A Houseboat in Dallas? You Betcha, Wedding Planks and Less than 1500 Square Feet in the Urban Reserve

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Houseboat Shipley ArchitectsLast week I saw that Dan Shipley’s brilliant design team over at Shipley Architects got posted on ArchDailey, one of my fave sites. This home is located over in the Urban Reserve, Diane Cheatham’s ahead-of- it’s-time green enclave of zero-lot line modern residences near both a light-rail station and the Northaven Trail. The area’s location was once a landfill and you enter the area via a nice neighborhood of middle class homes off Forest Lane, east of central. There is proximity to DART and the zero-lot-line community encourages space-efficient house designs. Shipley’s home for Rick & Julie Fontenot is a mere 1490 square feet, the size of a Preston Hollow master closet! While this home is not for sale, plenty over there is and bears a look/see.

Dan Shipley says that one of their biggest challenges building in Urban Reserve was the site’s poor soil quality:

“The property was once a landfill, and its weak, expansive soil has a low bearing capacity.”

Solution: float the house above the earth on steel beams supported by concrete piers. This siting method also upped the home’s green quotient, due to its minimal disturbance of the land. And there’s a little romance in the picture, too: the design team incorporated salvaged wood—2-inch-by-12-inch planks from the dance floor at the clients’ wedding—into the main floor frame. But love can be practical: like many of the firm’s recent projects, a geothermal system heats and cools the house:

“We’ve been doing geothermal a lot lately,” Shipley says. “People like the idea of it. It uses natural means for the heat exchange, and it gets rid of awkward, clumsy condensing units.” Pressure-treated wood that typically would be used for porch flooring makes an unconventional siding material. “It just goes up quickly,” he notes. And a ramp of metal grating creates a more substantial entry passage into the 20-foot-wide home. “In small houses, the question is always, How do you have a sense of arrival and movement?” he says. “Once you do go in the front door, you’re right there at the kitchen island. The ramp was a way of leveraging or extending the sense of arrival.” The gang-plank-like ramp, along with the home’s compact, floating nature, inspired the nickname “Like a Houseboat.”

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).