Rehau used for luxury houseboat installation

REHAU windows and doors have been installed in a luxury houseboat in Belfast, providing a clean and bright finish to the Scandinavian inspired boat, while keeping it cosy and warm inside. 

Now listed on Air B&B as one of the top featured properties in Northern Ireland, the boat – affectionately known as Nolly – was once destined for the scrapyard. She was rescued by newly retired couple Gillian and David Campbell, who bought the barge as a renovation project with the intention of transforming her into a houseboat to be moored in the marina of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. As well as being a home for the Campbell’s, it can also be rented out as two apartments.

Gillian Campbell said:

“We travelled a lot over the years with David’s job, and during our time in Denmark, we just fell in love with the houseboats we saw in Copenhagen. They were so cosy! So, when David retired, we decided to take on a project to build our own houseboat. We needed a big and wide barge which would provide the base for a spacious and light living space, so when we found Nolly, we knew she was the one.

“Nolly was not without her challenges though, and there was a lot of renovation work to be done. We essentially had to strip her back to the steel and rebuild her from scratch.”

While some of the boat’s original portholes could be salvaged for reuse on internal doors and walls, the exterior windows all needed replacing with new ones. When consulting with the project team about options, Gillian was very particular about the aesthetics of the new windows and also their ability to retain heat and reduce condensation.

Gillian continued:

“It was really important to us that the boat was warm and cosy, so the choice of windows was an integral part of retaining the boat’s heat and also reducing condensation, which can be problematic on houseboats. We were advised against using timber frames that can rot, so PVC was the best alternative. Initially, I was a bit unsure about how they would look but I am delighted with them – they are just so clean and bright and let in so much light, particularly in the upstairs living area.”

Gillian was advised on the window and door specification by REHAU’s trade counter partner in Belfast, Windowmate Thomas McAllister, Sales Manager for Windowmate in Northern Ireland explored a number of options for the houseboat and ultimately recommended the REHAU TOTAL70 range. The casement and fixed windows could be easily installed in the steel frame of the boat and offered a high U-value for excellent thermal efficiency.

Thomas said:

“The project was unlike anything we had done before and came with some very unique challenges. Just getting products onto the boat and fitted safely was a different experience for us, but we worked on each problem as they came up to ensure the best installation possible. This included using an odd-leg profile to help seal the windows better onto the boat.”

Windowmate supplied 12 standard casement windows, two fixed light screens and two standard residential doors for the houseboat. However, the French doors to the outdoor living areas presented some issues to the team.

Thomas continued:

“Because the dimensions of the boat are not like a normal brick-built house, not all the door sizes are standard, and this posed one or two challenges! When it came to fitting the doors which led out onto the boat’s outdoor seating area, we couldn’t use a standard REHAU door product so instead we manufactured a large casement window and used this as a French door. We used heavy duty hinges to carry the weight of the glass door and used the REHAU TOTAL profile to match the rest of the windows. Problem solved!”

Gillian added:

“When you live on the water, you are always against the elements, but the PVC has worked really well on our houseboat. The windows are so easy to look after, and they make the barge look fresh, clean and new all the time. We have stunning views of the Titanic Museum and the harbour from Nolly, and the windows provide an important connection to it for us and our Air B&B guests.”

Declan Coulter, Divisional Sales Manager from REHAU said:

“It’s not every day that we are approached to provide windows for an unusual project like this one, but I am pleased to see how the flexibility in the REHAU range has allowed Thomas and the team at Windowmate to deliver a specification which works with the unique requirements of the houseboat. As well as providing windows and doors which will withstand the test of the seawater, they also deliver on the warm, cosy and condensation-free qualities Gillian was looking for. The houseboat looks stunning and we are proud to have been part of its transformation.”