Floating neighborhoods stay on Norris Lake with new regulations

Floating houses must register with TVA under new guidelines.
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Some East Tennesseans take lake living to the extreme by living on the lake, literally. Floating neighborhoods are scattered across Norris Lake. However, TVA put that lifestyle into jeopardy a few years ago. Owners of the floating homes fought back and compromised with new regulations.

Mary Eipert owns Floating Holiday, a rental company with three different floating homes on Norris Lake. Eipert purchased her first floating home in 2011 with her husband and just last year they purchased their third.

“We absolutely love them. I mean this is the reason why,” she said pointing to their view. “It’s absolutely gorgeous. This is our view, which in my opinion, is a million dollar view.”

Her floating homes sit in a neighborhood of about eighty different floating houses. According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which regulates the lake, there’s about 2,250 floating houses across the entire Tennessee River.

“Where you’d walk to your neighbor’s house, we swim to our neighbor’s house,” Eipert said. However, the neighborhood was jeopardized by TVA a few years ago. The authority pushed to have all floating houses removed by May 5, 2046, a ruling that upset many homeowners on the lake. After several community meetings, neighbors came to a compromise with TVA.

“The results were good. We don’t have to leave,” Eipert said. “We have to be regulated. That’s much better.”

Owners now have to register with the TVA before 2021 so that officials can keep track of each home with inspections. By January 1, 2024, they will also have to obtain a permit and comply with TVA’s standards. TVA officials said if owners don’t comply by 2024, they will have to remove their floating house.

“Proposed amendments establish health, safety, and environmental standards,” TVA said in its statement online. Officials will be checking on new regulations for electrical and waste components. TVA also isn’t allowing any new floating houses to be built.

Eipert said she’s happy with the compromise, especially considering this is her busiest rental season yet.

“Being on a floating house is a great way to self quarantine because no one comes to your house unless you invite them.”

The marinas are also busier, renting out more jet skis and boats than in the past.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.