Netflix’s Latest Show, The Houseboat, Is Full of Sage Renovation Advice

The three best tips from the DIY docuseries.
a houseboat
Photography by Jonas Neugebauer

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A new home renovation show on Netflix has got our eyes glued to the screen, and not just because we need the German subtitles turned on. The Houseboat, a four-part docuseries now available to stream, follows Olli Schulz and Fynn Kliemann, musicians and DIYers, on their journey to renovate the late German country music star Gunter Gabriel’s houseboat in Hamburg. Through each episode, the project seems to fall deeper into a money pit, but it also acts as a resource for sage wisdom you could apply to any reno job on land. The series is a must-watch for fans of the format, but especially for those looking for tips and tricks. Read on for the best advice we took away from The Houseboat.

Rally a Crew 

a houseboat being painted
Photography by Brian Jakubowski

There’s power in numbers, especially when it comes to gutting the basin of a dilapidated ship. Being able to pull together five or six friends to help with a project is the difference between getting it done in a day or in a week. Sure, some will be a bit lazier than others—looking at you, Olli—but if you have enough people, you can cover for one another. The most important thing to do after getting free labor from friends? Thank them. For Olli and Fynn, beer and currywurst seem to work nicely.

Cosmetic Updates Come Last

Photography by Brian Jakubowski

It’s tempting to want to dive right into tasks that will make everything seem pretty, like adding a fresh coat of color to the walls—probably because there’s little satisfaction in a well-sanded, sturdier framework or rewired electrical system. But that lack of patience can cost you. After spending 5,000 euros to paint the hull of the boat bubblegum pink, it was peeled back off when the bottom needed to be stripped down to the steel to prevent further erosion. Don’t expect the preliminary work you put into a project to have an immediate payoff when you step back to look at it, but you will be happy in the end when you never need to redo something.

Clean as You Work

a boat
Photography by Brian Jakubowski

You would be shocked at how many dumpsters get filled in even a small renovation project. Add in The Houseboat’s extra needs like sandblasting and angle-grinding metal walls, and you’re going to make a mess. Staying tidy is a good rule in general, but doing so during a remodel lets workers continue on with their tasks efficiently and therefore keeps the work from piling up. Win-win. 

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