Carryduff houseboat firm rules the waves at launch
Northern Ireland's first floating home company has set sail on a good course after landing its first orders during its launch this week.
Bluefield Houseboats' initial three-bedroom house is destined for Chichester, England, and has the potential to lead to 10 more homes over the next two years.
Founded by the man who designed the Titanic building, Bluefield Houseboats uses innovative technology to construct floating homes, offices and commercial buildings.
The Carryduff-based company is the first in the UK and Ireland to handle everything from design and manufacture through to the installation of the structure.
Seven years in the pipeline, the two-bedroom prototype was unveiled in a private lake outside Carryduff yesterday.
Typically, the water-based buildings, which cost upwards of £195,000, take 10 weeks to build.
While planning permission is still required for the permanently floating structures, design director Jonny Baird insisted that he could see floating shops, coffee shops and restaurants becoming a fixture across several UK cities.
"If you Google 'houseboat' you'll see images ranging from long barges to the multimillion-pound Grand Designs structures," he added. "What we want is something in between.
"The houses will offer everything you can get in a house on the land. Houseboats can be associated with compromises, but we want to change that."
Bluefield Houseboats chairman Tony Reid said: "We've been developing this concept for years, and we are very proud of what we have created and excited about its possibilities."
Around 85 people attended yesterday's launch, at which the company secured a further three sales.
Invest NI offered more than £101,000 towards research and design, marketing activities, technical advice and an employment grant for five jobs.