Nat Rea Photography | Courtesy Feeney Inc.
Nat Rea Photography | Courtesy Feeney Inc.

“I walk in the door with a huge grin on my face. I keep waiting for the adults to show up and tell me to leave.”

You can’t blame the owner of 182 Niantic River Rd. in Waterford, Conn., for his gleeful words.

After all, who gets to live in a vintage steamship?

The award-winning home delights sightseers looking up at its permanent mooring on a bluff overlooking the Niantic River. The 4,400-square-foot, two-story house captivates with its authentic nautical detail, right down to its charming faux-smokestack.

Meet the aptly named Boat House, a three-bedroom passion project completed last year by Jonathan Laschever, owner of Laschever Building Co., the project’s general contractor.

Construction Challenge

Laschever is a builder’s builder, specializing in custom residential construction and renovation. “I got involved with this project in 2013. The owner had been toying with building on the lot for several years,” Laschever says. So much so, the owner commissioned exterior design renderings but without structural detail, material specification, or any interior design.

It was up to the owner and Laschever to create Boat House.

For example, the unorthodox seafaring design complicated engineering. “I worked with a structural engineer to design the home to withstand a wind load of 120 miles per hour,” explains Laschever. “That exceeds local code.”

Which Railing System?

The concept drawings depicted welded steel railings, which Laschever quickly reconsidered, given the home’s proximity to salt water. “The property is within a mile of Long Island Sound. We feared steel railings would start rusting about day one,” Laschever says.

The custom builder briefly considered glass panels as an in-fill railing alternative. Glass was quickly ruled-out over pitting concerns and “… it would be impossible to keep glass clean in the briny air” according to Laschever.

To meet their needs for a weather-durable, low-maintenance railing system, they decided to go with stainless steel cable rail in-fill on a powder-coated aluminum railing frame.

“I had never used a cable in-fill railing system before. I felt like a cable rail would offer a lot of flexibility with color and mounting options. When I discovered we could also embed LED lighting too, it was like getting a Christmas present in July,” Laschever recalls.

Expert Assistance

The railing system was a major exterior architectural detail. To get it just right, Laschever turned to the railing system manufacturer.

“We had to figure out where the LED lighting drivers had to be and other technical details. Feeney, the railing system manufacturer, was really helpful. Everything arrived at the jobsite packaged and labeled. It’s what you expect but don’t always get. It was refreshing to not have to fight that battle,” Laschever says.

Nat Rea Photography | Courtesy Feeney Inc.
Nat Rea Photography | Courtesy Feeney Inc.

Day and Night Splendor

And the installed cable railings? They’re a showstopper. “The house has one persona in daytime and another at night. In daytime, the stainless steel cables shimmer and sparkle at a distance. At night, the illuminated railings are stunning. It looks just like a ship at sea,” the builder says.

The home also reveals a sly humor: The foredeck anchor dangles amusingly from a nearby tree. The owner need not worry. Adults love the Boat House.

The Boat House is the winner of several awards, including First Place in the 2017 Manufacturer Project category from the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA). View more Boat House pictures here.