVA, along with TVA's definition of a Floating House:

"Floating houses are a modern version of the pre-1978 nonnavigable houseboats. Floating houses are considered to be structures designed and used primarily for human habitation, rather than for the primary purpose of recreational boating or water transportation. A boat no longer capable of navigation or water transportation, which is used for habitation, may be considered a floating house by TVA. “Nonnavigable houseboat” is the term found in TVA’s regulations that refers to early-era floating houses that existed on TVA reservoirs when TVA amended its regulations in 1971 and 1978.
A "nonnavigable houseboat" under TVA current regulations means any houseboat not in compliance with the following criteria:
 Built on a boat hull or on two or more pontoons
 Equipped with a motor and rudder controls located at a point on the houseboat with forward visibility over a 180-degree range
 Compliant with all applicable state and federal requirements relating to vessels  Registered as a vessel in the state of principal use
 State registration numbers clearly displayed on the vessel
Despite the prohibition on mooring of new FHs on its reservoirs, new FHs have been moored on TVA reservoirs. Some FH developers and owners have asserted that their houses have been designed to meet the criteria for navigability in TVA’s regulations. Whether or not this is true, these FHs are designed and used primarily for human habitation at a fixed location rather than for regularly traversing water. These FHs are not in any real sense watercraft."

The link below is to the TVA Website that discusses the ongoing environmental review/pending policy change:

The link below is to a Frequently Asked Questions page regarding TVA's Environmental Review of Floating Homes: is a corporate member in good standing with The Yacht Brokers Association of America (YBAA).

Yacht Brokers Association of America

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