Name: Rob and Matthew

Area: (Rob:) Banbury, or where ever my 58ft deluxe studio flat takes me (Matt:) Oxford city centre.

Occupation: (Rob:) Business development for an online parcel delivery service (Matt:) Copywriter, but now moving to Uganda.

Describe your amazing space…

A floating hallway, using a blend of up-cycled furniture and mod cons. It’s a man cave for a reclusive winter and a social space in summer for friends and family.

What inspired you to build it?

(Rob:) I’ve been holiday on narrowboats with friends for the last 10 years. My friends’ family sold their boat so I thought I would keep this option open to the whole crew. I refuse to rent and throw away thousands of pounds a year to pay off someone else's mortgage. I'm a terrible saver and the banks were willing to lend me the money, so I thought 'why not'?

What kind of planning permissions did you need?

None. They allowed total novices like us every tool we could get our hands on. We were advised by the Boatshop UK. We used experts where required and submerged ourselves in the barge community, who are so friendly and on hand to advise.

How long did the whole project take?

Five months from the start - with another month to completion.

What was your budget – did you go over it?

£30,000 was the budget and we have spent £33,000, which may rise to £35,000. Over-spend was on skilled labour to get it up and running in time for summer, and specialised marine equipment. Plus an expensive loo, log burner and paint job.


  • (Rob:) Seeing my designed paint job on the shell for the first time.
  • When it actually floated - that was a relief, as I convinced Matty to put his savings into a fire-damaged shell that I had not seen float.
  • Reveal day, and having beer on tap to relax and enjoy the space.
  • Looking forward to the future with a rent-free existence without electric bills and council tax.
  • Lows... (Rob:) The only low is looking at my online bank balance now it is all over, and having general discussions on money - it’s easy to see how bankers turn milk sour.Would you have changed anything you did? We both agree that it would be nice to do our own boats so that we would not have to compromise. But no, not at present.Things you wished you had known before you started? Skills can be learned, but knowing exactly what you want without any prior knowledge of internal boat systems was tough - things like heating, plumbing, hot water, cooking, inverting a 240v current from batteries, and gas. How we managed this I have no idea, but hard work and the nerve to ask others hundreds of questions helps.Top tips for other people embarking on a similar journey?
  • Budgets are overrated
  • Paint jobs can be slapped on quickly but the key is in the prep
  • Metallic paints are the way forward!
  • Communication with all parties is key
  • Boats are never finished!
  • Save beautification until last!